How smaller football nations are making the sport even better. Over the years there have been so many games that surprise soccer fans around the world. Things that come to mind are World Cups where countries like Costa Rica & Morocco make it all the way to the quarterfinals.
How things are changing
How smaller soccer Countries are changing the game is the question?
At the end of the day the team as to be filled with 100% passion to work harder than the other team.
A European Country that has taken it’s spot as one of the elite Countries to develop players is Belgium.
Not only is the Belgian senior team doing well, but their youth system too.
Why is it that small Countries can compete against large Countries like Brazil?
One reason is because all it takes is 11 players on the field to do the job.
Having other players to fill the role is important, but my point is no matter how big the Country you only need to find 20 players to make a strong pool.
Developing soccer players young & finding the hungry
If the youth coaches are developing the technical side, then the National Team Coaches need to build a good system with hungry players.
There needs to be opportunity for the rich and poor.
Some countries find a way to give those who don’t have tons of money a way to be seen.
Other nations are only scouting those who play in the pay to play leagues…
Why is this?
Get out of your comfort zone
Players who are trying to compete at the highest levels in the club scene vs staying domestic and comfortable.
US players playing in Europe vs MLS
There are smaller Countries even in the Caribbean that have really good players, who play in 2nd tier clubs in Holland, England, France.
These are good leagues and the players are getting better there.
There is also that chance of moving up to a Division 1 Club in Europe.
When smaller football nations earned respect
At the time, I was playing professional soccer and was living in Denmark and Singapore.
The World Cup was going on while I was moving from one country to the other.
The U.S. made me so proud that year because they made it all the way to the quarterfinals losing to Germany who was one of the best teams in the world!
At that time we were not a good football nation and everybody kind of made fun of us.
Literally, in those few weeks of national team success, the world started to respect us more.
In addition, ever since that World Cup, the U.S. has always made it out of group stages which most countries cannot say.
There are 211 National associations.
Each nation has to be a member of one of the six Regional Confederations…
The 6 regions are Africa, Asia, Europe, North and Central America and the Caribbean, Oceania and South America.
CONCACAF = North America, Central America, and the Caribbean
UEFA = Union of European football associations
CONMEBOL = South America
AFC = Asian Football Confederation
OFC = Oceania ( New Zealand, Fiji, Tonka and other Pacific Islands) Australia left to join the Asian Football Confederation
CAF = Confederation Africa football
What is FIFA?
Federation International Football Association is the international governing body of association football Kama Futsal and Beach Soccer.
FIFA is responsible for the organization of footballs major International tournaments.
Notably the World Cup which commenced in 1930 and the Women’s World Cup which commenced in 1991.
Sometimes a bigger pool is harder to find players
Maybe this is an excuse for the US Soccer, but I have read articles that talk about the scouts in US Soccer not all pulling their weight.
I’m not hear to solve any problems on this post. Although, there are several things that need to improve in almost every Country.
Only a few Countries in the World even stay ranked top 10 decade after decade.
Germany & Brazil are the only 2 that I can think of who are consistently ranked top 10 worldwide.
I would say Argentina, but just look how they almost didn’t even make the World Cup 2018. Sure, in 2022 they won the cup, but what if they didn’t?
In 2018 Leo Messi is the only player to score for Argentina in many months and matches.
It takes more than 1 or 2 players to make a team really compete and be successful each year… In ’22 Argentina became a complete team.
Portugal, Spain and Croatia are also consistently ranked high. These are smaller football nations in size, but not in competition.
It’s not about the talent but the environment
To compete against the best players in the World you have to not only have great technical ability, but also the challenge week in and week out to improve.
Many of the US Players are making great money in the MLS, but not being challenged the same as in Italy, Spain, England, Germany or France.
Not only is the player going to play at a higher level, but they will gain more respect from opposing players.
Imagine if you are playing against a team full of players who play for Real Madrid, FC Porto, Dortmund compared to players playing for FC Dallas.
Playing against someone who plays on a BIG stage is going to lower your confidence compared to a weaker team than you or your teammates.
Confidence plays a big role in this and I think USMNT fell victim to this.
Before they used to have tons of players playing overseas, but the year US didn’t make the World Cup most the players were playing MLS.
The failure to make the Cup in 2018 set off a spark…
After ’18 most of the US players were in Europe with big clubs like Barcelona, Chelsea, AC Milan, Dortmund.