Editorial - African Football between 2000 and 2001

African Football between 2000 and 2001 -
Editorial comment


It will be a hot half year for the African national teams as alternating African Nations Cup qualifiers and World Cup Cup qualifiers will determine the field for Mali 2002 and the five African starters for the World Cup 2002 at Japan/Korea. It is beginning with the African Nation Cup qualifiers on the weekend Jan 12-14.

There has not been much solution to African problems in the past year and there has not been offered much help by the world either. This reflected in African football although there was the triumph of Cameroon at the Olympic football tournament. It came in a year of crowd trouble, match postponements because of unrests, and 'normal' problems in football administrations. And it was the year the World Cup 2006, that already seemed touchable, was taken away the last moment for a more profitable and reliable venue.
Nigeria, only 4 years ago looking like a rising Brazil of Africa, have self-distroyed their brilliant perspective. As Morocco's 98 dream team architecture has fallen apart. And Côte d'Ivoire's promising way to boost their huge talent with enterprising infrastructure has been buried under political turnovers and conflicts. Even Cameroon have raised a question mark eventually by a decision to switch coaching responsibilities after a year that could not have been more successful.

The Shot cannot make comments on particular decisions but I can make a structural remark: Running a national team takes a lot of continuity and administrative work away from the question which player should play on the left wing. If a national team coach sees his European based professional players an average of 10 weeks a year he will be be more than happy. So firing one coach every year, means compared to the time stretch of clubs, firing 5 coaches a (club-) year. Nobody can expect that something grows and develops under such circumstances. It is not much more but a lottery then. 
Too much seems to be made out of single results. France worked full 4 years to build the team of 1998 and it has payed off because after such a time everybody knows his general part in a structure and now they build up on that. Even Nigerias successes came after a team had been built quite consequently over years (Westerhof 90-94, his assistant Bonfrere 95-96). Today Bonfrere has returned, but is in the middle of an intrigous power struggle. Even the World Cup qualification for Nigeria has become a 50:50 affair.

But there are positive signals as well. Cameroons return to the top class of African football promises to be more than a one night stand. And it is a very special opportunity for Hearts Of Oak Accra to crown their great development at the World Club championships at Spain right in the focus of an European press and eyes, those eyes who hardly notice the existence of African club football, especially sub-saharan. This does not mean winning the title but winning respect and attention..
Those World Club Championships come a bit as a rescue, as a little perspective in the moment when African football aside the spotlight of singular World Cups and the fortune of individual players on other continents seems to face another long period in relative shadow after the World Cup 2006 fata morgana, that if real, could have ignited so much, has disappeared again.


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