The Festival of Ginger Dance-steps and Weird Hairdos, better known as AFCON2013, has been on for more than a week and being an African with a fanatical love for football, I think it is only normal I devote this post to CAF’s pre-eminent football completion. This post should have come up last week, but due to dearth of information on the teams cum players, it couldn’t, and after 9 days of football, I have to confess there is as much to write about as describing the features of a unicellular organism.
Luckily, I was able to watch 7 out of the 16 matches played so far and damn right I was lucky, ask those who watched all the matches what their action would be if they were given access to a time-machine, I bet the answer would be a resounding AYE to availing themselves of the opportunity to travel back in time to February 18th. Here are a few snippets as to why: out of the 16 matches played so far, 8 of them were draws (3 were scoreless draws); only 26 Goals have been scored (4 matches account for 14 of those); thousands of sleep-inducing minutes of football have been spent, and a bazillion officiating errors have been recorded. To look on the bright side, a dozen new dance-steps have been demonstrated, and a million hairstyles have been showcased.
Ordinarily, we are all guilty of pessimism when it comes to the land of Africa, anything African, and we Africans, but I have to concede that the pessimism is well-founded this time around. I was one of the few who stuck my neck out for AFCON2013 to be a veritable testament to how far African football has come, but I have to apologise, I was wrong. This logical optimism was based on two major factors: the large contingent of African footballers plying their trade in Europe, and the other far recesses of the world where football development has penetrated; and the huge number of footballers who had taken advantage of new FIFA rules to switch nationality to African countries. But all these seem to count for nothing as the North Africans – Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria – who benefitted most from nationality switch are faring the worst in this tournament.
Officiating has been another sour-point of AFCON2013. There seem to be no consistency to the calls and there is obviously a lack of understanding between Referees and Assistants most of the time. Knotty calls like “active and passive offside” and “goalkeepers handling outside the 18-yard box” have continued to make fools out of match officials, and the players and coaches have started speaking of conspiracies. Nigeria’s Super Eagles, albeit not being a fantastic team, has been at the receiving end of this dodgy decisions, and those were painful to say the least.
Axiomatically, even if the cloud is as dark as Aristide Bance, there would still be a silver lining somewhere, or even golden lining like the hair on his head. The competition has only gone halfway, and it is just getting to the crucial stages where some teams have to remain in South Africa only for sight-seeing, which means the Grade C and D chaffs would have been separated from the Grade B and A chaffs, (if you have ever visited the pre-Fashola Yaba Railway Line and you pretend like you do not understand this, God is watching you in 3D), and things can only improve. Moreso, most of these players come from different teams in different leagues and the philosophies are different, so let us take this to be acclimatization period and hope the cohesion will start manifesting henceforth.
Let us keep the hope alive, things can only get better, and if they do not, the matches would only have reduced, and February 10th would have been closer, let us endure till then.
God Bless Us All!!
See You Next Time!!!
Facebook: Rasheed SirRash Adewusi