Monday, 1 February 2010

2010 Africa Cup of Nations - Are we ready for the World Cup?

With the tournament coming to a close last night with the Egyptians winning the trophy a third time in as many times crowning a sterling performance from much of the homegrown talent.
Having been threatened by the initial attacks on the Togolese team (which has since been banned from CAF tournaments, absurd if you ask me...), the tournament had a hot-cold feel to it which meant there were spectacular moments but also the usual drawl that such tournaments have. These are our take-outs worth noting;

1. Security - this has becoming of paramount importance since the 1972 Olympics when Israel lost some of its members to a fundamentalist group. This should have been avoided at the start if the Angolan authorities had not overlooked the fact of Cabinda being a potential trouble-spot. Future tournament organisers will also need to notify the countries available means of entry into their countries to avoid such travesties as endured by the Togolese team.

2. Sponsors - for once most the companies who sponsored the tournament made an effort to localise even their communication using largely African players and people too. This is a boon to the fledging industries in sports, advertising and marketing which couple together to make it possible to enjoy the tournaments.
A mention too for the SuperSport sportscasters for adding the African flair to their wardrobe. Though some people looked awkward in the flowing designs, it was refreshing to see the change from the more formal polo shirts to the truly African wear.

3. Timing - not seemingly supporting the European team managers, the tournament needs to have a longer period between one and the next tournament. Though CAF's Issa Hayatou , thinks otherwise, the level of competition would be heightened if there is a wider period and also allow for the players to give their best as compared to what they currently have to endure. Some of the main contenders had to contend with 4-6 players of the first team injured.
Again the pressures on the host country have all been there to see, like Burkina Faso in 1998 and Mali in 2002. Though FIFA has made the changes into an odd year,so as to see the possibility of not clashing with the European and World Cups, the work is cut out for the CAF officials.

4. Trophy Design - Now that Egypt has won the trophy 3 consecutive times, does the old tradition of keeping the trophy stand? If it does, it's about time CAF developed a more representative and iconic trophy. The current World Cup is a good starting point.

Stadium Management - It was clear that most of the stadia were being used for the first time and the toll on some of them made it hard to train and play at the same time. Taking us back to the 3rd point, the organisers ought to give the host country ample time to develop the stadia and also test them with local or international fixtures. That way no excuses of not training at the same grounds will be heard like what we had in the Angolan tournament.

Africa Cup of Nations cum World Cup qualifiers - judging from the performance of most countries that qualified for the World Cup, it shows the need to have it held every 3-4 years. Though 3 of the countries qualified for the semi-finals, the lacklustre performances in the group stages and the quarter & semi-finals depict a worrying picture. Unless the countries pick themselves up and play with serious passion and technical approach, I don't see anywhere more than 2 countries going into the second round of the World Cup.

7. Local vs international tacticians - Once again, we argue the case for local coaches taking the national teams. Look at Egypt, Algeria and Nigeria, though the latter two didn't win anything substantial, the use of local coaches showed why we need to do away with the notion that expatriates will make our game. What's even more interesting is the fact that much of the Egyptian team had players from their local league. I wonder how they lost the WC qualifiers again...
(Don't you just love it?)
I'm sure the South African LOC for the World Cup has been camping at the Angola cities taking notes. I don't foresee the two tournaments ever coming into such close proximity as it has this year. Thus South Africans, you've the work cut out for you !

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