Friday, June 18, 2010

The Unbearable Lightness of Being... a West African @ FIFA 2010 World Cup

For what was touted to be a quintessentially "African world cup", I believe the reputation has not preceded it in any way!

Let me just say I had a problem which revolved round the specious argument that it being on African soil was tantamount to an "African win". To have heard so much of it in the Western press and African one was just so absurd it was not funny.

Still, it's good to have a sense of humour about these things, and prepare oneself for any eventuality.

I have to say that I was prepared to see NIGERIA crash out...but not as early as it did. Buoyed by its successful first goal against GREECE, I thought the Super Eagles would manage to maintain their goal. Sadly, they were not, dashing all hopes for a greater presence of West African teams into the second round.

I know I'm being presumptuous again--imagining that GHANA's Black Stars would have beaten AUSTRALIA and gone through Saturday, but sadly...tomorrow will tell. GHANA ought not to be complacent. With SERBIA having beaten GERMANY 1-0, the tables can turn dramatically.

Which means that the amateur and armchair-spectator-analyst in me would like to presage a narrative based on a formulation that sees at least TWO West African countries (viz: Ivory Coast and Ghana) go through. Out of the African teams (South Africa; Cameroon; Ivory Coast; Ghana; Nigeria; Algeria), half are in West Africa, which is probably not saying much.


If you consider the fact that in FIFA 2006 world cup, there were no less than three West African countries out of the four from West Africa--viz:Ivory Coast; Ghana; Togo--with Angola being the "outsider", it's clear that West Africa matters in world football.

Contrast that to FIFA 2002 World Cup, and you'll notice thatNigeria and Senegal were present. At FIFA 1998 World Cup, only Nigeria was present.

You must get the picture by now: West Africa is a force to deal with, and will continue to be.

Despite the relative inclemency of the weather (the South African winter I hear is biting hard my fellow countrymen who are there to support Ghana!) that is inversely proportional to the typical "African" weather, we can safely say that this has, in retrospect, not really been that much of an "African" world cup.

You may forgive me for wanting to wrap this entry up and genuflect between now and tomorrow for Ghana to have no less than an emphatic win over Australia!

***
Just in case you missed my piece on "Accra Daily Photo" summarizing the game in June 2006 in Germany, you can catch it here: http://accradailyphoto.blogspot.com/2006/06/quadrennial-world-cup-sensitivities.html
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