WORLD CUP 2018: Is Africa Ready To Make History?

By Stephen Asiimwe

The World cup, the biggest sport on planet begins next week in Russia. Ugandans who intend to watch the games will do it at their homes, restaurants and clubs according to research. This year’s world cup will attract five African countries playing in the tournament namely Senegal, Egypt, Morocco,Nigeria and Tunisia. Iam sure my next article will include Uganda; hopefully 2020. The world cup is being hosted in Europe for the 11th time, the most by any continent since 1930 when it started. South America has hosted the games five times, North America (three) Africa and Asia (once each.) I don’t know whether that is marginalization by football standards.

Despite Africans’ passion for football and I have seen it physically during FUFA drum tournaments, Ugandans have embraced and the youths have exhibited their extra ordinary patriotic skills ever seen in football in recent times. Given the good performance of the foot ballers from Africa in the European leagues including the top scorer of premier league 2017/18 Muhammed Salah of Egypt, the performance of Africa has remained like that of lame duck beaten by rain. I have watched with a lot of enthusiasm and hope. In 1990, I saw Cameroon“smelling” the world cup, the team was filled with players from Cameroonian domestic league  led by unknown coach in that match. England scored first before Cameroon came back with two goals to take the lead, however in the 82nd minute England was awarded a penalty which they scored taking the game to extra time. Another penalty was given to England in 105th minute which they scored ending the match 3-2 in their favor. I hope many of you still remember the star of Cameroon team legend Roger Milla.

Therefore what was lacking?Is it experience, skills, exposure of African teams or stars in a team? Cameroon has appeared seven times more than any African nation. The French team that won the 1998 world cup had three key players namely Marcel Desailly who was a Ghanaian by birth his original name is Odenke Abbey (in our Runyankore dialect he would be named “Odenkegyende)” while Patrick Viera was born in Senegal and migrated to France at age of eight. Another player as far as I can remember is Zinedane Zidane who was born in France of Algerian immigrants and recently as a coach  he lifted the champions league trophy before resigning as a coach of Real Madrid last week.  while Africa’s dividends have remained frozen at the quarter finals the continent is still optimistic that we can do well since the number of participants have increased since 1982, up  on the election of Havalange who decided to take one  European slot and gave it to Africa.

In 1982 to 1990 Africa sent two teams and I think that was a turning point for Africa’s football. I can vividly recall the iconic image of Nigeria’s Rashid Yekini gripping the net after scoring against Bulgaria in 1994 world cup with the likes of Stephen Keshi who later became Nigerian coach. It is true the sons of Africa have fared well on the stage. Now what remains is to put the skills together and bring the world trophy to Africa. It can be done during our time so that before we join our fans, foot ballers who have left this earth we have a concrete message to deliver to them. Otherwise the spirits of Nkuruma, Sekou Toure, Nyerere, Sankara may haunt us forever until we deliver on the most loved sport on earth.

Therefore it is important to note that football is about a team not a mere star in a team. A team is built on captains with good numbers of them (Captains) also in the team and everybody capable in various fields and that’s how Germany sealed Argentina in the last world cup, because Argentina concentrated on a mere star (Messi) in the team but German concentrated on stars in the team that’s how Mario Goetz scored in 113th minute at Maracan stadium and sealed the fate of Argentina, that was a variety of stars in the team not just a mere star in a team.

I wish the best team success.





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