As it stands, none of our African teams have a guaranteed slot in the next round. In fact, most of them have a guaranteed flight home. The others are praying to go through on technicality, not performance.
All this during the World Cup we have so been waiting for. Much as it is sad and frustrating, it is also quite curious. It makes one wonder when an African man shall raise that trophy as though he were about to thrust it into the sky in elation. Worse than when, my worry is now whether or not this will ever be a reality.
Theoretically, yes. It’s just a matter of time. Statistically speaking anyway. But sometimes one has to wonder; if not now, then when?
Probability aside, the reality of things is that the tournament is only getting more competitive and seems to be expanding beyond our grasp. Teams like the USA where nobody plays this sport have grown faster than those in a continent where this is not a sport but a lifestyle. Yeah, the US may have a silver spoon in it’s mouth but we we’re born with a leather ball at our feet. Our talent trumps. Or at least it should.
It’s 2010, we have many of the best footballers in the world playing for African nations; we also have world-class coaches in our midst, internationally trained teams and athletes with sizeable funds behind them….oh, and we’re hosting the damn tournament.
There has never been this much African presence at a World Cup Tournament. The stats were juked in our favor: 6 out of 32 teams are African(7 if you count France) so that gives us a 1 in 5 representation. You’re telling me that if the world were divided in 5ths, Africa would be the bottom 5th battling with Oceania and Asia. In Football???? Come on.
And at home!!!
Try as you may, but you cannot downplay the effect of being a Host Nation. Part of the excitement in getting to host the tournament is getting a serious shot at clasping that golden statue. South Africa will become the first Host Nation not to make it past the first round. I mean, even the US made it to Round 2 in 1994; albeit barely. But back then, to be quite frank, they had as crappy a team as one could put together and ended up getting knocked out by Brazil – Romario’s Brazil at that. So they held their heads high when they walked away from that 1-0 defeat.
Don’t we deserve to hold our heads high too? Wouldn’t this be the time to see some real African hands lift up that lunk of Gold? Don’t we owe it to Madiba to give him that last grace of seeing his people(Africa, not just SA) win at something we KNOW we’re the best at anyway? I mean dude is 91, this may be his last World Cup(I hope not, but hey, 91 is a big number.) What about the fans, the supporters; the stage is set for an incredible victory. But alas there are no victors playing.
Maybe we’re just not ready for that honor. Maybe we never will be.
Let’s hope this is a dream deferred, not deterred.
PostScript: The editor in me is saying that the correct phrasing of that title should be “Will an African nation ever win the World Cup?” Alas, that is a different but similar question. See, it’s never about what country or squad is on the pitch at the time; if they’re African, Africa is supporting them. Much as we are divided into 50 something units that often squabble and disagree, we all rally behind each other when it’s time to play ball.