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Muhsin Ertugral says World Cup has shown how Asian football has got it right

Muhsin Ertugral says World Cup has shown how Asian football has got it right

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Johannesburg – Former Kaizer Chiefs coach Muhsin Ertugral says he is not surprised by the impressive showing dished out by members of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) at the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar.

Japan, South Korea and Australia reached the knock-out stage following wins over some of the world’s top sides. And while they were group stage casualties, both Saudi Arabia and Iran also stood out with notable victories as well as good performances in the matches they lost.

Ertugral, a member of the Fifa Technical Study Group (TSG), said the tournament has been a revelation.

“How the Asian teams have closed the huge gap that used to exist between them and the top teams from Europe and South America has been an eye opener.

“Looking deeper you could see that the two big Asian teams (South Korea and Japan) started to develop their own league intensity and quality before they co-hosted the tournament back in 2002. We must remember that South Korea reached the semi-finals at that tournament,” said Ertugral.

“Since that time, you could see an ongoing process to keep the pace with the best in the world. Over the years, Asia has consistently produced good players for the best leagues and teams in Europe.”

Ertugral acknowledges that having more teams (six in this campaign) at the tournament would be a boost for the confederation’s representatives to play at a higher level.

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“More representation at the World Cup will have definitely got the competition in Asia to grow even more.”

The man who also coached Ajax Cape Town, Santos, Golden Arrows and Orlando Pirates, has observed the positive changes that hosting the 2002 edition has had on Asian football.

“After the 2002 World Cup we saw player and infrastructure development as well as player scouting at a young age becoming a focus point of these Asian nations.

“They also invested in bringing in highly-qualified youth coaches with international experience and that helped boost the standard of education. That helped improve the quality of the local coaches too because they learnt from these other international coaches.”

Suddenly, Ertugral says, the European top flight leagues’ scouting network began to be attentive to Asia where they discovered quality players who did not struggle to adapt, given they’d received quality coaching.

These nations were also serious about lifting the competitiveness of their leagues.

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“For the national team to succeed there needs to be a buy in from the professional league, and in Asia they have introduced outstanding training programmes that saw both the professional leagues and the national teams working together.”

The FAs (football associations) understood what club development is. They knew they “needed to have regional undergraduate education programmes with a strong talent programme that manages the process and that is supported by quality people”.

Ertugral cited the Aspire Academy in Qatar as an example of an Asian elite programme that saw football and national governments working together for the good of the sport.

“What has happened in Asia is that the standard of competitiveness has been raised partly because they took the education of their coaches seriously. More importantly, they also became aware that the fundamentals of building a strong football nation lie in doing things right in youth sections, especially around the puberty area by using educated and specialised coaches.”


IOL Sport

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