Soccer: Africa’s 2013 championship kick-off in South Africa
Special to USAfrica multimedia networks, Houston • www.USAfricaonline.com @Twitter.com/Chido247, Facebook.com/USAfricaChido n Facebook.com/USAfrica247
By Amoky/editing and additional info by USAfricaonline.com
USAfrica: The African Cup of Nations is the biggest football competition in Africa. Football in the continent has been growing in leaps and bound in the last 20 years, it has witnessed significant followership within the football world. It is evident this weekend of January 19, 2013.
South Africa’s Siphiwe Tshabalala takes on Algeria’s Saad Tediar
The African Cup of Nations promises to be exciting as some of the best in the continent are competing for the trophy. An estimated record of 6.6 billion cumulative television viewers follow the most prestigious African sport.
Some of the biggest media organizations such ESPN, Al Jazeera, EuroSport, (and many others) will be covering the tournament. The fact that the competition is (being) hosted in South Africa brings memories of the successful 2010 World Cup in the same country.
The 2013 competitors are the defending champion Zambia, Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Algeria, Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Cape Verde, Morocco, Angola, Mali, Niger and host South Africa.
Cameroun and Egypt absent.
Cameroun and Egypt will be absent for the second time in a row. Cameroun had to deal with thorny administrative issues which reflected on the soccer pitch. They lost out in the qualifiers to first timer Cape Verde, while Egypt got eliminated by relatively unknown Central African Republic . The Egyptian team have most of their players plying their trade in Egypt. It faced the suspension of their league due to the football riots that occurred in the city of Port Said late in 2012; the suspension took a toll on the fitness of the players.
Watch out for Cape Verde and Ethiopia.
The twist to this competition is that the relatively ‘minor’ soccer nations are establishing remarkable presence. The emergence of the lesser football powers is probably an indication of a paradigm shift in the African soccer landscape. This 2013 edition has debutant Cape Verde, Niger republic making back to back return; and Ethiopia who are returning after 36 years absence. Cape Verde qualified at the expense of Cameroun. Cape Verde’s goalless draw against Nigerian team in friendly warm game illustrate why the islanders cannot be underrated. They might be the surprise pack of the competition.
The African Cup of Nations has been the main platform in showcasing the plethora of talents that abound in the continent. It has exposed soccer stars like Roger Milla, Rabar Madjer, Abedi Pele, Austin Okocha, Finidi George, George Weah, Rashidi Yekini, Samuel Eto, Michael Essien, Didier Drogba, Abedi Pele, etc.
Several recruiters mark their calendar to visit this great soccer festival to discover burden talent. African players are generally strong with great physical attributes and naturally talented.
Before the late 90s, the bi-annual competition was, in some sense, behind — as there was little attraction to it from a global perspective. There were potentials for growth though as some of the soccer giants in continent showed glimpses of what Africa had in store in terms of talents.
Algeria and Cameroun represented Africa at the 1982 World Cup and put a performance that was worthy of note. Algeria defeated West Germany (eventually runners up) 2-1, while Cameroun drew all her games. This was an indication of what to expect in the future.
The 1990 World Cup proved to be the turning point as Cameroun stunned the world with a performance beyond logical expectation; they qualified for the quarter finals of the World Cup, the first by any African team. They defeated defending champions Argentina in the opening game on their way to achieving this heroic feat.
Cameroun’s exploit became a significant landmark in the history of African soccer. This put the continent within the view of the football world, thus earning three spots in subsequent editions. Africa‘s representation had increased to five since then.
Egypt have won the title more than any other nation, they have won to 7 times and 3 times back to back from 2006 to 2010. Unfortunately, they will be missing for the second time since 2010 when the competition kicks off in South Africa in January 2013.
Tackling CAF challenges.
The African Cup of Nation have being without criticisms and challenges. Club managers in Europe, particularly in the English Premiership have frowned at the timing of the competition as it is normally held between January and February, a crucial period for football. Club generally. Every club wants to have its best players around the critical season. It has being generally suggested by some that the Confederation of African Football (CAF)competition should be played at the end of the European football season.
It makes logical sense as the entire attention will be given to it in terms of viewership, but the climatic nature in certain parts continent does not favour such move as it rains torrentially during period suggested. The only other way to alleviate the situation is probably for the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to consider holding the tournament every four years; just as it is held in Europe and South America.
Other constraints that have marred the competition is the issue of filling the spectator’s stands. One can only hope that it would be different in South Africa. Past championships usually have the stands less than half full. The reason responsible for this is not far-fetched. Ticket price are usually far more that the average African can afford. Subsidising the gate fee significantly would make a huge difference. Fortunately, the 2013 event has sold more than 700,000 tickets, a record setting business. The competition will not be void of the usual excitement, and the fun-fare of the vuvuzela. So let’s get ready to watch the best Africa has to offer this January 2013.
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• For seasoned insights and breaking news on these issues, log on to USAfricaonline.com and USAfrica powered e-groups including USAfrica at googlegroups. Follow us at Facebook.com/USAfricaChido, Facebook.com/USAfrica247 n Twitter.com/Chido247
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The greatest Igbo ODUMEGWU OJUKWU’s great farewell in Aba. By Chido Nwangwu http://usafricaonline.com/2012/02/28/the-greatest-igbo-odumegwu-ojukwu-farewell-in-aba-by-chido-nwangwu
USAfrica: Ikemba ODUMEGWU OJUKWU’s farewell in Aba, today February 28, 2012, reflected a fitting tribute, historically meaningful celebration, proper regard and deserving appreciation of the greatest Igbo, in my opinion, to have ever lived (like him or hate him).
I SALUTE Aba (aka Enyimba city), the robust and fearless town I was born, bred and raised, for giving the Ikemba, our Ochiagha, Gburugburu, Oka oburu uzo, dike na ndu ma n’onwu, mgbadike anyi, a hero’s farewell.
To the Ikemba, may your valiant soul rest in peace and dignity.
We will, and I, Chido Nwangwu, will never forget to continue to tell my generation and the next about your towering courage through tempest and thunder; through sorrow, pain, tears, blood…. •Dr. Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica multimedia networks, first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com; and recipient of several journalism and public policy awards, was recently profiled by the CNN International for his pioneering works on multimedia/news/public policy projects for Africans and Americans. http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/international/2010/07/29/mpa.african.media.bk.a.cnn.
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• For seasoned insights and breaking news on these issues, log on to USAfricaonline.com and USAfrica powered e-groups including Nigeria360 at yahoogroups and USAfrica at googlegroups. Follow us at Facebook.com/USAfricaChido and Twitter.com/Chido247