AFCON surprises & more.

The ongoing continental football jamboree in Côte d'Ivoire, could turn out to be one of the most interesting in the history of the competition. This is because of the surprises it is springing up.

For once, the competition has come to demystify old age traditions and myths, where big teams are respected and revered, while newcomers enter the game with some sort of inferiority complex.

So, we shouldn’t be surprised if Equatorial Guinea, Cape Verde, Namibia or Angola move forward from the group of 16, to quarter finals and even the finals. Any of them is capable of winning the trophy.

But since football is a game that experience counts a lot, especially as a tournament progresses, we should also not be surprised to see some old big names coming up again as they reignite their traditional rivalry at the group of 16 stage.

Here, the fight for supremacy between the Indomitable Lions and the Super Eagles rears up its ugly head again. We will not be surprised if any of these old foxes reinvents itself and moves up to play the finals. And at that level, anything can happen.

Surely, both Nigeria and Cameroon want to improve their standing on the honours roll of African nations that have won the trophy the highest number of times. 

Indeed, they are jealous of the record set by Egypt for winning the trophy seven times, with both Cameroon and Nigeria still trailing behind.

As defending champions and considering the excellent form in which they are, the Teranga Lions of Senegal are certainly a team to watch. 

But in a confrontation at the group of 16 with host nation, it could mean Senegal has a hard nut to crack.

More so, as the Elephants of Côte d'Ivoire would not want a repeat in front of their home crowd the nemesis that caught up with them during the group stage matches. 

Equatorial Guinea players celebrating goal during 4-0 vin over host, Cote D'Ivoire

So, the triumph of any team from that pairing could see the winner becoming a reliable contender for the trophy.

Both Morocco and Mali need to burry their traditional bride and know that South Africa and Burkina Faso are there for serious business. Mali looks good on paper, but so too is Burkina Faso, whose emergence has so far remained consistent and steady.

Morocco and Egypt are the only North African teams that have succeeded to cross over into the group of 16. 

They would surely want to protect the pride and consolidate the gains of a region that has dominated African football for so long. 

So, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa have an uphill task as they respectively face Egypt and Morocco.

Blue Sharks of Cape Verde celebrating goal vs Ghana

Life lessons from football

There is a singular reason why competition in life is so different from what obtains in football. In the former, there are no referees who know the rules, and watch over all the players to make sure they play according to the rules. 

The referee inflicts sanctions and or penalties when rules are violated. A job that is being “perfected” with the introduction of Video Assisted Referee, VAR. 

But in real life, traditional witch-hunting, backstabbing, exploitation, theft and so on have merely transformed into modern forms.

More so, football is simply a game in which referees and other match officials try to caution competing teams and spectators against exhibiting acts of fanatism in the face of losses or wins. 

But in life, evil in all its forms remain a mystery as the innocent keep suffering unjustly; left at the mercy of an all-knowing God. In both, petty mischiefs do spoil the game as they allowed to gain grounds. 

The Black stars of Ghana fails to move out of Group stage for second successive AFCON 

In football, we can mention match fixing, when money changes hands between referees, (match officials) and officials of teams that are desperate to win.

Just like in real life, some people enjoy unfair advantage because of official positions they occupy. Many have misused money and other resources meant for the whole population, by trying to hoard them for themselves and families alone. 

Whereas it is the prudent use of our common resources that makes a difference between developed and under-developed nations, affluent versus poverty-stricken populations and so on.

So, as African nations compete in the ongoing AFCON, they should not forget that the real competition; the one that brings honour and respect to their citizens and the entire continent, lies in lifting their populations out of poverty and providing basic infrastructure, reliable services and other good things of life to Africans as other continents are doing.

We cannot keep on envying developed nations because they did not perform any miracle to get to where they are. What they did, we too can.



Column: Issues of the Moment by Cyprain Ntiamba Obi Ntui


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