| Tavita |
THE pundits are on.
It’s time for us watchers to reflect a bit and puff up the pillows while waiting for the advertisers, sponsors, agents, bookies and magnetised greenboards to get off the screen.
That means turning the volume down and trying to keep the brain in shape until the actual football’s back.
After all, the annual Africa Cup of Nations starts again tonight.
It’s the thirtieth edition and will be hosted by Equatorial Guinea, after Morocco pulled out because of the ebola epidemic.
Sixteen teams have come through the qualifiers and will be playing in four pools until the knock-out rounds early next month.
According to top football writers, as opposed to passing TV pundits, there are some pretty sensational new players on show whom we haven’t see much of over here.
Ferjani Sassi, the Tunis midfielder, currently playing for Metz in France; the nineteen year old Cameroon goalkeeper, Fabrice Ondoa; Ghana’s winger Frank Acheampong of Anderlecht;
Crystal Palace’s playmaker, Yannick Bolasie from DR Congo; and midfielder Didier Ndong of Gabon.
So, good stuff.
And, for fun on the side, there’s also all the nicknames: \r
The booming Equatorial Guinea National Thunder crashes and the Burkino Faso Stallions stampede.
The Gabon Panthers biting the tails off the Congo Red Devils as the Ghanaian Black Stars light up the night skies.
Zambian Copper Bullets flashing around the six yard box, bringing down Ivorian Elephants before they can trample on the Algerian Desert Warriors who’ve just avoided being gobbled up by the Cap Verde Blue Sharks on the look out for DR Congo Leopards and Gabon Panthers before they are spotted by the Cameroon Indomitable Lions or even the Senegalese ones.
And everything eyed from way up above by the Mali and Tunisian Eagles who are about to be shot down by the ever-watchful Bafana Bafana from South Africa.
Good on you, Africa, I reckon.
The 19th Century’s long, long gone. Surely the world’s moved on since the time of Darkest Africa, the place the agents used to go to hunt for diamonds and contract slaves. It’s the 21st Century now. Africa’s the continent of football jewels and highly paid employees.
It’s Brightest Africa!
Or is it?
Why is this is always an especially annoying time of the year for Euro football managers?
The one they have to bear with a reluctant nod of globalised cooperation.
The one they appear to loathe.
“Grrrrr!” they secretly go to themselves, as they study what’s left on the benches and search for who to fill in with while the Africa Cup of Nations is on.
“Why is it on every year?”, they comment.
Perhaps it’s time for us watchers to come up with a comment or two of our own.
Possibly nothing deep down has changed.
The Global Football industry, especially the Euro one, seems to depend to a very large extent upon rounding up Africans to do all the basic work.
The sixteen qualifiers for the 2015 Cup of Nations are allowed up to 24 players per squad.
This, I rapidly calculate, while turning the pundit volume switch down, adds up to a maximum of three hundred and seventy eight players.
On show in the coming three weeks from the African Cup will be no less than two hundred seventy six of them who play for non-African clubs.
The only side looking remotely like an old-fashioned national team, drawn from its own local league playing resources is South Africa.
Business is not quite, of course, conducted in the treasured nineteenth century manner, but hints of the digging up and carting away of natural resources could still be said to linger on.
And the multi-zillion dollar six-yard boxes and allied midfield plantations may not quite ressemble the cotton fields of old but, all the same …….
Of the three hundred and seventy eight African stars in their national Cup Squads, an awful lot have been transported overseas.
Seventy five work for clubs in France.
Next on the import list is Spain with twenty six, followed by England with twenty one, Belgium with twenty, Germany with eighteen,
Turkey and Portugal with fifteen and Italy with eleven.
Then, twenty two other Euro league countries account for sixty two others while the rest are spread around Asia and America.
Slave trade? How dare one suggest such a disgusting suggestion! Exploitation of other people’s natural resources?
Or is it?
The commercial break will be over soon. The puns will soon start ditting again..
Am I right or am I wrong? I leave it to Chuku Chuku , the mascot for the tournament.
He may be only a local squirrel.
But at least he plays in Africa.