RUSSIA 2018: In Search of a Worthy African Representative
From Abidjan in West Africa to Cairo in North Africa and other Parts of Africa, the search for a worthy African representative at Russia 2018 World Cup and a better outing for the continent in that competition, is mutual.
Unarguably, football serves as a unifying factor in Africa each time the flag of any country in the continent is hoisted by its five representatives at the world cup.
Unlike age grade competitions where Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and other African teams tend to show unique presence by either winning or advancing to medal winning positions, many fans praying for African teams at the World Cup, agonize during matches involving such teams at football’s biggest stage.
Agony of defeat is difficult to sustain in a fiesta that draws global figures in the game.
In Russia 2018 for instance, Egypt, plagued by injuries to its mercurial talisman, Mo Sallah, lost narrowly to Uruguay in their first group game. In their next match against host country Russia, many fans expected Egypt to fare better, particularly with the return of a fit – again Sallah. Unfortunately, they lost to a much improved Russian side and got eliminated after two matches.
Also, Morocco who pipped Elephants of Ivory Coast to the ticket in African Qualifiers, met brick walls in Russia, where they lost to Iran and Portugal, respectively.
Similarly, Nigeria’s hopes of advancing to the next round hangs on a thread, if the Super Eagles‘ lethargy in the final third rear its ugly head in their match against Iceland. Anything short of maximum points would see Africa’s ‘fashionista’ world cup team bow out of Russia with a game to spare. That final game against Argentina would then be a formality.
In the same vein, Tunisia, Africa’s best ranked team, lost steam against Gareth Southgate’s England as the Three Lions piped them 2-1. It is indeed a big mountain for the Carthage Eagles who would square up in their next matches against Roberto Martinez’s rampaging Belgium and debutants, Panama, respectively.
Thankfully, it is not completely negative for Africa. Senegal, whose coach, Aliou Cisse, adorned the Terranga Lions’ jersey sixteen years ago in that country’s opening game’s victory at the 2002 World Cup over a more illustrious France, got inspired by that feat to guide his team to another opening day victory over Poland, another European country.
With physical alertness, composure and eyes for goal, Terranga Lions would once again become the toast of Africa if they match towards eclipsing Africa’s three showings at the Quarter-Finals. If the Sadio Mane – inspired Senagalese team keeps its composure, it might once again rescue Africa as a worthy representative in Russia.
By Ugo Solugo
Post Graduate Student, Department of Mass Communication,
Cross River University of Technology