Africa’s fortunes at the World Cup in Brazil have been mixed. In many cases I have been extremely frustrated and once in a while there has been room for pride.
Cameroon have been the African shame at the world stage, failing to win a single point despite the egoistic nature of the players. Once again their preparation was dogged by demands for allowances and clearly money took centre stage instead of football. Ivory Coast were unfortunate not to progress to the next round but they should not blame poor refereeing. Yes the referee crushed African spirits by awarding Greece a very soft penalty at the death but the West Africans had numerous chances to kill the game before that. Ivory Coast realised far too late that they needed to fight to advance. Greece should not have troubled them at all but they did. Ivory Coast should blame their missed chances for their failure to progress. Everyone knows that any close challenge in the box may result in a penalty so the West African defence should not have panicked in the dying minutes of that game.
I also believe they could have drawn with Colombia but they tended to give them too much respect. Ivory Coast have some of the best players in the world but when they play for their nation they tend to look average. Nigeria impressed me by qualifying for the next round but it was touch and go for a minute there. Nigeria were fortunate to get a victory over Bosnia as television replays showed the Bosnians were denied a clear goal in that game. So as we blame refereeing for Ivory Coast’s exit, we credit the same refereeing for Nigeria’s progression. Bosnia should have been the team going through not Nigeria while Ivory Coast should have been going through instead of Greece, but hey that’s football!
The African champions seemed to take their first two games for granted and only stepped up to the plate in their loss against Argentina. I just hope that they can maintain that form against France in the round of 16. I think it is possible for Nigeria to go forward but it won’t be easy. France’s failure to kill off 10 man Ecuador showed that they can be beaten. Vincent Enyeama in the Super Eagles goal can stop the Benzemas and Girouds from scoring. I’m writing this before Ghana and Algeria play their final matches and while I won’t predict who will go through, I just hope Ghanaian players focus on the game and not on the US$3 million that’s being flown from the Ghana government for the players so that they stop whining about appearance fees. Incidentally the money being flown out to them is an advance; money that Fifa is supposed to send to national federations after the tournament, but because players don’t trust their federation, they demanded it now and the government obliged. In Africa we have such a unique way of doing things, don’t we?
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