The importance of focussing on the strength of the collective was one of the main themes to come out the Post 2014 FIFA World Cup™ conference that concluded in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.
National coaches and technical directors from AFC and OFC member associations took time to reflect on Brazil 2014 where, from an Asian perspective, the results did not go the way of the four representative teams – Australia, Iran, Japan and Korea Republic – who all went home without a win.
“Our performances were OK but there is also an understanding that we weren’t good enough,” said Ange Postecoglou, coach of Australia, who were drawn in one of the toughest groups with Chile, the Netherlands and Spain.
“To bridge the gap with Europe and South America we have to come together and work collectively as a region. We need to elevate the status of our competitions like the Champions League and have more money coming into the game so that our best young players won’t necessarily feel the need to go overseas.”
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz echoed those sentiments while also emphasising the need to have a unique outlook. “If we take the Champions League as an example, we can’t simply copy the UEFA model,” said Queiroz. “In Asia we have major distances to cover geographically. We have to adapt our competitions, our programmes and our approaches to overcome the specific challenges.”
Iran arguably showed the most promise in Brazil and were moments away from getting a result against eventual runners-up Argentina but for an injury-time winner from Lionel Messi. “Despite the fact that we didn’t advance, the team brought pride, joy and honour to Iran and I think we also won a lot of respect from people around the world,” added Queiroz, who was assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United before going on to manage Real Madrid and his native Portugal.
To bridge the gap with Europe and South America we have to come together and work collectively as a region.
Representatives from the Japan and Korea Republic FAs were philosophical about their results. “It is difficult to explain the reasons,” said JFA technical director Masahiro Shimoda. “We faced the issue of having two or three key players not playing for their clubs in Europe in the build-up to the event.”
Meanwhile Young Soo Lee, chairman of the KFA technical committee, cited a lack of experience amongst the Taeguk Warriors as one of the contributing factors. “The average age was much lower than the average age in 2010 and plus we had two legendary players Park Ji-Sung and Lee Young-Pyo retire just before the World Cup,” said Lee. “Our main goal now going forward is to improve the creativity of the players and their scoring abilities.”
OFC were not represented in Brazil after the All Whites came up short against a strong Mexican side in the intercontinental play-offs. But there is an opportunity to rebuild and emulate their South Africa 2010 form in the future, particularly considering New Zealand will host the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2015.
“This competition is going to have a significant impact for New Zealand and also for Oceania since Fiji have qualified,” said New Zealand Football Technical Director Rob Sherman. “There’s a new generation of players coming through and this will be an opportunity for them to get experience at a major event.”
The three-day conference provided a platform to analyse the tactical evolution of the game while also looking at medical matters and developments related to refereeing such as goal-line technology, vanishing spray and the new structure of The IFAB. One of the highlights was the presentation by the German Football Association (DFB) delegation detailing their long road to success. Bernd Stöber, Head of Coach Education, and Markus Weidner, Head of Education and International Relations, shared insights into how the DFB patiently built-up programmes over the past 15 years to focus on youth development and player generation while working in close cooperation with the clubs and leagues.
Kuala Lumpur marked the end of the cycle of Post 2014 FIFA World Cup™ conferences jointly organised by FIFA and its confederations after Panama City (CONCACAF/CONMEBOL members, 11-12 September), Saint Petersburg (UEFA members, 16-17 September) and Cairo (CAF members, 30 September – 1 October).