By Adeola Aderounmu
Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Algeria, Cameroon and Ghana will fly Africa’s flags at the world cup which starts on the 12th of June in Brazil. Egypt went to the world cup in Italy in 1934. That was the first time an African country featured at the championship which started in 1930 in Uruguay. Since then 13 countries in total from Africa have participated at various editions of the mundial. The other 12 countries are Morocco, Zaire, Tunisia, Algeria, Cameroon, Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal, Angola, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo.
When Africa’s representatives at the world cup for 2014 arrive in Brazil this summer they will be chasing an unfulfilled dream-that an African country is ripe enough to win the world cup.
To make this dream come true, Cameroon will have to cross the hurdles in Group A where they will do battle with the host Brazil, Croatia and Mexico.
Cameroonians are playing in their 7th world cup. This is an African record. But what has Cameroon got to show for previous appearances? The best exploits came in Italy in 1990 as the career of Roger Milla was winding up. Cameroon was beaten in the quarter finals by England. After Italian 90, Cameroon quickly transformed and became “not indomitable”. For an African country to win the world cup, consistency must be shown.
Ivory Coast is a country also in need of consistency and even more, delivery. This country must emerge from Group C that include Colombia, Greece and Japan.
The men representing Ivory Coast and led by Didier Drogba are the popular golden generation that has won nothing to show for the name tag-“golden”.
This is the third straight world cup for the so called golden generation. They failed to emerge from the groups in 2006 and 2010. Any country that wants to win the world cup must be able to emerge first from the group. It will not matter if the group is mildly classified or if it is termed the group of death.
One country that shaped the organisation of FIFA’s world cup after the 1982 edition was Algeria. In 1982 Germany and Austria “sold” their last game “to each other” so that Algeria could be eliminated. You need to find and read that story if you love the history and football. In 1982, the Germans and the Austrians brought huge shame to football.
Football scandals or match fixers are not restricted to Asia or any particular geographical part of the world. Rather it is something that has been a part of football at every level and in almost every country for as long as the game has been in existence. The roles of FIFA officials in recent reports seriously brought the game into disrepute, again. Yet, this is a game people love no matter the problems related to scandal or “arranged outcomes”.
Through the years, bad planning, maladministration and useless preparations have ensured that Nigeria just added to the numbers of the countries going to the world cup.
To date, especially since the Algerian exploits of 1982 and the Cameroonian efforts of 1990, the performances of African countries since 1934 (though sporadically filled with some other brilliant moments) have not matched the expectations of the people of Africa.
Brazilian legend Pele predicted that an African country will win the world cup at the turn of the last century. It did not happen. Even at the time that the profiles of African players rose both on the continent and abroad, it has been impossible for Africa to deliver on high promises. In South Africa when Ghana crumbled, Africa returned to square one of the struggle to win the world cup.
The organisation of football on the African continent needs a range of face-lifting processes. In North Africa, it appears that the organisation has always been solid. There were a lot of setbacks in some North African countries as a result of the Arab spring. But some countries (like Algeria) are reported to be making big strides even attracting players from France to the Algerian league. One hopes that Egypt will rise again.
Adeola Aderounmu via email@example.com