No doubt they are Africa’s undisputed soccer kings. If any one had told me before the competition that Egypt would win again, I’d have doubted it, but I wouldn’t have bet against it as well.
Although Egypt did not make it to the World Cup, they once again confirmed their superiority on the African scene by thrashing all who dared oppose their might in the latest African Cup of Nations. They set the record high, taking the cup home for the third consecutive time.
Perhaps one might say adequate preparation made their attack razor sharp. The Pharaohs of Egypt exposed the shabby preparation of a number of Africa’s so called soccer giants by taking the likes of Nigeria, Cameroon and Algeria to the cleaners. To those who didn’t watch any of the matches, one might think there might be an element of chance for their win. But the wide margins show otherwise. In fact it was by chance the Pharaohs did not put in more goals in their match against Cameroon. Such is the luck of time.
The standard displayed by Africa’s representatives to the World Cup Finals has left many with doubt over the possibilities of an African team winning the World Cup. Nigeria, one of the countries which many would watch with keen eyes, paraded her worst team ever in 20 years. In fact, not one of the team members of the Super Eagles would have been able to replace his counterpart in Nigeria’s USA’94 World Cup squad.
In the past the indomitable Lions of Cameroon were known to score a loan goal and hold on to it till the end. We didn’t see any of that in this Cup of Nations. With the exclusion of Samuel Eto (whom the coach still cannot figure out his exact role in the team), the Cameroonian team was a far cry from the team which brought the Argentines to their knees in the Italia’90 World Cup. It would be good to recall that Argentina’s best player ever Diego Maradona captained this squad, which later went ahead to play Germany in the finals.
Cote d’Ivoire, another of Africa’s representative to the world cup parading her star studded team with the likes of Drogba, for some reason could not find their rhythm. One thing glaring from this championship was the size of players on the pitch. Going decades back when African countries stunned the world with their best teams in order of rating, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon at Italia’90, the Super Eagles of Nigeria at USA’94 and the Lions of Senegal at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan, not only did these teams had speed and skill but they had the size to go with it. This made them more intimidating. I’m not saying you have to be big all the time, but almost all players on the world cup stage can juggle the ball. They all have skill. You need something extra. This is war. Either you have the extra skill like Maradonna, Pele, Abedi or Okocha, or you have the size to command respect on the field like the regular German teams do. Hence in the past, huge strikers like Nigeria’s Rashidi Yekini scared all opposing defenders while goalies such as Thomas Nkono of Cameroon made attackers rethink before entering the eighteen yard box. Nkono definitely looked good and alert on the pitch as attackers shot from afar. Today’s African teams portray a different story. Who does Nigeria’s Yakubu Aiyegbeni want to intimidate on the pitch? He can’t even see above the shortest defender of the opposing team.
Truly, we need to thank the heavens for exposing our weaknesses ahead of time. There is still time to play catch up. Nigeria, Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire need to realize that they are carrying Africa on their shoulders at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. We don’t need a draw, we need to smash every team that stands in our way so it would be an all African final.