Starting from Scratch
| Tavita |
IT’S vuvuzela time tonight. In Soccer City, Jo’burg. South Africa versus Cape Verde.
The Africa Cup of Nations.
One of the four great continental football cups dating back to 1916 and the start of the Copa America, followed by the Asia Cup in 1956, the Africa Cup in 1957 and, the baby of them all, the European One which began in 1958!
For EPL coaches and managers… pretty much as always.
A regular downright nuisance!
Unlike the other continental cups, it comes round every year and really, really irritates them.
It’s the equivalent of pandemics, climate change, natural disasters and fiscal cliffs, all rolled into twenty-two days.
It’s an annual itch that needs to be scratched.
“Grrrrr!” they go. “Just when we’re all ready to start leaping up out of the bleedin’ relegation zone and head for the top four Holy Land….along comes this flaming nuisance of an event!”
Itch … itch!
“Oi!” the cry goes out on the training ground. “You over there! You with the multi-clause, zillion dollar contract! Stop dribbling around and dreaming about your ancestors! How come you have to take off to blasted Africa when we’ve got three weekends of six-pointers due?”
Scratch …. scratch!
It’s a very depressing attitude. It fails to deepen understanding of the global game. It widens no horizons. It’s insensitive. It shows no apprecia-tion of the role played by African footballers in the development of a highly influential global industry… et cetera…et cetera… yawn…yawn…yawn!
More to the point, it damages some people’s brains and makes some others want to walk off the pitch. So, to avoid the risk of contagion and monkey impressions behind the goal, managers and coaches really need to change their ways….
Itch themselves in private and start to scratch more positively!
After all, without the Africa Cup, none of us would know much about Cape Verde.
An excellent place to start scratching…
A little collection of ten tiny islands off the west coast of Africa and all eyes will be focussed on them tonight. Not on the well-known powerhouse sides.
Not on Ghana, South Africa, title-holders Zambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Algeria, Nigeria, the Congo, Morocco, or any of the others who have taken African football to World Cup level.
Not even on the Cameroons who first made world watchers sit up and taken notice of African football. The Cameroons aren’t in it this year since they got knocked out in the qualifying round.
And by whom? The ones making their very first start in the Africa Cup in tonight’s Big Opener.
Deep in Vuvuzelaland….
The little Blue Sharks from Cape Verde.
The team from a land of 500, 000 people…. just a fraction more than our Land of the Wasps!
Once the Birthplace of Imperialism, where Portugal set up the first ever permanent overseas European settlement.
An excellent spot back then for signing up talented midfield slaves before the days of agents, scouts and CEOs, when replica contracts were given out free!
A venue for World Cup qualifiers…. Portugal vs. Francis Drake!
A dark, dark past but a much better present.
A tourist destination now.
With a special feature on Ilha do Sal, targeting EPL strikers.
ILHA DO SAL?
The home of a world-renowned Diving School with special rates for Uruguayans, Welsh left backs and Southampton wingers.
A diver’s paradise with heaps of defensive wrecks to get past, plenty of floating midfielders and a massive array of back-four dolphins, full-back turtles and goalkeeping sharks!
Ambitious EPL strikers would do well to sign for an off-season course. Dives, lessons and equipment are arranged by resort representatives, as well as night dives and dive packages in specially designed six-yard boxes.
And, in the evenings, you can fly in the wag and a couple of spare lambourghinis, take off to the beach and listen to fabulous morna!
The music of the islands…and the late Cesaria Evora, closing in on the microphone.
“Sodade! Sodade!”…. “The longing! The longing!”
“Dess nha terra Sao Nicolau”…. “This land of mine!”
The knowledge of knowing it’s gone forever.
The most beautiful Song of the Exile for anyone, anywhere, far from home, and feeling the soul a-throbbing and longing.
So, nothing to do at half-time, mates? Treat yourselves to a special treat. Find Cesaria on Youtube. Drown the vuvuzelas and float away to sofatime heaven!
Back to the home of Nani, you Man United fans! The cradle of Gelson, you Man City fans, Switzerland’s slayer of Spain in World Cup 2010.
The land of Patrick Vieira’s mum and Henrik Larsson’s dad!
And Cristiano’s grandma!
Plus a heap of others in a dozen Euro Premier Leagues and us sofatime exiles sharing their dreams…..
Each with our own Cape Verde!