World Cup 2014 – Good luck Africa

 

One thing that has always caught my attention is how Africa and African football teams are spoken about at the World Cup. It seems as though the last African team left in the tournament somehow carries the hope of not only their nation, but the whole continent of Africa. Headlines such as ‘Ghana – Africa’s Best Hope in Tough World Cup Pool’ and ‘Why do African teams underperform at the World Cup?’ are common and go without questioning if the idea itself makes sense. The idea that African teams are spoken about in very different ways to teams from the rest of the world. Listen closely at how many times commentators and presenters will say things like ‘These players are not just representing their country, but also they are representing Africa’.

Nigeria's players line up for a team photo before their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match against Malawi in Calabar September 7, 2013.  REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

SUPER EAGLE

When Ghana were knocked out of the 2010 World Cup by Uruguay, it was seen as not only a triumph, as Ghana equalled the best result by an African team in World Cup history. Watching Luis Suarez’ handball and sending off, Asamoah Gyan’s subsequent penalty miss and Abreu’s audacious chip to win it, was one of the most heartbreaking events in recent World Cup history. It endeared Ghana and in particular Asamoah Gyan, to hearts all over the world; not just African hearts.

In last nights BBC World Cup preview show, Reggie Yates spoke about the history of African sides at the World Cup and about the chances of Ghana escaping the group of death this year. He quoted the African saying ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’. I’m sorry but on a continent where approximately 2000-3000 different languages are spoken, not to mention possibly 8000 dialects, the idea of the African proverb makes no sense. Africa is not a country. The proverb European or South American proverb makes no sense, so how can a proverb from Africa be acceptable? It just seems as though Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Algeria get lumped together when the need to explain how they perform and where they come from arises. Speaking of under-performing, do African teams really underperform?

If we go by appearances in the last 16 (that is countries that qualify from their group), we see that Africa is actually the 4th most successful continent over the last 6 World Cups. The 3rd most successful is North America, with 9 appearances in the knockout stages to Africa’s 5 (Asia has 4 while Oceania has 1). If we look at quarter-final appearances however, Africa beats North America 3 -1, with quarter-final appearances by Ghana (2010), Senegal (2002) and Cameroon (1990) to the one appearance by the USA in 2002. So in terms of progression in the tournament, African sides come in 3rd to Europe and South America. South Korea earned Asia’s only spot in the quarter finals of the 2002 World Cup and Oceania’s furthest foray was in the last 16 with Australia in 2006. So do African teams really under achieve? I’ll leave that to you to decide.

Did Germany carry the hopes of Europe when they reached the final of the 2006 World Cup? Do the defending champions Spain go into this years tournament being spoken of as Europe’s best hope of a World Cup? Much has been made of the socio-economic problems that Brazil has, and we have heard over and over again, that failure for Brazil to win the World Cup would be a disaster for its people. Would it be a disaster for the rest of the South American continent? Of course not. Perhaps many Argentinians would relish seeing Brazil knocked out before them. After all, Brazil represents Brazilians. Greece for Greeks. Iran for Iranians. Cameroon for…Africans? Sure many Africans will hope that other African side do well, but I’m sure an Ivorian would much prefer to see Ivory Coast progress rather than supporting the African nation with the best squad, out of a sense of ‘Africanism’??

Brazil Team Guide (3).jpg

If Nigeria reach the World Cup final against Brazil on the 13th July, many Africans will be cheering for Nigeria. Maybe, just maybe, there will also be some Africans watching the same game wearing Neymar Jr on their backs.

http://aworminhorseradish.wordpress.com/2014/06/12/on-africa-and-the-world-cup/

 

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By Mzee Posted in kenya

2 comments on “World Cup 2014 – Good luck Africa

  1. The Croatia manager Niko Kovac has continued his attack on Yuichi Nishimura, the referee from the opening game of the World Cup, after the Japanese official controversially awarded Brazil a penalty in the home side’s 3-1 victory on Thursday night.

    Kovac was outspoken in the press conference after the game, saying: “If anybody saw this was a penalty anywhere in the stadium, raise their hands. If you continue like this you will have 100 penalties.” However, he was even harsher in his criticism when speaking to the Croatian broadcaster HTV.

    “If that was a penalty, we don’t need to play football any more,” he said. “Let’s play basketball. It’s a shame. We talk about respect, but that wasn’t respect – Croatia didn’t get any. If that’s how you start the World Cup, we’d all better give it up and go home.”

    Dejan Lovren was judged to have fouled Brazil’s striker Fred, resulting in a penalty for the hosts. The Southampton defender was the most furious among Croatia players. “I can hardly hold back the tears,” he said. “Why don’t they just hand out the trophy to Brazil right away? Everything is going their way, everyone is saying they must win it, so why do we play then?

    “The ref didn’t even speak English. I asked him why did he give the penalty and he just mumbled something. My team-mates tell me the same thing – how can you have an international ref who is officiating the opening match, but he doesn’t speak English and you can’t even speak to him?”

    The captain Darijo Srna tried very hard to choose the right words. He said: “It’s hard to stay cool-headed after a defeat like that. We expected the referee to be biased, but not like this … You know, they always tell us about fair play, the refs even hold meetings with us captains about that – and then they do this. But we must begin our preparations for Cameroon, in five days nobody will ask us how we lost to Brazil.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/jun/13/niko-kovac-penalty-dont-need-play-football-world-cup

    • Netherlands demolish defending World Cup champ Spain 5-1
      web1_1490088-7578df19fd524e93801925d8ff0e6ad0.jpg

      Netherlands’ Robin van Persie scores a goal during the group B World Cup soccer match between Spain and the Netherlands at the Arena Ponte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
      web1_1490088-36e3ca1079734758b1df9d16a86a5cbb.jpg

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