World Cup: Inspecting the cavities of Africa’s toothless roar
South Africa are in line to make history by becoming the first host nation to fall at the first hurdle. Despite going into the competition unbeaten in 11 friendly matches the disappointing haul of one point from two games has been met with little surprise.
An ill-disciplined 3-0 defeat against Uruguay undid so much hard work in the curtain raiser against Mexico. While Bafana Bafana fans have always remained realistic about their team’s chances each piece of Diego Forlan magic was met with heartache as another obstacle was slammed down on the route of progression.
While the odd miracle has been known to happen on this stage it seems unlikely to come from a Bafana Bafana who have been found out as the same team that missed out on the 2010 African Cup of Nations after defeat to Sierra Leone.
Nigeria are also inching towards the exit after kicking off their World Cup with back-to-back defeats in Group B. The Super Eagles looked like a team playing with clipped wings against Greece after putting in a reasonable shift in their opener with Argentina.
The puzzler for Nigerian fans is what prevents their young stars from stepping up to senior level. Much of the current squad finished runners-up to a Lionel Messi inspired Argentina at the under-20 World Cup five years ago, this should be there time to shine. Sani Kaita’s red card against Greece was a prime example of how the country’s promising youngsters are struggling to mix it with the big boys.
It remains to be seen how the latest products to fall off the Nigerian conveyor belt of talent will progress. Nigeria once again featured in the final of the under-17 World Cup last year but Sani Emmanuel and Ramon Azeez have a long way to go before they can be bracketed alongside Nwankwo Kanu and Sunday Oliseh.
Algeria were lauded in the press for their composed performance against England but the result leaves them with just a single point to their name. Despite manfully shackling Rooney and co the reality is that Algeria had already put pay to their chances of progression with a naive defeat to Slovenia.
Before heading to South Africa fans of Algeria were already well aware of their side’s ability to offer up both the sublime and the ridiculous. Pipping Egypt to a spot in South Africa came just a few short months after a harrowing 3-0 defeat to Malawi at the African Cup of Nations.
If something is getting lost at youth level in Nigeria then what about African footballers at the opposite end of their careers. Algerian born Rabah Saadane is the only African managing a team in the continent’s first World Cup.
Big bucks have been shelled out to the likes of Carlos Alberto Parreira, Sven-Göran Eriksson and Lars Lagerbäck in the hope of a quick fix, Africa still awaits a return on this investment. Its not just African teams who would do well to remember that no side has ever won the World Cup with a foreigner at the helm.
Under the guidence of their own hired hand Cameroon became the first nation to be officially knocked out in South Africa. Frenchman Paul Le Guen said before the tournament that the quarter-finals was a realistic aim for The Indomitable Lions and few disagreed given their kind draw and a supremely talented squad.
A breath taking opening 15 minutes against Denmark will remain a telling insight into what could have been for Cameroon at this World Cup. The fractious relationship between Le Guen and his players on show at the final whistle summed up why this African team were the first out of the competition.
Ghana remain the only African outfit with a win at these finals but even the expectations surrounding The Black Stars have been tempered following the draw against Australia.
With the opposition down to 10-men Ghana had the prefect chance to give Africa even more to cheer about but instead they failed to kill off the Australians. Now Ghana must go for broke against a wounded German side if they are to repeat their performance of four years ago and reach the knock-out rounds.
Along with Ghana the Ivory Coast have been blessed with their most talented generation of footballers ever during this last decade. Neither side however has even an African Cup of Nations title to show for it and the Ivory Coast know that this World Cup represents the last chance for their players to do something special.
An unkind draw will see progression by the Ivory Coast to the knock-out rounds as cause for celebration up and down Africa. To advance from Group G however they must pick up something against Brazil.
After the game with the Ivory Coast the five times winners from South America could well have twice as many victories at this World Cup finals than the entire continent of Africa combined.Tagged in: england, Messi, rooney, south africa, world cup
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