Friday, May 26, 2006

They can play but...

I've just finished a one month internship at the left-leaning New Statesman magazine. For this week's cover story, I helped out with part of the premise of the article and some research for David Runciman who wrote the piece.

Bursting with talent and eternally tipped as the coming force, African countries won't win this World Cup, or the next one, writes David Runciman. The reason? For all the money splashing around, nothing is changing at the grass roots... read more.


Anonymous said...

i agree whole heartedly with all the points raised in the article: African football is corrupt, the grass roots are being uprooted before anything viable can be replenished and its a miracle that very talented players continue to blossom in the deepest darkest crevices of the continesnt.
However on principle i refuse to agree for a fundamental yet illogical reason - its football.
Granted in football you need organisation to prosper (south korean team 2002) granted in football you need skill to triumph (brazil brazil brazil...each and every single world cup till date and till thy kingdom come) granted you need luck (Germany Euro 2000). But then again you have to admit that in international terms, more often than not, the difference between two evenly balanced teams often comes down to whether or not rio ferdinand is back on the crack - and confidence.
i recon the gap between the top teams at international level has shrunk to minute proportions and only God knows what our team (super eagles) in 1994 would have done if eguavohen had stayed on his feet on the 89th minute (i really believe we could have won it - didnt we outplay the beaten finalists even after they tactically but savagely nulified both our most potent offensive weapons?). football i think is 40% skill 20% organisation and 40% heart/confidence.
The reason why Brazil will probably win this world cup is because all the other teams have been watching too many nike advets...hey Joga Bonito!!!. the reason why Brazil will probably not win this world cup is because all the other teams have been watching the Nike adverts and will make sure Ronaldinhio looses a pint of blood before he's given half a chance to joga bonito. it all depends on your approach to a team which you know on a good day should give you a good hiding.
So back to the original blog - I recon an African team can win it just because when it comes down to it; we really are all half decent and its ultimately 11 against 11. I fancy the ivorians (shame about their group though) but then again - hasnt every african team that's shown up there organised and without an inferiority complex more than managed to punch aboove its weight? Cameroon 90, Nigeria 94, Senegal 2002...we're getting there, no doubt.
Give us time. let them come to our yard.

A disillusioned Naija girl said...

Oh gawd - an essay on footie!!

Nkem said...

DNG, you better believe it! In fact, when we had the editorial meeting, someone had the audacity to say that we were attaching too much importance to football. And that 'it's just football' so no need to pretend it's anything else. But what do they know, as the late Liverpool manager, Bill Shankly, once said, "Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I'm very disappointed with that attitude.
I can assure you it is much, much more important than that."

Delot, the difference between the top teams are little, but that doesn't apply to African teams. Nigeria and Cameroun have very good players, but neither are even in the World Cup - they couldn't get past their own continent. How do they intend to take on the world? At international level, organisation is paramount. I'm sure the first time, Pfister met any of his players was when all got on the plane to head for Germany. If Nigeria can get its act together, then 2010 is there for the taking. I saw them in Egypt, and there are some players waiting to burst onto the world stage.

Feyikogbon said...

I agree that it is unlikely that an African nation wins either of the next two world cups however my reasoning for this is slightly at variance to yours. Being a great fan of conspiracy theories, I would postulate that it’s about the economic powers (Companies not Countries) trying to focus the ultimate football crown in Countries that they can market and/or sell services in.

In 2002, against all odds South Korea got to the semi-finals in order to retain the interest of the home nation, and enable the sponsors to sell more drinks, burgers and advertising space. Senegal however proved that even African first timers can get to the quarter finals.

How would Budweiser or MasterCard (two of the official sponsors of the 2006 World Cup) ever be interested in sponsoring the next event in South Africa if they had to be involved in Crowning Togo 2006 Champions? I doubt that 80% of Americans even know where Togo is.

That the USA is ranked within the top five footballing nations on earth is an embarrassment to FIFA and the ranking system. But as you say on the back of the poor grouping system they have been able to repeatedly be at the world cup finals whereas, Africa has to do with only 5 places at the finals (though we have come a long way, we used to only have 2!).

Anonymous said...

Nkem, I feel you on the organisation tip, the most cohesive group of players (and probably the best squad) we’ve ever put out were the Westerhoof and Bonferee years and that was down to their technical know how and the mere fact that they had enough time to groom those lads. Based on pure talent I think if an African nation is going to win the world cup it should be Nigeria; but as we always seem to be lacking technically or just seem to implode once the tournament kicks off then sadly I don’t see us ever winning the damn thing. I guess that’s where the organisation comes in. The ogas at the top are too concerned with bringing their baby’s nanny’s cousins as opposed to hiring an experienced coach who can point out that Kanu should be sent to the knackers, Okocha should have retired after 2002 and Ikedia should join the circus. Cameroon didn’t get to the world cuup because they finished 2nd to a stronger Ivorian team, Nigeria didn’t qualify cos we’re Muppets.
Feyikogbon, I hear what you’re saying with regards to commercialisation influencing the game, but I don’t think it’s that cynical. What I think happens is that the multinational companies actually put pressure on things like team selection (but then again only for countries who are economically insecure enough to be influenced by external involvement) e.g. Nike insisting that Ronaldo played in the 98 final when he was clearly not fit. I think they know that football support transcends nationality which is why they “promote” certain marketable teams and players, actually just stopping short of branding them. It’s brilliant the way they’ve created the Brazilian brand for example. It’s a weird set of circumstances where no one actually minds if the outright favourites win. Genius marketing. You only need to watch the adverts on telly to know who Nike would be backing to win the world cup.
I don’t think the FIFA rankings are flawed with any cynical commercial undertone – I think they’re just flawed period. USA is 5th but then Mexico is 4th. Go to the FIFA website and you’d be very surprised at who’s where. Nigeria is 11th above; Italy Sweden and Germany – I don’t fancy our chances against those 3 teams at all. I know it all comes from performances, but its clear the ranking system doesn’t properly consider the importance of games and the lowliness of some of the opposition. But I must say that eve though everyone knocks the American team, they are very very decent. Just look at their previous world cup performances – they aint as bad as everyone thinks.

Anonymous said...

We already won the world cup didn't you hear? Where do you think Viera, Makalele, Zidane an Desailly are from? Yes Man, pat yourself on the back: AFRICA.

fifa2006 said...

I’m very exciting for today, If Rooney is fully recovered, of course he should play in the group stages.what do you think? How about tomorrow?
Anyway,Thank you for your site about world cup site and By the way,I’d like to exchange message with you,and nice weekend

Nickname of team
Angola: Palancas Negras (Black Antelopes)
Argentina: Albicelestes (White-Sky Blues)
Australia: Socceroos
Brazil: Seleçao Canarinho (Canary Selection)
Costa Rica: Ticos (from the local linguistic habit of creating diminutives by adding “tico” instead of “tito” to the end of words)
Croatia: Vatreni (the Fiery Ones)
Czech Republic: Lokomotiva (the Locomotive, rarely used)
Ecuador: La Tri (Tricolors)
England: Three Lions (rarely used)
France: Les Bleus (Blues)
Germany: Die Nationalmannschaft (National Team)
Ghana: Blacks Stars
Iran: Team Melli (National Team)
Italy: Azzurri (Blues)
Ivory Coast: Les Eléphants (Elephants)
Japan: Blues
Mexico: El Tri (Tricolors)
Netherlands: Oranje (the Orange)
Paraguay: La Albirroja (White-Red)
Poland: Bialo-Czerwoni (White-Reds)
Portugal: Seleçao das Quinas (Selection of the Shields)
Saudi Arabia: Al Akhdar (the Green)
Serbia and Montenegro: Plavi (Blues)
South Korea: Reds
Spain: La Furia Roja (the Red Fury)
Sweden: Blagult (Blue-Gold)
Switzerland: Die Eidgenossen (the Oath Comrades)
Togo: Les Eperviers (Sparrow Hawks)
Trinidad and Tobago: Soca Warriors
Tunisia: Les Aigles de Carthage (Carthage Eagles)
Ukraine: Zbirna/Sbornaya (Selection, in Ukrainian and Russian)
United States: None, really, but we’ve been using Yanks and Amerks.
Dr Han (Super football fans)