Wenger desires stronger African clubs

Wenger desires stronger African clubs
Wenger desires stronger African clubs

Africa-Press – Gambia. Fifa’s Chief of Global Football Development Arsène Wenger believes that Africa must develop stronger clubs in order to foster football on the continent.

The former Arsenal FC manager highlighted the matter after witnessing arguably the best edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Ivory Coast.

Wenger, 74, was part of the crowd which witnessed tournament hosts Ivory Coast defeat Nigeria 2-1 in the Afcon final inside the Stade Alassane Ouattara d’Ebimpé in the capital Abidjan a week ago.

No much space

“There have been remarkable improvements since the last tournament,” he said in an interview this week. A total 52 matches were played by 24 teams, yielding 119 goals for the highest tally ever at an Afcon edition.

“Overall, it was a tournament of the small margins between the teams,” said Wenger. “The phenomenon that we have seen there is that there was little space to play. The compactness of the team was what we had already seen in Doha at the 2022 Fifa World Cup. And, it looks to be a trend in the world, that teams don’t give space away,” he explained the teams’ tactical set-ups.

The quality of football displayed at Afcon is something Wenger wants to be consistent but more importantly, displayed at the Fifa World Cup in 2026. And key to harnessing this progress is improving club structures in Africa.

Stronger African clubs

“These (African) countries lose their players because they cannot afford to keep them. And, we need to build stronger clubs,” he stressed. “And, to make stronger clubs, to have stronger competitions is vital, because that was the success of Europe – they have strong clubs and good education and we want that: to develop that as well in Africa – everywhere.”

Majority of the players at Afcon hailed from French and English top-tier leagues with Africa’s most present league being South Africa’s with 29 players, according to Caf’s technical study group.

To counter that going forward, Wenger and his team at Fifa are working to develop infrastructure and improve football education of young players in Africa. “Over the next six months and one year, it’s to open more academies.

“We are now close to opening a new one in Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Ghana and Zambia and we want to develop five new academies there and, at the end of 2026, we’ll have 75 academies all over the world. That means football education has moved forward and that’s what we’re focusing on at the moment,” added the man who won three Premier League titles with Arsenal.

Wenger’s team is running a talent development system globally which recently changed the youth system to organise a Fifa U17 World Cup every year for quick talent development.

Nigeria 1-2 Ivory Coast

South Africa 0-0 (6-5 pens) DR Congo


Nigeria 1-1 (4-2 pens) South Africa
Ivory Coast 1-0 DR Congo


Nigeria 1-0 Angola
Guinea 1-3 DR Congo
Mali 1-2 Ivory Coast
Cape Verde 0-0 (1-2 pens) South Africa


Man of the Competition: William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria)
Golden Boot: Emilio Nsue (Equatorial Guinea)
Best Goalkeeper: Ronwen Williams (South Africa)
Best Young Player: Simon Adingra (Ivory Coast)
Fair Play Award: South Africa


Matches played: 52
Goals scored: 119 (2.29 per match)
Attendance: 1,109,593 (21,338 per match)
Squad Contributions: French Ligue 1 (80 players), Premier League (50), Bundesliga & Serie A (20 each)
African Leagues Contributions: South Africa (29), Tanzania (19), Egypt (19), Morocco (4), Tunisia (4)

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