African World Cup Representatives With a Lot to Prove
Ghanaian national team goalkeeper Sammy Adjei. Image Source: www.ghanaweb.com

African World Cup Representatives With a Lot to Prove


By Ramathan Kasozi
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First published: February 7, 2006


Fireworks, drumming, hooting, xylophones among others marred everywhere in the capitals of Abidjan, Luanda, Accra and Lome following the surprise maiden qualifications of their teams to the World Cup Final due in June in Germany.

But the level of football flare exhibited by Ivory Coast, Angola, Ghana and Togo teams in the ongoing African Cup of Nations in Cairo, Egypt has left many questions in the minds of the African football fraternity as to whether these teams will be in Munich as competitors or Participants. After three of them (Angola, Togo and Ghana) failing to even qualify for from the group stages, the task awaiting the African representatives seems to be a huge one, if they are to stamp authority in the worlds most prestigious soccer tournament.

The Black stars of Ghana did put up an interesting show in their 1-0 loss to arch rivals Nigeria and their win over the Teranga Lions of Senegal, but they made many of us think it was a fluke performance when they lost 2-1 to a light weight side of Zimbabwe. At the end of the day, the team tactician, Rotomir Dujkovic started crying for the lost milk when he attributed the loss to the absence of his injured midfielders, -Italy based Muntari and Michael Esien of Chelsea. But how sure is the Yugoslav that the same cant happen prior to or during the World Cup?

Nigeria played all the group stages minus their team kingpin Austin Jay Jay Okocha and marksman Yakubu Ayegbeni who preferred his club to national duty. Yet the rest of the team managed to post a fantastic football flair.

So what happened to Ghana? Apart from goalie Sammy Adjei and Skipper Stephen Appiah, the rest of the team didnt show us that they are worthy World Cup material.

What about Togo? Apart from the burst up between team coach Stephen Keshi and his hit man Emmanuel Adebayor, the team had no news to write about. The West Africans failed to pick any point, falling to Cameroon and DR Congo with an identical 2-0 margin, before being humbled 3-2 by their fellow representatives Angola. Keshi should be aware that if he doesnt return to the drawing board, his boys are likely to be taken to school by the big boys in the World Cup tournament.

For Angola, it can be described as a team with entertaining football but no ambition. Their game seems to suit in post primary tournaments. There is no question about the teams striking powers of Flavio Amado and veteran Fabrice Akwa, but coach Oliveira Gonclaves has a lot of panel beating to do with especially his midfield and defensive departments.

But all said, the presence of the new figures in Germany is a blessing in disguise because it serves as a lesion to the African football superpower house in the likes of Nigeria, and the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon who had taken it for granted that their plots in the World Cup were ever vacant.

The failure of Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal to qualify for the World Cup seems to be their own making as it can only be attributed to their arrogance and minimizing their opponents. You may remember that in the early stages of the qualifiers, they were lining up depleted sides only to wake up late when things had gotten sour. Playmakers like Nwanko Kanu and Okocha didnt travel to Kigali to play the Amavuvi wasps of Rwanda, minimizing the hosts. But at the end of the game, the score board was reading 0-0 yet these are the precise points that the Super Eagles needed to go past Angola with whom they were running head to head.

Besides that, it may need an expert to measure the nationalism doctrine of Nigerians, as they tend to superimpose money above everything. On many occasions, the players have refused to kick any ball before they are paid their bonuses. Their football governing body seems to be disorganized as that of Kenya, Tanzania and the former Uganda FUFA government of Denis Obua.

Otherwise, with better organization and preparation, Nigeria is the Brazil of Africa with talent that can match any opponent in the world. But they tend to lineup new faces in every tournament and one cannot help but ask the whereabouts of Udazes, Akadias, Yakubu and company?

There are four months to go and our representatives should go back to their drawing board, do their homework correctly and you never know. They could as well help remind the world how football is a game of upsets. Who could predict that Senegal would reach the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup quarterfinals in their maiden appearance in the tournament?

By Ramathan Kasozi
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First published: February 7, 2006
To learn more about Ultimate Media Consult go to www.ultimatemediaconsult.com.

Ramathan Kasozi is a member of Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd. . A graduate Journalist, Kasozi has more than 5 years experience reporting on sports in Uganda for different print and broadcast media houses.