As African countries vie against each other to win the rights to hold the Soccer World Cup in 2010, the question “which African country will impress FIFA the most” gets more difficult to answer. Pite Mogoje gives his answers.
FIFA decided to rotate the soccer World Cup games around continents to stop incidents of domination by Europe . This new system starts in Africa in 2010.
Already all football association member countries in South America have decided that Brazil will host the 2014 World Cup. This helps the Brazilians to prepare their infrastructure for the challenges ahead. They do not have to spend millions running around the world campaigning for their bid’s support.
Most unfortunately unity among Africans has always been a chronic problem. If Africans could emulate the South Americans and say “we support one African country that already has better resources in place” then it would be great. But we are not united so these are the contenders for the hosting in Africa :
Morroco and Tunisia:
Approximately 30 million ( Morocco )
Approximately 11 million ( Tunisia )
SA’s toughest opponents in the race are Morocco and Tunisia . As the Moroccans are now trying for the fourth time, FIFA might be sympathetic and the majority votes might head their way. The other tricky issue is Morocco could team up with Tunisia and co-host the games. What could benefit Morocco is her close proximity to Europe . The Europeans might decide to vote for Morocco so they can come to play their games and fly back home afterwards.
But as some people are abusing the word “terrorism” we might benefit from that. Morocco has a problem of what is suspected to be “terrorist” bomb attacks at times. Many people in the Arab countries are sympathetic to the Al-Qaeda course and the Saddam Hussein question.
As we know by now some Europeans and Americans are sensitive to stories about terrorists and this could be to our benefit.
Population: Approximately 8 million
Libya has never won the African Confederation Championship Cup. Through oil supplies to other countries it will be easy for them to raise funds to build the stadiums for World Cup events. But Libyan soccer teams and fans are not that much committed in terms of support and passion.
As they were colonised by Italy , and Libya ‘s leader Colonel Muammar “Brother Leader” Gaddafi has shares in Juventus, this might stand them in good stead but counting on that will not be sufficient.
The outspoken Colonel is never far from controversy. The British and the Americans have not forgotten the Lockerbie bomb in the ’80s that was planted in a plane heading to America from London .
The plane crashed near Scotland , not far from Stockport and killed more than 200 passengers aboard. In retaliation the US and several other first world countries imposed punitive economic sanctions on Libya . Through Madiba’s intervention, Brother Leader handed the suspects over to the international court in the Netherlands for questioning. Though they have been tried and sentenced, the sanctions against Libya are still continuing.
Population: Approximately 115 million
I don’t think that Africa ‘s most populous country is ready. Recently the Super Eagles were beaten 3-0 by Brazil , the current World Cup Champions.
The Miss World contest that was to be held in Lagos was a dismal failure. Due to differences of opinions among the country’s citizens, the beautifully legged ladies had to flee to London , leaving behind at least 200 innocent people dead in clashes between the locals.
One daily newspaper wrote a story that was regarded as blasphemy by another section of the community. This sparked riots that led to the torching of property and loss of life.
This was a regrettable reminder of what could happen in this beautiful continent at times if human lives and interests are not respected.
After winning the Afcon Cup in 1994, Nigeria was expelled from taking part in the Tournament that was played in SA in 1996. Most unfortunately, the government used the team in a political sparring match with SA and the Commonwealth and the Super Eagles were disqualified for refusing to come and play in SA.
Under the leadership of Sonny Abacha at the time, 9 Ogoni activists including writer Ken Saro Wiwa were executed in 1995. Blaming SA for encouraging the Commonwealth to take a tougher stand on the execution of activists, Nigeria made unconvincing excuses as to why they could not come to SA for AFCON ’96 and they were suspended for two years.
As a sign of admission that they will not be able to face this daunting challenge on their own, they proposed to co-host with Ghana and Cameroon . FIFA allowed South Korea and Japan to try the exercise but they are not prepared to let the co-hosting practice become a habit.
Population: Approximately 61 million
Though the Egyptians are a bit silent in their campaigns, they must not be taken lightly. As the bid books will be handed over to FIFA in October they might still spring a surprise. However, we are slightly ahead of the Pharoahs in terms of infrastructure. Egypt has made 17 appearances in the African Cup of Nations (Afcon), and won the Afcon Cup four times: In 1957, 1959, 1986 and 1998.
Population: Approximately 44 million
The international friendly games both at a national and club level are an indication that the country is not leaving anything to chance. At national team level, Bafana Bafana have played against Jamaica , England and Trinidad and Tobago . The England one was the main draw card internationally.
South Africa made history by becoming the first African country to host a European national team in 100 years. The interesting part is our boys played against the great grand children of our former colonial masters on African soil and the trick paid dividends: The game was televised to an audience of about 100 million around the world.
The impressed England coach, Sven-Goran Eriksson had this to say, “I guess South Africa has what it takes and if it’s Africa , then SA is a favourite”.
But the English’s second beating of Bafana Bafana is a wake up call. Something drastic must be done to improve our boys against European opponents. When they came, they conquered and they left. As they say: “history repeats itself”.
We have shown the world that we can hold football matches of the highest quality, but can we build the type of team that will win the World Cup for Africa ? With the sporadic incidents of interference in the coach’s selection process by SAFA, the players not taking chances and the sad reality that not all of the overseas-based players are proud of wearing the national jersey, it will take time to realise this African dream.
Rest in peace, the son of the African soil
The passing away of Lesley Phuthi “Slow Poison” Manyathela is a tragic loss to the Manyathela family, Orlando Pirates and the South African nation. As it is, the “Gauteng of African football players”, Slow Poison was about to be the next African soccer player to get his dreams of playing in Europe fulfilled.
This loving, humble and hard working, gifted striker was going home when the world’s enemy number one, death, robbed us of a chance to watch him grow up to be an imposing Philemon Masinga of our times.
To the Manyathela family the National Union of Metalworkers of SA says: tshidisehang, duduzekani, tiyiselani, kondelelani, ons innige meegevoel. God had borrowed and God has taken. He will continue to score great goals even in heaven.