Success of African teams shows wisdom of development strategy

DEREK VAN DIEST

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

They came into the tournament as unknowns.

Three of the four African teams were making their debuts at FIFA Under-20 World Cup.

But after qualifying for the second round of the tournament, Gambia, Congo and Zambia are making a name for themselves.

"I think this is good for African football," said Gambia's head coach Peter Bonu Johnson.

"Some years back nearly all the African federations after a series of meetings with CAF - our organizing body - decided that we all have to start from the bottom up.

"When you have a good foundation, obviously the building will stand. All the African countries took the from the bottom up approach and now it's paying dividends."

This is the first time in the history of Under-20 World Cup all the African teams have qualified for the second round. Nigeria also advanced to the round of 16.

African countries - most notably Nigeria and Ghana - have traditionally done well at this tournament.

While they have yet to win the tournament, both Nigeria and Ghana have played in a pair of finals.

"That has given us confidence," Johnson said.

"That's why the boys are going to give it all they have to go to the next round."

Unwanted guests

As if the Chileans didn't have enough issues to deal with flying from one side of the country to another during the tournament.

On Friday the team got uninvited visitors at their hotel in Toronto when a group of women - presumed to be prostitutes - began knocking on the players' doors at around 1:30 a.m.

One of the women actually punched star striker Alexis Sanchez when he opened the door.

"There was nobody there to watch the people that come in," said Chilean head coach Jose Sulantay.

"Nobody knows what these women were up to, but they got up to the floor without any problems which is what concerned me the most."

The women were escorted out of the hotel by the training staff.

Chile faces Portugal tomorrow in a second-round game (5:45) at Commonwealth Stadium.


Videos

Photos