African teams need mental strength for Cup, says Barnes

Former Liverpool and England striker John Barnes fears African teams will fall short again at the World Cup unless they adopt the kind of mental toughness displayed by the likes of Brazil and Germany.

Jamaican-born Barnes is in Angola to promote England’s 2018 World Cup bid, but he is keeping a close eye on action at the Africa Cup of Nations.

World Cup qualifiers and Nations Cup favourites Ivory Coast were knocked out in the quarterfinals by Algeria while Egypt sent fellow South-Africa bound Cameroon packing.

That leaves three World Cup qualifiers still in the hunt for this continental championship, with Ghana facing Nigeria and Algeria up against non-qualified Egypt in Thursday’s semifinals.

Barnes told AFP in Luanda on Wednesday: “African sides are a match for any team in terms of their physical and technical ability.

“Didier Drogba terrorises defenders in the English Premier League with his physical presence but not when he’s playing against fellow Africans in the Africa Cup of Nations.

“To win the World Cup African countries have to embrace a new mental aspect of their game.

“The example I like to use is the Champions League final when Liverpool were three goals down but fought back to beat AC Milan. That was nothing to do with physicality but to do with their mental strength.”

Turning to England’s chances under Fabio Capello he added: “The bookies aren’t stupid. They have England as among the favourites with Brazil and Spain.” — AFP

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