Thursday, October 1, 2020

Great stars that never shine

Without doubt, football is a popular global sport that draws incredible support worldwide.
It even brings the world to a standstill when there is a big tournament, like the World Cup and the Olympics. The World Cup is by far the most intense and almost everybody wants to be associated with it.

There are always cases of husbands betting with their wives and even kids and other sorts of weird stories once the tournament is underway.

Currently, the month long global showpiece is being held in neighbouring South Africa, the first of its kind on African soil.

The fact of it being brought to Africa has brought high hopes for native teams. Many Africans believed that several African representatives would do well and reach the latest stages of the tournament; however that has not happened as the continent is a big disappointment.
Of the six representatives, only one team, Ghana, has made it to the second round while others are licking their wounds back in their native countries.

Many things worked in favour of African teams but they failed to capitilise on that.
The obvious one is the support that was always available to the them. South African has for several years been the desirable destination for many soccer migrants, especially from West Africa, looking for greener pastures. They have been coming in large numbers to the extent they have infested almost all South African big cities.

That was a plus for African teams because many supporters did not travel for the tournament. West African countries were led in numbers for African countries that made it to the tournament.
Of the six countries, four are from West Africa and they are Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon.

Algerian and the hosts, South Africa, complete the total number. African teams failed even to use the noisy plastic trumpet known as ‘Vuvuzela’ to their advantage.

Many European countries have been complaining about it saying it makes communication on the field of play difficult.

With all the talent brimming in the African teams, a lot was expected.
Almost all European teams that won major tournaments have African players that played a pivotal role. Names like Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast), Samuel Eto, Alexandre Song (Cameroon), Obafemi Martins of Nigeria are always in the headlines of big media organizations around the world, mainly for their impressive performances. But they were just a shadow of themselves and attracted a lot of criticism from their respective countries. Many soccer supporters were expecting them to lead their national teams to glory with pride and passion but it was not to be. The record of African teams in the World Cup is not that impressive at all because they have only managed to reach the quarter finals.

To date only two countries have made it to the quarter finals and these are Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal eight years ago.

The little hope Africans have is on Ghana and if they are knocked out it’s then all over for the continent and Africans would have to rally behind other nations.

Ghana started well by defeating Serbia with a solitary goal, then went on to draw with the ‘Socceroos’ of Australia. Even though they lost to Germany by a goal, they managed to make it to the next stages.

Ivory Coast, on the other hand, managed to hold Portugal to a goalless draw but they lost passage to the next round when Brazil thrashed them 3-1.

FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, is the one who actually fought hard for the World Cup to be held in Africa. Since assuming the Presidency in 1998, he contended that Africa should be awarded because it has produced incredible talent for many teams around the world.

Blatter even once accused the European nations for what he said is ‘modern slavery’ because he contended that they were not ploughing back to the continent despite the stars they have.
However, it looks like it will take some time for African stars abroad to take African football to greater heights.

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