Despite the optimism that accompanies Africa’s five World Cup representatives heading to Russia this summer, former Cameroon international Lauren doesn’t believe any of the quintet can realistically reach the final four.
Africa have never before produced a World Cup semi finalist, but have had three nations — Cameroon (1990), Senegal (2002), Ghana (2010) — all reach the quarter finals.
Lauren believes the wait is set to continue, and that the final eight is the glass ceiling for any of Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal this summer.
“I could say Africa will be in the semis, we’re going to win, but that’s not the reality,” the former Arsenal man told BBC Sport. “To be honest with you I can’t see any of them going further than the quarter finals.
“This is my honest opinion because we are still one step behind the top teams.”
Lauren, who won two African Cup of Nations crowns with Cameroon, represented the Indomitable Lions at the 1998 and the 2001 World Cups.
“I can’t see them challenge the Germans, Argentina, Spain or Brazil,” he added. “They are not on that level.”
Africa’s teams each have reasons for optimism heading into this summer’s showpiece.
Both Egypt and Senegal endured testing recent international breaks, but have been handed favourable draws at the tournament itself.
Nigeria will take encouragement from a qualifying campaign in which they cruised through Africa’s ‘Group of Death’, while a come-from-behind friendly victory over World Cup opponents Argentina in late 2017 also raised expectations.
Finally, Morocco are a well organised outfit who have a wealth of options across the pitch. A difficult group including Spain and Portugal has dampened expectations, but the North Africans will be quietly confident that a defence that didn’t concede a single goal during qualifying gives them a chance against the European heavyweights.
However, Lauren believes that football administration in Africa continues to hold the continent’s team’s back, but thinks that he’s someone whose experience could help prompt an improvement.
“I don’t like to lie to people,” the 41-year-old continued. “I am very honest, I speak my mind because we don’t do things the right way.
“It happens in football, it happens in so many other African societies.
“Politics is in my blood but I wouldn’t like to really got into politics, but maybe to try to help African football with the knowledge I have got about business and how to do things in a structural way.”