Nations which dominate world football have their own style of play that they continue to perfect in line with the changing times.
In one of my columns last month, I emphasised the importance of sound and clear development-structures if our football is to grow. However, I should have also said it is at grassroots level where a nation’s unique style is developed hence the need to have these structures.
Brazil have their own style of ‘samba’ football which has helped them be the only nation to qualify for every World Cup tournament since its inception in 1930, winning the coveted trophy a record five times—in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, and 2002.
The Brazilians play a fast-paced passing game which is a joy to watch like their ‘samba’ belly-dance and the players are also very creative, adding to the excitement of this celebrated team whose name has become synonymous with football.
England also have their own playing style which is direct, basic football, and although they don’t have much silverware to show for it, at-least they have an identity football-wise.
The same goes for reigning world champions Germany, who are renowned for their aggressive football and speedy attacks from the wings. The reason why the Germans like to attack from the flanks is because they have tall, strong attackers who have also perfected the art of heading the ball.
Italy, world champions in 2006, are known for their defensive play while they also rely on counter-attacks to surprise their opponents and get the much-needed goals.
Spain have since become masters of the passing game famously known as tiki-taka –a style the national side copied from one of their teams, Barcelona. The Spaniards won the European championship on two consecutive occasions—in 2008 and 2012—and in 2010, clinched the World Cup because of their tiki-taka which is almost the same as Brazil’s mesmerising passing.
I was watching South Africa’s under-23 side last Saturday as they hosted Zimbabwe in the return fixture of the 2015 African under-23 Championship.
The South Africans were playing good football that day, with the players showboating so much that Zimbabwe could only watch, leading to a 4-1 win for the hosts.
Then I remembered how their national team used to be such an exciting force in the 90s through the same individual flair, resulting in their Africa Cup of Nations triumph on home soil in 1996. This is the South Africa fans had come to know—flair and never afraid to show-off their skills.
Then this question popped-up in my mind: does Lesotho have their own style of play?
We have been playing international football for a very long time now with nothing to show for it, but if one was to ask: what separates us from other national teams? What is our identity as far as football is concerned?
If we could have our own culture of play and instill it among players from a very early age, I think we could make the job of the national team coach much easier because it would not take him so much time to make players understand each other.
We must have our own culture of playing the game if we are to realise success just like other nations do.