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Engage with Africa on a long-term basis – Ecobank Group CEO Albert Essien tells investors
February 26, 2015 | 0 Comments

Ecobank chief gives keynote at 4th Conference on Managing Risk in Africa

Ecobank Group CEO Albert Essien

Ecobank Group CEO Albert Essien

Ecobank Group CEO Albert Essien  gave the keynote address in Munich today at the 4th Conference on Managing Risk in Africa. Mr Essien offered strategies for managing risk in Africa’s growth markets. Against the backdrop of what he outlined as a generally positive outlook for Africa, he advised investors against viewing Africa as one, but rather 54 countries with different growth prospects, different infrastructure, trade agreements, tax regulations, culture and levels of technological development.

Mr Essien urged investors to be prepared to engage with African countries on a long-term basis and avoid abrupt changes in investment focus because of perceived instability in certain markets. He encouraged managing risks associated with doing business in Africa, including fiscal and monetary policy issues such as foreign exchange restrictions, transparency and compliance, political instability and corruption and resource and infrastructure challenges.

The Ecobank Group CEO offered executives overseeing market entry strategy in Africa six key considerations that they would have to contend with. These, he said, were: understanding the local business culture; assessing which markets represent the best balance of risk and reward; finding and vetting appropriate local partners; understanding local market regulations; local environmental factors; and levels of technological development.

Mr Essien highlighted several market entry risks, which he enumerated as: political risk, reputational risk, operational risk and physical risk to staff and assets. He encouraged scenario planning as a good way to anticipate what future trends might emerge and what their impact and probability might be. “Whatever risks are identified, they are best viewed holistically rather than in isolation. New market entrants will need to develop a clear risk appetite and weigh the opportunity against the cost of risk mitigation, which can be expensive,” Mr Essien said.

The Ecobank boss advised setting up a risk review board with participation from senior management, and said this would help ensure the right level and scope of ongoing risk monitoring.

Incorporated in Lome , Togo, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (‘ET ‘)  is the parent company of the leading independent pan-African banking group, Ecobank. It currently has a presence in 36 African countries, namely: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Democratic Republic), Co te d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Group employs over 20,000 people in 40 different countries in over 1,200 branches and offices. Ecobank is a full-service bank providing wholesale, retail, investment and transaction banking services and products to governments, financial institutions, multinationals, international organizations, medium, small and micro businesses and individuals.

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Napping Again? Where is African Leadership in Fighting Ebola?
October 20, 2014 | 1 Comments

 

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon poses for a group photo with leaders attending the African Union Summit, which marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon poses for a group photo with leaders attending the African Union Summit, which marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

As the Ebola virus that is currently  concentrated in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone rages on, Africa seems to have been caught napping again leaving the response to the international community which is still to strike the right cords in a coherent strategy for the fight.

Complains have been flying right and left about paucity of funds, conspiracy theories making the rounds, and the unjustified stigma flying beyond the confines of the continent. An African resident based in Europe and not even a native of one of the affected countries was recently subjected to a grueling experience at an airport in a South American country where she had traveled to for work. In the U.S, there is debate going on whether or not flights from West Africa should be banned.

For sure with a virus like Ebola, precautions are worth taking and no one should fault non-African countries for taking precautions. The response of Africa itself has not helped matters at all and tales of Africans stigmatizing Africans are making their way into the international press.

Sierra Leone's John Kamara is grounded by his Greek club. The stigma from Ebola is on the rise affecting Africans who do hail from countries currently battling the virus

Sierra Leone’s John Kamara is grounded by his Greek club. The stigma from Ebola is on the rise affecting Africans who do hail from countries currently battling the virus

The NY Times recently ran a story of the anguish that layers from Sierra Leone were subjected to in the last month or so while participating in the qualifying games of the Nations cup. As uncontrollable as fans may be sometimes, taunting Sierra Leone players with chants of Ebola are simply disgusting. Having them live in secluded hotels, cut off from the public is already demoralizing enough. On his return from the qualifying games to his Greek Club PAS Lamia, of Sierra Leone’s John Kamara  was grounded from training for three weeks despite the fact that there were undergoing daily checkups while in Yaoundé Cameroon during the two leg game.

While Nigeria and Senegal may have gained credit for successfully taming the spread of the virus, the response of the continent as a united entity has fallen short. Where is the African Union? While Cuba is sending Doctors and the US and Britain sending troops, why have African countries not shown greater solidarity? Where are Nigeria and South Africa who are supposed to be leaders of the continent? The leadership fight should not only be about fighting for a fictional Security Council seat but showing the lead in marching the continent head on to confront crisis.

The Ebola crisis are a reminder for the continent to get its priorities straight. The gaping holes in health care services have been exposed in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The situation is not different in most other African countries where health care is not considered a priority. It is not just about resources, but getting the priorities straight. There are many African leaders who rush to Europe at the sign of any malaise, but why can there not invest in building adequate health care facilities?

When we compare amounts that have been embezzled from state resources, what is lost from mismanagement, one can only imagine the difference it could have made in using such sums to invest in infrastructure, education, and health care. Even the aid and loans received from the international community has often lined up the pockets of corrupt officials and not used for intended purposes.

Ivory Coast and global soccer Icon Didier Drogba  takes the Ice Bucket Challenge. Many African sports and entertainment stars took the challenge ,there could equally take the lead in making sure ebola does not define Africa

Ivory Coast and global soccer Icon Didier Drogba takes the Ice Bucket Challenge. Many African sports and entertainment stars took the challenge ,there could equally take the lead in making sure ebola does not define Africa

On the international scene one has heard about forums where the President of the AFDB has spoken forcefully on behalf of Africa. The AFDB has equally dedicated resources to the fight against Ebola. What is done by the AFDB should not make African countries shirk the need for expressing solidarity with the affected countries. The D.R.Congo has pledged help, and Ghana seems to be talking of help too. If Doctors can come all the way from Cuba why not from Nigeria , South Africa, Kenya, Uganda etc.? Instead of renegading on hosting the African Nations Cup next year as Morocco did , how about King Hussein’s country thinks of the support it could give to the affected countries to curb the spread of the virus?

And what about the global stars from Africa? All those UNICEF Ambassadors, children are been killed by in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Africa needs their advocacy now.When it came to the Ice bucket challenge, there were so eager to come along, nominating others to take the challenge. How about that same enthusiasm is transferred in helping raise not only awareness but resources needed by these affected countries? The continent needs the global appeals of Genevieve Nnanji, Samuel Eto’o, Didier Drogba, D’banj, P Square and all others who fly high the African flag on the global stage.

Back to government priorities in Africa, research is one area where funding is often not available. The brilliant minds are there, the intellect is in abundance, and there is the added advantage of knowing the continent. What about Traditional medicine, which has suffered from acute neglect over the years?

In the Ebola crisis comes the reminder that where ever there is a leadership vacuum in Africa, someone out of the continent will fill it up. It is not enough to murmur in silence why the USA sent the military to help Liberia in its response, the question should also be asked, what did African countries do? What did the African Union do to coordinate a response? What did the business moguls in the continent do when it came to rallying financial support or should we continue to think it has to be the Bill Gates and the Mark Zuckerbergs doing it? Africa has its own global brands in Dangote, Mo Ibrahim and others.

Dr. Gabriel Logan is one of two doctors at the Bomi county hospital, which serves a county of 85,000 people. In a desperate attempt to save Ebola patients, he started experimenting with an HIV drug to treat them. John W. Poole/NPR

Dr. Gabriel Logan is one of two doctors at the Bomi county hospital, which serves a county of 85,000 people. In a desperate attempt to save Ebola patients, he started experimenting with an HIV drug to treat them.
John W. Poole/NPR

It is not late for Africans to rally together and not remain indifferent to the plight of those in countries affected. There are many who still long for a United Africa as advocated by Nkrumah. Such unity means the continent bonds in good and bad times. No one should make the mistake to think it is something limited to the three West African countries, the virus may have broken out in any of the other countries.

Far from dividing Africa, the crisis should reinforce the need to come together, the need for all Africans to speak truth and call on leaders to get priorities straight, the need to challenge African countries to make the investments needed in health care, infrastructure, technology, research ,education and others. Without these investments, and without getting these priorities right, the continent will continue to remain way short of meeting its potential. Nigeria and Senegal have already gained credit by keeping the virus under check, the continent needs to aggressively rally behind Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea and send a message to the world that the continent can take care or at least take the lead in the quest for solutions to crisis of this magnitude. Africa should lead the world in the response to Ebola and not follow the world in response.

 

 

 

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Shekau, Nigeria, Cameroon, and the politics of Boko Haram
September 26, 2014 | 0 Comments

Biya of Cameroon and Jonathan of Nigeria Biya of Cameroon and Jonathan of Nigeria[/caption] So it is been reported with more certainty that Shekau or the guy who use to pass around for Shekau is now dead. All the bravado in those videos, standing behind armored tanks and using innocent girls in his background was all for nothing. No doubt the guy could barely read well. His absence will certainly not be missed .Any individual or cause which takes delight in ambushing innocent civilians, preaching hatred and kidnapping innocent girls is not worth the trouble at all. As news of Shekau or his double makes the rounds, the tussle for credit as to who killed him is subsiding. Was it the Nigerian Military or their Cameroonian counterparts? Although claims from the Cameroonian side have remained low, there was information from social media last weekend that the fellow passing around for Shekau was dead killed by Cameroon arm forces. The news was accompanied by pictures on a military face book page. However, the Nigerian side came up with a forceful arguments culminating in a formal announcement from the military top brass that indeed, the gentleman known for the taunting visitors met his waterloo at the hands of the Nigerian military as the sect tried to get into Konduga. “The troops captured some of the terrorists and their equipment.  In the course of those encounters, one Mohammed Bashir who has been acting or posing on videos as the deceased Abubakar Shekau, the eccentric character known as leader of the group died.    Since the name Shekau has become a brand name for the terrorists’ leader, the Nigerian military remains resolute to serve justice to anyone who assumes that designation or title as well as all terrorists that seek to violate the freedom and territory of Nigeria,” a statement from the Director Defense Information, Major General Chris Olukolade. The forces doing the fighting deserve a lot of credit irrespective of which party got him. It is hard to understand how things metamorphosed to this level, but there are so many unanswered questions about Boko Haram and its supersonic rise. How comes the sect has evolved to the point where it can threaten to go toe to toe with the Nigerian military? Nigeria is a country that has been laying claim to a security seat on behalf of Africa, it has flexed its muscles in peace keeping missions from Liberia to Sierra Leone and its military was supposed to be one of the best trained and equipped in the continent. If the giant of Africa is unable to protect its citizens from Boko Haram, how can the rest of Africa rely on it for their security? Who is training the Boko Haram folks, where are their funds coming from, how and from where are there able to obtain fire power superior to that of the Nigerian military in many instances? [caption id="attachment_12366" align="alignright" width="300"]Cameroon's Paul Biya and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fanius celebrate the liberation of the molin-Fournier family last April. The wife of Vice Prime Minister Amadou Ali was kidnapped in August and has not been returned. Cameroon’s Paul Biya and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fanius celebrate the liberation of the molin-Fournier family last April. The wife of Vice Prime Minister Amadou Ali was kidnapped in August and has not been returned.[/caption] In Cameroon, the situation in the Northern part of the country remains preoccupying. Hardly had the dust settled on the first armed incursions of the sect when President Paul Biya declared that Cameroon was at war with the sect. Cameroonians grew curious about Boko Haram when a French family vacationing in the Northern part of the country was kidnapped. The Molin-Fournier family was released after some two months in captivity and the Cameroon President received the family before their departure to France. Though the French President indicated that no ransom was paid to release the hostages, it turned out that huge sums were indeed paid to secure the release of the Molin Fournier family. How much was given to secure the release of this French family? How much was given to secure the subsequent release of other foreigners kidnapped? Who received the ransom, and was the money out of the Cameroon treasury or from the home countries of the kidnapped folks who have been released? What is the relation between Boko Haram in Nigeria and Boko Haram in Cameroon? Here again more unanswered questions. It was perplexing to see that instead of Jonathan doing the two hour or so flight to meet Biya in Yaoundé or Biya doing vice versa to Abuja, both leaders preferred to honor an invitation of the French President to discuss security challenges. It borders on the absurd that it will take an initiative of the French for Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad to meet and talk about common threats from Boko Haram? A few months back, the wife of Amadou Ali one of the most senior and influential members of the Biya government was kidnapped in an attack that killed several members of the ministers family. Ministers Ali’s wife is still a hostage of whatever group keeping her. Dr Stephen Davis a negotiator from Australia recently ruffled feathers in Nigeria by announcing the names of some sponsors of Boko Haram. Fingered in his revelation were former Chief of Army staff, General Azubuike Ihejirika and former Governor Modu Sherriff of Borno State. It may not have been news that people in leadership were backing Boko Haram but it was one of the few rare times that names have been called. After a largely unconvincing press conference to clear his name, to the chagrin of most Nigerians, former Governor Modu Sheriff was pictured with President Jonathan during a visit to Chad. The optics could not have been any worse, at a time when the press was rife with reports of the Nigerian military taken refuge on Cameroon to flee from attacks from the sect.   [caption id="attachment_12370" align="alignleft" width="300"]L–R: A former Borno State Governor, Ali Modu-Sheriff, President Goodluck Jonathan, and Chadian President, Idriss Deby, at a meeting in Chad. this was a few days after Sheriff was cited by the Australian negotiator Stephen Davis as a key sponsor of Boko Haram L–R: A former Borno State Governor, Ali Modu-Sheriff, President Goodluck Jonathan, and Chadian President, Idriss Deby, at a meeting in Chad. this was a few days after Sheriff was cited by the Australian negotiator Stephen Davis as a key sponsor of Boko Haram[/caption] In the midst of the chaos, the innocent Chibok girls are still missing and nothing is heard from the help that western powers promised Jonathan. With the recent victories of the Nigerian military, releasing the girls will not only bring relieve to aggrieved families, but will also boast that struggling credibility of the Jonathan administration. The biggest resource of every country should be its people and be it in Nigeria or in Cameroon, it is the people that are suffering most. It is unfathomable to understand that for all its wealth, the Nigerian military should be complaining of been ill equipped. This is one struggle which calls to test the leadership mantles of both countries. The struggle for Boko Haram needs no politics, it is not a Northern thing in Cameroon and succession politics should not mingle with it. It should not a North v South fight in Nigeria, or unscrupulous politicians using the sect to work on 2015 agendas of sorts. No one doubts the dent that Boko Haram has put on the continental and international aura of Nigeria, hopefully the recent victories give the military the momentum to actually take the fight to Boko Haram so it can become history. In both Nigeria and Cameroon, openness and transparency in sharing information will help. The people can read in between the lines too and  so far there have been too many missing links and unanswered questions in the whole Boko Haram fight. *Insights Africa is a Blog that seeks to de-complex the complexities of developments in Africa  ]]>

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Nations Cup: 2019, 2012 and shock 2023 hosts unveiled by Caf
September 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

_74351486_130983651Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Guinea were named as future hosts of the Africa Cup of Nations by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) on Saturday.

A vote of the executive committee, meeting in the Ethiopian capital, awarded Cameroon the 2019 finals and Ivory Coast will stage the 2021 edition.

In an unscheduled announcement Caf also decided to hand Guinea the right to host the 2023 finals.

Algeria and Zambia lost out in the bidding process.

The Democratic Republic of Congo had withdrawn from the race two months ago.

Cameroon, who will stage the tournament in 2019 previously staged the Nations Cup in 1972. Cameroon’s bid was centred around four venues in Bafoussam, Douala, Garoua and Yaounde.

Ivory Coast, awarded the 2021 edition, are also former hosts, having staged the Cup of Nations in 1984. The Ivorians plan to use five cities – Abidjan, Bouake, Korhogo, San Pedro and the capital Yamoussoukro.

The 2023 hosts were not expected to be named at the executive committee meeting.

A Caf spokesperson later told the BBC that, on the basis of Guinea’s presentation “and commitment”, the committee “decided to exercise its power to make an immediate decision.”

Guinea have never hosted the competition which was first staged 57 years ago in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. Guinea’s bid promised to use Conakry, Kankan, Labe and Nzerekore as venues. Ironically the country is currently banned from hosting any international football by Caf because of the Ebola virus outbreak.

The two nations who miss out are Zambia and Algeria.

Zambia’s bid-package for the tournament in five years’ time included matches played against a backdrop of the spectacular Victoria Falls.

They were awarded the 1988 tournament only to be replaced by Morocco because they lacked the required funds.

The Algerian bid had seemed among the strongest, but their cause would not have been helped by the death of Cameroonian striker Albert Ebosse after a match in the north African state.

Ebosse died last month having being struck by a piece of slate allegedly thrown by a supporter of the club he played for, former African champions JS Kabylie.

Each country made a 30-minute, eve-of-vote presentation and the executive committee also had a report on each candidate to help them decide.

A five-man inspection team led by senior executive committee member Amadou Diakite from Mali spent several days in each of the five countries this year.

Among the facilities under the Caf microscope were stadiums, training grounds, hotels, hospitals and media centres, plus road, rail and air links.

The Nations Cup has been spread around the continent recently with southern, central, western and northern countries among the previous five hosts.

Ethiopia were the last east African hosts in 1976 with cash-strapped Kenya withdrawing as 1996 hosts and South Africa taking over.

Kenya, Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali and Zimbabwe are reportedly interested in replacing strife-torn Libya as the 2017 hosts ahead of a September 30 deadline for bids.

The 2017 Cup of Nations hosts will be named next year.

*Source BBC

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Didier Drogba retires from international football
August 9, 2014 | 0 Comments

Chelsea striker made 104 appearances for Ivory Coast and captained side for eight years

 

 

Didier Drogba has retired from international football after winning 104 caps with the Ivory Coast and captaining the side for eight years. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Didier Drogba has retired from international football after winning 104 caps with the Ivory Coast and captaining the side for eight years. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Didier Drogba has announced his retirement from international football with the Ivory Coast.

The 36-year-old, who last month re-joined Chelsea following a two-season absence with spells in China and Turkey, made his 104th and final appearance for Les Elephants during the World Cup in Brazil.

“It is with much sadness that I have decided to retire from international football,” Drogba said.

“I am very proud to have been captain of this team for eight years and to have contributed to placing my country on the world stage of football, taking part in three World Cups and two African Cup of Nations finals.

“I cannot convey enough thanks to the fans for all the love and support during these years. All my goals, all my caps, all our victories are for you.

“I also owe much gratitude to my team-mates – the players with whom I have shared all these emotions and I wish you all much success for the future and a very warm welcome to the new manager (Herve Renard).”

*Source irishtimes
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Two sides to every story – why African players shouldn’t be blamed for pay disputes
July 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Peter Staunton*

images (2)It is a privilege to be selected to play for one’s nation at a World Cup, but there is a duty on behalf of football associations to ensure that all players are respected.

Three African teams – and especially their players – have been painted in very poor light at this World Cup over issues of appearance fees and bonuses. They are being made to carry undue flak.

“Money, money, money had been the refrain by the players, and it is a pity they allowed this to ruin our World Cup,” Ghana FA president Kwesi Nyantakyi was quoted as saying by the state-owned Daily Graphic last week.

Cameroon reportedly refused to travel to Brazil until their bonuses were increased. Ghana’s players allegedly threatened to strike instead of playing against Portugal until they had their $3 million collective bonus flown to Brazil and paid in cash; that money was initially promised but not delivered. Nigeria’s players then reportedly refused to train until their bonus money for qualifying to the last 16 the second round was paid.

More ammunition, then, was provided for those who wish to portray footballers as greedy and alienated. It is convenient to paint the players as the bad guys as that keeps the focus off the football associations themselves.

Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng was thrown out of the squad before it played Portugal and his interview with Bild in the aftermath was revealing.

“It was a nightmare from the first day to the end,” he said of his World Cup experience. “I never thought that anybody could organize a World Cup so badly – from the flights to the hotels – everything was so amateurish.

“The flight from Miami to Brazil was 12 hours and we were sat cramped in in economy. It was hard on our legs. It may sound a little strange to normal people, but for a professional sportsman it’s unreasonable. At the same time, the president was sat in business [class] with his wife and two children.”

And bonuses are not a uniquely African issue. There isn’t one team at the World Cup who went to Brazil without a guaranteed participation bonus. Germany’s players got their initial 50,000 euro-per-man bonus after defeating Algeria last night and will be taking home 300,000 euros each if they lift the trophy. Spain was on 720,000 euros per man for winning the World Cup.

FIFA guarantees payment to each country with rewards ranging from 25.5 million euros – for the winning side – downward to 5.8 million for a group stage exit plus an extra 1 million euro participation fee. The problem comes with the non-delivery of money by the football associations – or even the threat of that.

“These things are normally sorted out before the competition, you can’t keep telling the players the money will come,” Ghana coach James Kwesi Appiah told the press last week. The country’s president, John Drahami Mahama, was eventually forced to step in.

“What we have to do for future World Cups is to ensure that firstly there is an agreement between the players and their national associations for the payments of bonuses,” FIFA general-secretary Jerome Valcke said last week.

This isn’t the first time that African teams have been caught up in rows over bonuses. Nigeria’s 1998 World Cup campaign was derailed by a spat before it crashed out in the second round to Denmark. Togo’s one and only appearance at the finals was overshadowed by a bonus row. “In our FA everyone thinks about their own pockets,” Emmanuel Adebayor said to Radio Frequence1 in 2012.

Cameroon’s players pulled out of an international friendly against Algeria in 2011 following the staging of the LG Cup. No bonuses were paid to the players following the event and as such drastic action was taken through a strike. “What is the quota for players who work for this money that goes into the coffers of the Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot)? This is the question,” Samuel Eto’o asked Mboafootball in May.

What do players like Adebayor and Eto’o have to gain from another $10,000? They are rich beyond their wildest dreams. Not every international, however, for those nations earns like those two. Having a spokesperson with such sway can be beneficial to voiceless players who would otherwise be ignored. For a player in the Togolese or Cameroonian leagues, a bonus for taking part in the World Cup could be the best earning opportunity of their career and should be treated as such.

There is money within these associations, make no mistake. One colleague tells a story of going to a certain headquarters for the purpose of collecting money on behalf of a player and being confronted with dusty envelopes full of cash which had not yet been sent to players. Both Ghana and Nigeria’s football associations have been left high and dry by botched sponsorship deals in the past year – with Glo reneging on financial agreements. But that is no excuse – not when FIFA guarantees payment for every participating nation at the World Cup.

“FIFA does not pay before the players arrive for the competition, FIFA pays after,” Kwesi explained. “The government or the FA has to find money to pay and later get it back off FIFA. Once there is a delay in getting it from the government or FA it becomes a problem.”

Four Nigerian officials, including former federation president Sani Lulu Abdullahi, were arrested after the World Cup in 2010 in relation to a missing 5.8 million euro sum that was allegedly misappropriated. Abdullahi has since been cleared of the wrongdoing and recently wrote to president Goodluck Jonathan asking for a Presidential Task Force to investigate the missing money.

“It’s not about being paid reward for anything,” said Appiah. “It’s got to do with an appearance fee, which I think every country pays its players, not just Ghana. It’s a right.”

These players are representing their nation and their people. The least their FAs could do is look after them. There are two sides to every story. “Why did our federation not invest some of the considerable amount of money they had received from FIFA in letting us live this whole experience better?” Boateng asked. It is a question which deserves examination.

*Source Goal/Yahoo

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Two sides to every story – why African players shouldn't be blamed for pay disputes
July 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Peter Staunton*

images (2)It is a privilege to be selected to play for one’s nation at a World Cup, but there is a duty on behalf of football associations to ensure that all players are respected.

Three African teams – and especially their players – have been painted in very poor light at this World Cup over issues of appearance fees and bonuses. They are being made to carry undue flak.

“Money, money, money had been the refrain by the players, and it is a pity they allowed this to ruin our World Cup,” Ghana FA president Kwesi Nyantakyi was quoted as saying by the state-owned Daily Graphic last week.

Cameroon reportedly refused to travel to Brazil until their bonuses were increased. Ghana’s players allegedly threatened to strike instead of playing against Portugal until they had their $3 million collective bonus flown to Brazil and paid in cash; that money was initially promised but not delivered. Nigeria’s players then reportedly refused to train until their bonus money for qualifying to the last 16 the second round was paid.

More ammunition, then, was provided for those who wish to portray footballers as greedy and alienated. It is convenient to paint the players as the bad guys as that keeps the focus off the football associations themselves.

Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng was thrown out of the squad before it played Portugal and his interview with Bild in the aftermath was revealing.

“It was a nightmare from the first day to the end,” he said of his World Cup experience. “I never thought that anybody could organize a World Cup so badly – from the flights to the hotels – everything was so amateurish.

“The flight from Miami to Brazil was 12 hours and we were sat cramped in in economy. It was hard on our legs. It may sound a little strange to normal people, but for a professional sportsman it’s unreasonable. At the same time, the president was sat in business [class] with his wife and two children.”

And bonuses are not a uniquely African issue. There isn’t one team at the World Cup who went to Brazil without a guaranteed participation bonus. Germany’s players got their initial 50,000 euro-per-man bonus after defeating Algeria last night and will be taking home 300,000 euros each if they lift the trophy. Spain was on 720,000 euros per man for winning the World Cup.

FIFA guarantees payment to each country with rewards ranging from 25.5 million euros – for the winning side – downward to 5.8 million for a group stage exit plus an extra 1 million euro participation fee. The problem comes with the non-delivery of money by the football associations – or even the threat of that.

“These things are normally sorted out before the competition, you can’t keep telling the players the money will come,” Ghana coach James Kwesi Appiah told the press last week. The country’s president, John Drahami Mahama, was eventually forced to step in.

“What we have to do for future World Cups is to ensure that firstly there is an agreement between the players and their national associations for the payments of bonuses,” FIFA general-secretary Jerome Valcke said last week.

This isn’t the first time that African teams have been caught up in rows over bonuses. Nigeria’s 1998 World Cup campaign was derailed by a spat before it crashed out in the second round to Denmark. Togo’s one and only appearance at the finals was overshadowed by a bonus row. “In our FA everyone thinks about their own pockets,” Emmanuel Adebayor said to Radio Frequence1 in 2012.

Cameroon’s players pulled out of an international friendly against Algeria in 2011 following the staging of the LG Cup. No bonuses were paid to the players following the event and as such drastic action was taken through a strike. “What is the quota for players who work for this money that goes into the coffers of the Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot)? This is the question,” Samuel Eto’o asked Mboafootball in May.

What do players like Adebayor and Eto’o have to gain from another $10,000? They are rich beyond their wildest dreams. Not every international, however, for those nations earns like those two. Having a spokesperson with such sway can be beneficial to voiceless players who would otherwise be ignored. For a player in the Togolese or Cameroonian leagues, a bonus for taking part in the World Cup could be the best earning opportunity of their career and should be treated as such.

There is money within these associations, make no mistake. One colleague tells a story of going to a certain headquarters for the purpose of collecting money on behalf of a player and being confronted with dusty envelopes full of cash which had not yet been sent to players. Both Ghana and Nigeria’s football associations have been left high and dry by botched sponsorship deals in the past year – with Glo reneging on financial agreements. But that is no excuse – not when FIFA guarantees payment for every participating nation at the World Cup.

“FIFA does not pay before the players arrive for the competition, FIFA pays after,” Kwesi explained. “The government or the FA has to find money to pay and later get it back off FIFA. Once there is a delay in getting it from the government or FA it becomes a problem.”

Four Nigerian officials, including former federation president Sani Lulu Abdullahi, were arrested after the World Cup in 2010 in relation to a missing 5.8 million euro sum that was allegedly misappropriated. Abdullahi has since been cleared of the wrongdoing and recently wrote to president Goodluck Jonathan asking for a Presidential Task Force to investigate the missing money.

“It’s not about being paid reward for anything,” said Appiah. “It’s got to do with an appearance fee, which I think every country pays its players, not just Ghana. It’s a right.”

These players are representing their nation and their people. The least their FAs could do is look after them. There are two sides to every story. “Why did our federation not invest some of the considerable amount of money they had received from FIFA in letting us live this whole experience better?” Boateng asked. It is a question which deserves examination.

*Source Goal/Yahoo

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The triple burden of Africa’s FIFA World Cup
July 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

Takura Zhangazha*

 

While African football players have done very well for the European teams that hired them, the question during every FIFA tournament remains the same: when will an African team become the world champion?

 

Every time the FIFA World Cup tournament occurs, at least as far as I can recall, the question of ‘will it be Africa’s time to win it?’ recurs. Not necessarily

The Cameroon football team is nicknamed Les Lions Indomptables (The Indomitable Lions). Image: ESPN ad, 2010

The Cameroon football team is nicknamed Les Lions Indomptables (The Indomitable Lions). Image: ESPN ad, 2010

because expectations are ever high that an African team will lift the globally famous cup. But more because African football players have been performing wonders at the highest levels/leagues of the beautiful game in Europe. It therefore always baffles many an African mind why they cannot do the same for their countries (most often confused with ‘continent’).

But when the tournament kicks off, the questions are subsumed by enthusiastic optimism. The entirety of Africa’s football fans will watch, scream at television sets and even hug in bars, church recreation rooms in the name of one of the five African teams in the tournament. Even if it was the one that relegated a home African country out of contention for qualifying for the tournament.

And after the group stages, where we start counting the lower number of African countries left, we still cling to the hope that one will continue to the semi-finals. And we have come close, three times. With Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010, all of which lost at the quarter final stages of the sporting competition. And if satellite images in each of these previous tournaments could pick up images of the anguish of a continent, it would only be those of Africa that would be spectacular.

The anguish is not without cause. Firstly as part of a global spectacle, and as I am sure has been noted by sports writers and scholars, the World Cup is both footballing competition and affirmation of global ‘togetherness’ as well as identity (nationalism). The latter may be more so for many of the established football powerhouses who coincidentally tend to be either the most ‘developed’ countries.

For Africa however the World Cup appears to be primarily about both history and collective continental identity. Mainly because the continent cannot shirk off the false global impression that it is somewhat backward, not only in relation to ‘development’ but as a result thereof, in football.

And that’s the first burden of Africa and the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Even after successfully hosting the last one in South Africa (though it had FIFA special courts temporarily replacing South African ones).

Our teams, our players and ourselves have to get over the notions that inform our continental history of being assumedly backward or less than the other in order to succeed at the tournament. And this is what also informs our enthusiastic support for African teams, almost as though we are there to prove a point. Hence, almost every African football pundit hints at needing to concentrate more and keep focused in the aftermath of an initial defeat for an African team. Not only in relation to the game that was played, but in relation to the strength of other teams in the same qualifying group. Especially if they are known and established football powerhouses.

The Ivorian national team is popularly known as Les Éléphants (The Elephants). Image: ESPN ad, 2010

The Ivorian national team is popularly known as Les Éléphants (The Elephants). Image: ESPN ad, 2010

This general but given point, leads to the second burden. One which falls on the shoulders of the player. Especially the star player who plies his trade in the best football leagues in the world. He has to contend with the fact that in another country he would have been in one of the powerful teams. And that his real teammates may not be good enough to challenge for the title since he knows the quality of the players and teams they are all up against.

He has to commit what others in political circles have referred to as ‘class suicide’ and see himself as much a team player in his own national side than that which he usually gets very well paid for playing with. He has to believe in his own team, even against the odds, and this is a burden few players (and teams) have been able to shoulder. Apart from Cameroon 1990, Senegal 2002 and Ghana 2010.

This brings us to the third burden, that of the imperative of Africa having to learn to compete better in global tournaments through adequate and holistic domestic development of sporting cultures.

The tendency of most African states has been that of waiting for talent in various sporting disciplines to emerge by default as opposed to seeking it out and nurturing it. And where we have been most successful, particularly in long-distance running, we have lost our most prodigious talents to other countries. The burden of all Africans is to therefore invest in their sports, not at the whim of a corporations only but also through transparent state funding. As well as through the establishment of a sporting industry that respects and values talent across all sporting disciplines, economic classes and gender.

So, as the FIFA 2014 World Cup reaches familiar stages for African teams, the questions we must ask of ourselves are whether we are continually going to keep our fingers crossed and prayers consistently on our lips so that this time, a country from our continent wins it. Even if by luck. Or whether again we witness a faltering, not for a lack of talent, but for lack of holistic preparation. And once again, hear a sports commentator mention, ‘Oh my, the Africans are coming’ during a game and not know the full import of such a statement.

*Source thisisafrica

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World Cup 2014: Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi resigns after exit
July 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

keshi11Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has stepped down from his position after the Super Eagles’ exit from the World Cup in Brazil.

France scored twice in the last 11 minutes in Brasilia on Monday to reach the quarter-finals at their expense.

The 52-year-old was appointed Nigeria boss in 2011 and helped them become African champions two years later.

Nigeria captain Joseph Yobo also retired from international football following their exit.

Fenerbahce’s Yobo, 33, scored a late own goal after Paul Pogba’s header had broken Nigerian resistance.

Keshi offered his resignation after last year’s Africa Cup Of Nations triumph, citing a lack of support and respect, although he was persuaded to stay by Nigeria’s sport minister.

A group stage win against Bosnia-Hercegovina helped Nigeria reach the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time since 1998, despite the players being involved in a row over bonuses.

The achievement also made Keshi the first African coach to lead the Super Eagles past the group stage.

However, he now becomes the sixth manager to leave his job during the World Cup, following the departures of Honduras’s Luis Suarez, Iran’s Carlos Queiroz, Japan’s Alberto Zaccheroni, Italy’s Cesare Prandelli and Ivory Coast’s Sabri Lamouchi.

Keshi, who captained Nigeria at the 1994 World Cup finals, was previously in charge of Mali and Togo.

Yobo told BBC Sport it was a sad but glorious end to his own international career as Nigeria failed to make their first ever quarter-finals.

“This is it. I can look back on my career with great pride,” he said.

“It’s time to give a chance to other people to come through. Our football has a bright future and I am confident this team can achieve success sooner rather than later.”

Yobo is his country’s most capped player with 100 appearances and will continue to play club football.

His 10 matches at World Cup finals – a national record – have come in three tournaments, 2002, 2010 and 2014.

“I wanted to leave on a high for my country. Defeat by France was not the right way to go but I’m happy with all I’ve done for the national team,” he added.

*BBC

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The football world cup is a war game
June 30, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Jacques Sotero Agboton*

images (2)The performances of the national teams from Africa were disappointing.  There was nothing achieved because the teams’ objectives were mediocre.  However, we all agree that the players  showed greater athletic capacities than their adversaries with sometimes unequal dexterity. At this stage of an elite craftsmanship, we were certain many  African players had the same professional level as their peers. What truly lacked among the African players was the psychological preparation. Of course, it needed to be part of the coaching team’s preoccupation or otherwise, the lead coach’s philosophy.

Unfortunately, all the African national teams were psychologically unprepared for this world cup. And like the previous ones, they came as figureheads if not minstrels with horrible managerial baggage which came to overshadow their performance. One can already Imagine the image of shame sent by the flag bearers of a nation protesting on a world stage because their stipends or bonuses were not paid.

Here then is an appeal to the consciousness of our sport authorities as well as the various actors in the same domain. There is more that is at stakes than attending or participating in a world cup. Perhaps, it may be only the Africans who have not realized that winning is everything, and if not, the most crucial element of any sport, hence, football.

Thus, like all areas of human activities, namely,  economics, politics, religion, labor, law, education, sex, military war and ENTERTAINEMENT, of which sports or a sport like football, plays an important role; Africans must become aware wherever or whenever, they compete for position, they are engaged in a war. There is no need to remind Africans that they are a conquered people; dominated in almost every area of human activity that it behooves them to consider any challenge worth winning.

There is nothing innocuous about sports at the professional stage much less at the most elitist level such as a world cup. A world-game is another world war because there are numerous national and international interests with stakes in one form or another which depend on forecasted outcomes, executed in details planning from the onset to the final results.

Black Africa has been clueless because dragged in the euphoria purposely created to distract it from viewing and analyzing its position in the grand scheme of things. That is, Africans enter unconsciously into the grand scheme of world events.

Whereas in actuality, every competition, whether local, national or international has its own dynamics for the creation of industries for a myriad of products and the provision of services which feed groups of financiers, producers and a gigantic labor force, Africans still serve as the raw material source and still again, the market of slave gladiators.

We know that the games generate not only millions in a local currency, but many more in multiple currencies of other countries for licit transactions just as more in illicit operations that this element alone is important to understand whenever there are international games.

For as much as each game generates the sources of income for several million people, the crucial question then to raise now that the subservient position of Africans is quite clear remains, “in whose interest should an actor defend the national flag or better yet, the national stake? This question presented otherwise will bring Africans to comprehend their first mistake.

“Does a foreign coach from Europe, North or South America have at stake the winning of any  African national team over his country?”  The answer is “NO!”. Then again, if that should happen once or accidentally, it may not continue over time  simply because unlike Africans who seek glory or who pride themselves in the role as mercenaries , other foreigners will bid the highest earning in total obscurity for what they consider treasonous acts.

The second mistake we attribute to the cruel naivety or psychological bankruptcy is in the predicament  of African players exercising their professional craft in foreign leagues and who with such communion with their counterparts cannot exhibit the needed combativeness  when faced with their colleagues while strangers have no problems in dealing with others.

There was an insightful window  of this image captured by the camera during the match between Ghana and the USA. Essien from Ghana greeted the coach from the USA as he entered the game. This is an unacceptable behavior and the outcome of the match was evidently against the Ghanaians when Ghanaians were tactfully  dominating but less aggressive to win.

This is perhaps a reason African nations should consider severing ties with players who exercise their craft abroad such that local products of nationally coached players will develop the warring attitudes that crystallize squads of hungry go-getters in a team which wishes to win at all cost.

Any national team that progresses internally and reaches the same professional level as developed nations with its own winning strategies cannot be hampered in achieving the best result The only result worthy of praises is that of a champion.

Finally. The term “war-games” is not harmless and was certainly not invented accidentally. While to the African spectators, this term designates an exercise, in fact, it demonstrates the permanent state of mind of European aggressions from passive/defensive practices to offensive actions. Africans in general, players and coaching staff in particular, must begin to consider the hidden and also the symbolic in term such as “games of war” because that is part of the warmonger mindset.   In the European psyche, every part of human activity is a declared war zone.

There is too much at stake for unconsciousness and unacceptable behaviors which include negligence as well as dereliction of duty  when winning is the final expected outcome.

Once Africans understand this dimension or perspective on every undertaking, in whatever area of human activity, they will inject a greater input of aggressiveness. They must recognize the need to win over an adversary by all means. Only the prize of a champion is the larges. And should Africans consider this aspect of every game, then they will promote consequently economic fallouts befitting their efforts.

*Jacques Sotero Agboton is an international political analyst and can be reached through facebook.com

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Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup: Jonathan’s Delegation Dwarfs Obama’s, Others In Africa
June 15, 2014 | 0 Comments
By Ini Ekott

 

The Super Eagles of Nigeria and President Goodluck Jonathan

The Super Eagles of Nigeria and President Goodluck Jonathan

Nigeria, again, will spend a fortune on officials traveling abroad with President Goodluck Jonathan’s typically oversize presidential delegation to the World Cup in Brazil announced this week.

If the mega-size team had any chance escaping public attention, a similar presidential delegation announced by United States President Barack Obama, sealed it.

Mr. Jonathan’s team comprises governors, ministers, federal lawmakers and diplomats- totalling more than a dozen; while Mr. Obama’s has an advisor, a diplomat and two former athletes only.

The Nigerian team, led by the Senate President, David Mark, includes the Governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke; Governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shema; the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed; the Minister of Education, Nyesome Wike.

Others are the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Edem Duke; the Minister of Youth Development, Boni Haruna; the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Viola Onwuleri; the Chairman, Senate Committee on Sports, Adamu Gumba; the Chairman House Committee on Sports, Godfrey Ali Gaiya.
An advance team was led by the Minister of Sports, Tamuno Danagogo.

The delegation arrived at the Guarulhos International Airport, Sao Paulo, Brazil, at about 5 p.m. local time Wednesday.

The team’s official mission, a statement by the sports ministry said, was to convey “a presidential message” to the Super Eagles in Campinas Thursday morning ahead of Nigeria’s first group match against Iran, on June 16, in Curtiba.

In contrast, Mr. Obama’s four-person team, announced June 6, has Liliana Ayalde, United States Ambassador to Brazil; Michelle Akers, retired member of the United States Women’s National Soccer Team; and Gabrielle Reece, former Beach Volleyball World Champion.

The team was led by Daniel Pfeiffer, Senior Advisor to the President.

It is not clear yet how much the Nigerian government has budgeted for the World Cup. Details of that spending are curiously missing from the 2014 budget of the Nigerian Football Federation.

Nigeria spent N900 million for the South Africa 2010 World Cup, and N2.2 billion for the 2012 London Olympics.

The president’s official team is exclusive of lawmakers and several other government officials who also travelled to Brazil, still on government cost.
For the London Olympics for instance, five Senators and five House of Representatives members made the official sports ministry team.

The officials received far more money than the athletes at the London Olympics, according to details seen by PREMIUM TIMES.
History of jumbo teams
Since taking office in 2010, Mr. Jonathan has managed to build a notorious reputation for travelling for international events with huge entourages that often put him up for stinging criticisms.

In 2010, the president reportedly traveled with 120 people to New York.

In February 2013, officials who traveled with the president for an African Union meeting in Ethiopia, averaged 200, making the Nigerian delegation the largest to the meeting.

In September 2013, at least 600 Nigerians traveled to New York alongside the president for the United Nations meeting.

When concerns flared about the outsize team- which had clearly irrelevant members such party officials and ex-militants- the presidency scrambled a denial, saying those who traveled officially with the president were less than 30.

The response, in a statement issued by spokesperson, Reuben Abati, however admitted more people were in New York, but said they were there “for their own purposes”.

This time, though, Nigeria appears not alone.

West African neighbors, Ghana, also raised a controversial team to the World Cup, sparking public anger there.
One transparency organization in Ghana, Alliance for Accountable Governance, was quoted as describing Ghana’s 13-person delegation as Africa’s biggest, calling it “profligate and unnecessary”.

But the bulk of Ghana’s 13-person team are members of the country’s football federation and the sports ministry.

That means if such officials- who have also travelled from Nigeria- are included in the Nigerian list, Ghana will by far be outflanked by Nigeria.

The Ghanaian delegation includes the Sports Minister, Elvis Ankrah, Football Federation President, Kwesi Nyantekyi; his Vice, Fred Crentsil, Communications Director, Ibrahim Daara; Black Stars Coach, Kwesi Appiah, Federation Secretary, Emmanuel Gyimah, and Committee Member, George Afriyie.

The rest are members of parliament and party members.

*Source Sahara Reports

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Kenya football team goes to Brazil World Cup – to watch
June 14, 2014 | 0 Comments
The Harambee Stars won the Cecafa Challenge Cup in December, beating Sudan 2-0

The Harambee Stars won the Cecafa Challenge Cup in December, beating Sudan 2-0

Kenya’s president is paying for the national football team to go and watch some World Cup matches in Brazil to inspire them to qualify in future.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said he and his wife had promised to send them after they won a recent regional cup.

National captain Jeremy Onyango said it was “a dream come true for this team”.

Kenya is one of the world’s most successful nations in athletics but has never reached the finals of the football World Cup.

The BBC’s Paul Nabiswa in the capital, Nairobi, says despite recent footballing successes, some Kenyans will see the move as a waste of money, even if it is a personal donation.

Earlier in the week, Mr Kenyatta warned Kenyans to be cautious when watching World Cup matches in crowded bars, which could be targets for terror attacks.

But there was no noticeable extra security when people packed into venues to watch Thursday’s opening match, our correspondent says.

‘Jealous’

It is not clear how many matches the 11 Harambee Stars players will be attending or how long they will be staying in Brazil.

Bars in Nairobi were packed with fans watching the opening game on Thursday

Bars in Nairobi were packed with fans watching the opening game on Thursday

Mr Kenyatta said that he and his wife, Margaret, are giving $120,000 (£71,000) towards the trip, along with a $40,000 contribution from the East African Breweries company.

This would pay for 11 players and three team officials to go to the “greatest sporting event in the world”, the president said as he met the team at State House in Nairobi on Friday.

“When the team won the Cecafa Challenge Cup a few months ago, I did indeed make a personal pledge,” said Mr Kenyatta, who is one of Africa’s wealthiest men.

“We want our boys to go out to Brazil we hope that this will encourage them to do even better as they watch the standards of other international teams … [so] they will emulate what they see,” the president said, adding that he was jealous not to be going to Brazil himself.

Mr Kenyatta said his government would soon be announcing new ways to support the sport, whose administration has been dogged by allegations of mismanagement for years.

“Your support won’t die [for] this team and we are looking forward to more and more better things to come,” Mr Onyango said.

On Monday, Ghana’s government announced it was sending 500 fans and a cook to watch the Black Stars in Brazil, thanks to funds raised by the private sector.

*Source BBC

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Toure: We’re wiser now
June 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

1992668_full-lndYaya and Kolo Toure, Didier Drogba and Didier Zokora have made nearly 400 appearances for Côte d’Ivoire and have played for some of the biggest clubs in the world, becoming living Ivorian legends in the process. Together they make up a golden generation and have long been a source of pride not just for their nation but for the whole of Africa. Yet strangely for a quartet so talented, they have never won an international title.

Fresh from firing the Elephants to their third consecutive FIFA World Cup™ appearance, the fabulous foursome know that Brazil 2014 represents their last chance of earning some long-awaited glory. “Just going further than we’ve ever done before will be a triumph in itself,” Kolo Toure told FIFA.com, assessing his side’s world finals prospects. “I’m not setting any limits on what we can achieve. Why can’t we spring a surprise and make it to the Final? We’ve got the ability to do just that.”

Ruling nothing out, the Liverpool defender added: “This is our last chance to shine at this level. I’m 33 and Didier’s 36 and we’re closer to the end of our careers than the start. We’re going to enjoy this World Cup and show a different side to ourselves than we did the last two times, when we didn’t really perform that well. We’ll be doing what we can to be better.”

To his credit, Toure failed to mention that the Ivorians have never enjoyed much luck in the Final Draw. At Germany 2006 they were thrown into a daunting section with Argentina, the Netherlands and Serbia and Montenegro, and four years later their first-round opponents were Portugal, Brazil and Korea DPR. On both occasions, the Elephants failed to progress, a record they are looking to set straight in their third world finals, where a more favourable group awaits them. “The group is more evenly matched, with three teams who pose a very tough physical challenge but whom we are capable of beating,” he explained, in reference to Colombia, Greece and Japan.
While their rivals in Group C seem slightly less imposing than previous opponents, Côte d’Ivoire also look to be a tougher nut to crack these days. Not only have the country’s golden oldies gained in experience over the years, exciting youngsters such as Serge Aurier and Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro have come through in a side that also features a clutch of players in their prime, among them Salomon Kalou and Gervinho, who are 28 and 27 respectively.

The Ivorians are also strong in every department, as they proved in their near-flawless qualification campaign, winning four and drawing two of their six games in the group phase – scoring 15 goals and conceding five on the way – and then beating Senegal 4-2 on aggregate in the play-offs.

Lessons learned

index“In 2006 we were in dreamland,” said Toure, casting his mind back. “It was the first time our country had ever qualified for such a big competition. We were naive and we didn’t focus enough on the job in hand.

“In 2010 I felt we were a little bit stronger, thanks to the experience we’d had four years earlier. We were more determined when we went to South Africa but it was not enough. We have made some progress, though, and it’s good for us to have survivors from the last two World Cups in the team today. We’ve learned the lessons of the past and we’re making sure we pass on our knowledge to the younger players.”

Though focused on the job in hand, the Elephants have also been in relaxed mood at their Brazilian training camp in Aguas de Lindoia, where both faces old and new have been laughing and smiling together as one.

“The mood in the camp is pretty relaxed,” said the former Arsenal and Manchester City man. “That’s just the way we are in Côte d’Ivoire. You just pick it up at the football academies. We’ve known each other for a long time and we’re more than friends. We all see ourselves as brothers.”

Rounding off our chat, Yaya’s older brother said: “That’s the strength of the team, whether we win or lose. That team spirit and the joy we get from being together is what really count. And in the end it doesn’t matter too much how the competition pans out because that’s the thing that will always stay in our minds.”

*Source FIFA

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President Hayatou denies British Sunday Times allegations
June 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

images (4)The President of the Confederation Africaine de Football (CAF) and Vice President of FIFA, Issa Hayatou has denied categorically the allegations of corruption published by the UK Sunday Times in its edition of 1st June 2014. Before publication of the article, Mr Issa Hayatou received an email on May 30, 2014 at 18:21 from one of the Sunday Times’ representatives, Heidi Blake, summoning the CAF President to respond to questions sent by e-mail before the next day, 31 May 2014, at 16:00. The email expressed fanciful allegations that Mr Hayatou would have received valuable gifts from Mr Bin Hammam and would have also been greatly pampered during a tour in Doha in December 2009. The CAF President never attended events from invitations of Mr Bin Hammam either in Doha or Kuala Lumpur. The Sunday Times representative also carried a number of serious accusations against Mr Hayatou, which included allegations that Mr Bin Hammam, as President at the time of the committee of the FIFA Goal Project would have favoured the Cameroonian federation with a project worth US$400 000 in exchange of support and votes for Qatar. Yet the allegation “demonstrated cruel ignorance” of the functions of FIFA bodies. In FIFA Committees, decisions are not taken by presidents of the Committees unilaterally but are collective decisions. As current president of the FIFA Development Committee, Mr Hayatou understands how any such Committee programmes are planned and decided. The Sunday Times claimed just before 2 December 2010, Mr Hayatou received (60) World Cup match tickets from Mr Bin Hammam. But there is no mention of which World Cup is being referred to; whether it was 2010 or the 2014? As Chairman of the Organising Committee of the 2010 World Cup and vice-president of FIFA, does Mr Hayatou need anybody to offer him match tickets for the World Cup as gifts? Is he not justified and entitled in his positions to receive match tickets? Despite the ridiculous allegations, the CAF president has decided to answer to those accusations through this statement. On one hand, Mr Hayatou has never received any money from Mr Bin Hammam, the Emir of Qatar or any member of the Qatar 2022 Bidding Committee; on the other hand the Sunday Times asked Mr Hayatou what the subject of the meeting was between the Emir of Qatar and President of Cameroon. Mr Hayatou questioned the level of professionalism and the allegations as there was no such meeting between Emir of Qatar and President of Cameroon. To Heide Blakes’ allegation that Mr. Bin Hammam arranged for medical treatment for Hayatou at a private clinic after he voted for Qatar 2022, no such arrangement was made and is a pure invention. images (5)The only treatment Mr Hayatou received in Qatar related to a dialysis session in Doha in early January 2011 during the AFC Congress, for which as usual, he was invited. After that the Sunday Times asked if Mr Hayatou was aware of payments made by Mr Bin Hammam to some presidents of African football federations and if any such payments influenced his vote, Mr Hayatou said he was not aware. On accusations of being offered luxury accommodation and business class flight tickets and others, Mr Hayatou said the allegation was a lie meant to manipulate public opinion. Mr Hayatou has never accepted any flight tickets or any privileges from Qatar 2022. In January 2011, he was accommodated in Doha for two nights by the AFC during the AFC Congress, a principal applied worldwide during confederations’ congress. Mr Hayatou will not allow journalists once again to attack his integrity and reputation. Such allegations are meant to discredit not only him as a person but the whole continent. Like in 2011, the CAF president is waiting for the famous evidence from the Sunday Times and reserves the right to take legal action against any of those responsible for the smear campaign against him. * mareeg]]>

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Nigeria stars set to receive $1m bonus for Nations Cup win
March 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Oluwashina Okeleji*

Africa’s wealthiest businessman Aliko Dangote is set to fulfil his promise to reward Nigeria’s team with $1m for winning the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

After a public appeal by Super Eagles captain Vincent Enyeama, it seems Dangote is about to come good.

He told BBC Sport: “We’ve been waiting for Nigerian officials to collect the money but nobody has written to us.

“We will write to them, asking for the account numbers of the players, then we’ll make the transfer immediately.”

Dangote, who is group president and chief executive officer of the Dangote Group, is reputed to be Africa’s richest man.

Earlier this month he became the first African to be listed in the top 25 of Forbes magazine’s annual ranking of global billionaires, with a net worth of $25bn.

His wealth has been accumulated from a business empire that he founded in 1977 and now includes the number one sugar production company in Nigeria, a cement factory and textile products.

Dangote added that “the money was promised through the presidency [during a state dinner last February]” and he had been waiting to be approached about the pledge.

The delay led to a public appeal by Nigeria goalkeeper Enyeama, who said: “It was just a reminder to patriots who are very busy and may not have been prompted after they made their pledges.

“The players are determined to bring more honours to fatherland at the forthcoming World Cup.”

images (4)Enyeama was full of praise for Cross River State governor Liyel Imoke for following through with his promise to give members of Super Eagles one plot of land each in the state capital, Calabar.

Last week, Nigerian Football Federation president Aminu Maigari delivered the land papers from government house in Calabar to team administrator Dayo Enebi Achor, who has since commenced their distribution to all the players and officials.

But Nigerian economist and banker Tony Elumelu’s promise of $500,000 for the Super Eeagle’s Nations Cup success in South Africa remains outstanding.

*Source BBC

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Africa: Madjer – Algeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria Will Qualify
November 13, 2013 | 0 Comments
Rabah Madjer

Rabah Madjer

At age 54, Rabah Madjer has not changed much physically and his enthusiasm remains same. His goal against Germany at the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain and his decisive back-heel in the European Champion Clubs’ Cup (now UEFA Champions League) in 1987 with FC Porto against Bayern Munich has earned him legendary status. He made 87 appearances with the Algeria national teams.

Ahead of the return matches of the 2014 FIFA World Cup playoffs, Madjer talks to Cafonline.com about the chances of the contenders. Below are excerpts;

You are now a consultant for the gulf-based television channel, Al Jazeera, but that has still not prevented you from following football?

I played with the Algeria national team for over 10-years, appeared in two World Cups (1982 and 1986), won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1990 and the UEFA Champions League (formerly European Champion Clubs’ Cup) in 1987. I also had stints as a coach. In all these, the virus never leaves you. I continue to monitor the game including those of the Algeria national team and other leagues. I’m always connected to the world of football.

Have you been following the World Cup playoffs?

Yes, especially the Burkina Faso and Algeria game because it involves the national team of my country. From the bottom of my heart, it is my wish to see Algeria at next year’s World Cup, but there’s still 90 minutes to play for.

From a technical point, what do you make of the first leg which ended 2-2?

I have always refrained from passing comments on technical aspects. The Algerians had the kind of game they wanted and have to prepare psychologically for the return leg.

Do you think the two away goals is an advantage for Algeria?

I think Algeria has the means to score, not one but more. The attack of the Algerian team has been effective recently, which is evident in the team scoring away from home. This is the most important aspect in my opinion about the team.

Away from Algeria, what of the Tunisia and Cameroon game after the first leg ended 0-0?

Madjer cannot hide that as my wish is to see neighbours Tunisia qualifying for the World Cup. But the return leg in Yaounde will be very difficult. Cameroon are very strong at home and with Tunisia failing to win at home, the mission looks tough.

Many are of the opinion that the draw is a fair result for either side, Tunisia or Cameroon?

Cameroon is a great team and to achieve a draw outside, I think that’s half a victory for the Indomitable Lions. It is always positive to get a draw especially when it comes to a double confrontation. The Tunisians will find it difficult to adapt to the climatic conditions in Cameroon. It will be a benefit for the Indomitable Lions.

Another North African team, Egypt lost 6-1 to Ghana. Do you foresee a miracle in Cairo?

We can talk about a surprise but by the magnitude of the score seems unthinkable. Egypt though remains one of the great football teams on the continent. They have a good team but the mission is almost impossible. Beating Ghana, currently the best team on the continent 5-0 is not obvious. Even if they score two or three goals, it will be a big performance.

African champions, Nigeria won 2-1 against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa. Are the Super Eagles already in Brazil?

In view of its success in Ethiopia, the second leg will be a mere formality for Nigeria, also one of the greatest football nations on the continent. This is a team that has always been a danger to opponents. Ethiopia has made tremendous progress in recent years, but in my opinion it is not enough. Nigerian players are superior and Stephen Keshi has done a great job to bring his team to the top.

Cote d’Ivoire beat Senegal 3-1 in Abidjan. Are the Elephants through?

This is no longer the Senegal we know. The mission of the Teranga Lions is extremely complicated. I see very little of Senegal beating Cote d’Ivoire 2-0 with all the Ivorian armada.

What do you make of the recent call by FIFA President Sepp Blatter for an increase in African slots at the World Cup?

It would be a very good thing for our football. In Africa, football has grown and you can see that every day. This is also the case for Asian football. The World Cup is a prestigious platform featuring the best teams in the world and it is always a pleasure for me to see African nations there.

What are your five African teams to go through to the 2014 FIFA World Cup?

I hope Algeria will and it has the potential to do so. Though it is my wish to see Tunisia through, I believe Cameroon will eventually snatch the ticket to Brazil. In principle Ghana, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire should have no problem confirming their tickets.

*Source CAF Online
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Eaglets get N2m each, national honours
November 11, 2013 | 0 Comments

BY OLALEKAN ADETAYO*

Eaglets-get-N2m-each-national-honours-360x225President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday announced a cash gift of N2m each for all the players of the nation’s Under-17 team, the Golden Eaglets, who won the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Soccer Championship on Friday in Abu Dhabi, United Emirates.

The players, their handlers and key members of the Nigerian Supporters’ Club, according to the President, will also be honoured with national honours during the next award ceremony.

Jonathan announced the rewards at a reception he held in honour of the players at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The President announced a N3m cash gift to the team’s Head Coach; the assistant coaches get N2.5m each; the team doctor, physiotherapist and team secretary get N500,000 each while the team technical officer, team coordinator, medical officers and the curator will get N300,000 each.

Jonathan said with the gifts, he was keeping his earlier promise to the team when he charged them to go and conquer the world.

Describing the cash gifts as token, the President encouraged state governments and members of the organised private sector to join the Federal Government in appreciating players, saying no amount of reward could be adequate for the young Nigerians.

“The team, the handlers, the coaches and the officials including some key members of the supporters club and the Nigerian Football Federation will all be rewarded when we give national honours,” he said.

The President said he was pleased to host and honour the players who he said by their outstanding performance had brought pride and honour to Nigeria and Africa.

He said the players won fairly and convincingly, adding that the victory is for the whole of Africa.

*Source Punch Nigeria

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Marc-Vivien Foe death: His legacy 10 years after collapsing on pitch
June 26, 2013 | 0 Comments

By Simon Austin*

It was the brutal abruptness of Marc-Vivien Foe’s fatal collapse that made it so shocking.

In the 73rd minute of the Confederations Cup semi-final between Cameroon and Colombia at Lyon’s Stade de Gerland, the powerful midfielder was jogging along innocuously.

No-one was close to him and nothing seemed wrong, yet suddenly he collapsed to the ground in the centre circle. Medical and support staff attempted to resuscitate the player on the pitch, before carrying him on a stretcher to the bowels of the stadium, where attempts to restart his heart failed and the man known affectionately by his team-mates as ‘Marcus’ was pronounced dead.

That was 10 years ago, on 26 June 2003, but the memories are still painfully fresh for Cameroon’s then manager, Winfried Schafer. The German says neither he nor his players had realised the seriousness of the situation at first.

“We won the match 1-0 and the players were dancing in the changing rooms afterwards,” he told BBC World Service’s Sportsworld programme. “Then [captain] Rigobert Song came in and cried and said “Marcus, Marcus” and told us he was dead.

“Everyone was shocked and was asking why. All the players were crying. I went out of the dressing room and heard two ladies crying very, very loudly. Then I saw Marcus lying there, on a table, with his mother and wife by his side. I touched his leg and I went outside and cried too.”

Pat Nevin, then chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association, was broadcasting at the tournament and attended a special Cameroon news conference the following day.

“It was devastating for everyone involved, but there were some lifting moments,” he remembers. “Seven Cameroon players came out and they all spoke beautifully about their friend and team-mate and their desire to carry on in the tournament.

“It was a beautiful moment after a tragedy and I’ve been a Cameroon supporter ever since.”

A first autopsy failed to establish the cause of the 28-year-old’s death, but a second found he been suffering from a condition calledhypertrophic cardiomyopathy. 

The big question everyone asked was how could a fit, athletic footballer with no known history of heart problems have died in such a way?

“When you looked at that Cameroon team, they were big, strong and tall, and Marc-Vivien epitomised that,” Nevin says. “He was a box-to-box player and his fitness was extraordinary.”

Sanjay Sharma,  Professor of Cardiology at the University of London, who has worked with both Manchester City and Team GB at the 2012 Olympics, explains that the first sign of the condition is often death.

“People with the condition, which is characterised by abnormal thickening of the heart muscle, are about three to five times more likely to suffer a cardiac arrest if exercising vigorously than leading a sedentary lifestyle,” he says.

“Sadly, 80% of sportsmen who die from this condition have no prior warning signals and sudden death is the first presentation.”

After consultation with Foe’s widow, Marie-Louise, as well as his parents, Fifa decided that the Confederations Cup final between France and Columbia should go ahead as planned. Many of France’s players, including striker Thierry Henry, were in tears as they lined up before the game.

A picture of Foe was shown on the big screen ahead of the game and Cameroon’s players held a huge photo of him during the trophy presentation to eventual winners France.

The midfielder was given a state funeral in Cameroon in July 2003. Journalist Francis N-gwa Niba, who was there, remembers: “The funeral was huge. The president was there, [Fifa president] Sepp Blatter, everyone who was anyone in African football.

“Thousands stood by the side of the road outside the cathedral and I remember one banner in particular, which read ‘a lion never dies, he just sleeps’.”

Foe left behind a wife and sons aged six and three, as well as a daughter of only two months old. The player’s generosity had been legendary, and there were reports that he hadn’t much money left behind.

Foe was buried on the site of the football academy he had been having built in his hometown of Yaounde. He used to send a proportion of his wages home to his father Martin each month to fund the construction of the complex, but N-gwa Niba says it now “sadly has practically been abandoned now because of lack of funding”.

Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions have also been in decline following the death of their star midfielder. Going into the 2003 Confederations Cup they were the undoubted kings of their continent, having won the previous two African Cup of Nations tournaments, in 2000 and 2002.

Since then, N-gwa Niba says “Cameroon football has been going down the drain” and they haven’t won another Cup of Nations.

Foe had been on loan at Manchester City from Lyon in the 2002-03 season, making 35 appearances and scoring nine goals. City retired his number 23 shirt after his death, while a street was named after him in Lyon.

A positive result of Foe’s death has been huge improvements in both the testing of footballers for heart problems and the treatment they receive during matches

. Professor Sharma admits he was shocked when he watched footage of the on-field treatment that Foe received.

“A player went down without any contact, his eyes rolled back, he had no tone in his body, so it was clear something terrible had gone wrong,” he says.

“It took quite a while for the penny to drop that this was not going to get better with the magic sponge or fluid being poured on his head though. As cardiologists, we like resuscitation to start within a minute and a half of someone going down, and for the defibrilator  to be used within three minutes.

Foe was given a state funeral in Cameroon“That gives us an outcome of about 70% living. Yet a good five, six minutes went by before I could see any positive action with Marc-Vivien Foe. That was perhaps because this was the first time something like this had happened in football. After all, you don’t expect a champion footballer like this to go down and die.”

Fifa’s chief medical officer, Jiri Dvorak, admits big improvements had to be made following Foe’s death.

“We have done a lot of work to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac arrest since then,” he told BBC Sport. “At all levels, we have examination of players before arrival at a competition.

“We have also trained the sideline medical teams in CPR  and using defibrilators. We have a plan if something happens and the equipment – including for the team physicians of all teams. The medical personnel are adequately educated.”

Professor Sharma says such improvements were in evidence when Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup match against Tottenham last March.

“If you look at the first minutes of him going down, it was clear the medical staff quickly realised the severity of the situation,” he said. “The first thing I noticed in the Bolton doctor’s hand was a defibrilator. They started resuscitation on the pitch and delivered two shocks before they moved him.”

There will be a tribute to Foe before Wednesday’s Confederations Cup semi-final between Brazil and Uruguay.

A decade on, football will remember a fine player who grew up in poverty in Africa and went on to play in some of the biggest leagues in Europe. Foe’s former team-mate, Shaka Hislop, says he will mainly remember a friendly, happy and down-to-earth man though.

Foe arrived at West Ham in 2000 as their club record £4m signing, yet could not have been more unassuming.

“He was much-heralded and seemingly had the world at his feet,” says Hislop, “but he was as genuine and likeable as they come. Regardless of what was asked of him, he did it with a smile and I thought he represented the best of football and footballers.”

*Source BBC 

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A Salute To Big Boss: Keshi Rests The Case For African Coaches
February 13, 2013 | 1 Comments

A Salute To Big Boss: Keshi Rests The Case For African Coaches

“It’s not for me alone. I hope more African coaches will get to this position and make their country proud,” says the Nigerian Coach

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Nigeria may have won the just ended African Nations Cup in South Africa but if there is one individual who needs to be singled out as the man  of the tournament, it is undoubtedly Stephen Keshi who coached the victorious side. Only the second individual to win the cup as a player and as a Coach, Keshi’s feat makes the case for more Africans to be trusted with responsibilities of managing National Teams across the continent.

As is often the case, the bulk of countries at the Nations cup came with foreign coaches. Few are those who gave Keshi’s Nigeria a chance to emerge victorious. After missing out at the 2010 tournament, the Nigerian football Federation gave Keshi fondly known as the “Big Boss” the responsibility of leading the Super Eagles. It was a daunting task, but he took to it with principles of his own and chief amongst them: banking on local talent. People could not understand why he deployed so much energy working with players who ply their trade in the domestic league in Nigeria when the country had top notch professionals playing in Europe. The truth is the professionals failed woefully at the world cup in South Africa and did not even make it to the 2011 nations cup hosted by Equatorial Guinea and South Africa.

Guided by his principles, Keshi went to South Africa for the Nations Cup with at least six home based players.  His decision to leave behind some of the big professional players generated skepticism. The skepticism gained currency when Nigeria could only pick draws in its first two matches against Burkina Faso and Zambia. As is often the case in Africa, word started going round that Keshi will be sent packing after the tournament in preference of a foreign coach.

Against all odds, the Nigeria that fans saw in the knock out stages was completely transformed. First star studded hot favourites Ivory Coast were sent

Sunday Mba's winner earned Nigeria a 1-0 victory in the final,he plays for the domestic league

Sunday Mba’s winner earned Nigeria a 1-0 victory in the final,he plays for the domestic league

packing and talk about a policy paying off, it was one of the home based players groomed by Keshi who scored the winning goal. It took a victory over Ivory Coast for people to start thinking that perhaps Keshi was right. At the end Nigeria were crowned champions and in vindication of his vision and philosophy, Sunday Mba who scored the lone goal that won cup is a home based played.

As Nigeria and the continent celebrate his victory, isn’t it time for the other countries to think about giving more African coaches the free hand and resources to manage football? At most of the press conferences Keshi held, the topic kept coming up. “I am never against a white coach in Africa, because I’ve always worked with white coaches,” Keshi said. “If you want to bring in a classic, an experienced coach from Europe, I am ready to learn from that coach, because he’s better than me, he has more knowledge than me,” Keshi who captained the Nigerian Team that won the 1994 nations cup went on. “We have quality African players, or ex-African players, who can do the same thing, but they’re not given the opportunity because they’re just black dudes. I don’t like it,” Keshi complained.

Keshi has a reason to complain and he is a perfect example of a Coach who sowed and someone else was brought it to reap. He qualified little fancied Togo for the 2006 World Cup in Germany only to be replaced by a foreigner who was not as competent as he was .The result, a promising Togolese side had a lousy outing in Germany. Even with his experiment working in South African, there were rumours flying around of plans by the Nigerian Football authorities to replace him. Such disrespect prompted him to consider resignation after his country was crowned as African champions.

There is nothing wrong in having a foreign coach but is it rationale to bring in substandard coaches when there are qualified Africans who can produce better results? How many sides in Europe or South America will consider having a foreigner to coach their national teams? How comes African countries bring in coaches who are considered incompetent to coach clubs that their professional players excel in?

So many reasons are advanced for not trusting African coaches, competence, tribalism, corruption, et al. The truth remains that give these guys the same treatment reserved for white coaches and there will be produce results. Give African coaches contracts, pay them the same salaries foreign Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan with victorious Eaglescoaches are paid, make their working conditions the same, give them a free hand to manage the teams,  give them ample time to build a team and the odds are that the results will come.

When it is considered a favour to give an African the responsibility of serving as coach, with low wages, unbearable working conditions and no free hand to do the job, it is hard to expect positive results. Egypt won the nations cup thrice in succession with an Egyptian as a coach. For the numerous foreign coaches it continues to have today, the only time Ivory Coast won a nations cup was in 1992 when they had Yao Martial an Ivorian serving as coach. Keshi’s gamble in blending local talent and professionals and instilling a winning mentality into his side speaks to the genius of African coaches. Nigeria’s victory in South Africa was no accident, it was because of the  talent assembled by the brilliance, conviction, and principles of Stephen Keshi. He deserves a big salute and Africa should learn to trust its own talents.

 

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Samuel Eto’o: Cameroon soccer officials after my life
February 9, 2013 | 1 Comments

By YUH TIMCHIA in Yaoundé*

Cameroon’s national football team captain Samuel Eto’o has stirred up debate about the country’s football woes after he accused local federation officials of wanting to take his life and challenged them to a live debate on national television.

“They want to kill me. I live in the national team with gendarmes, not out of snobbery…I cannot put the team jerseys on, I get mine directly from Puma,” the footballer said in an online video chat with young Cameroonians Wednesday organized by local satirical magazine Je Wanda.

The FC Anzhi Makhachkala striker also said he is cautious about what he eats during training camps.

Eto’o was among 11 players who did not honour a call up for a friendly against Tanzania on Wednesday. He cited an injury as the reason for his failure to show up in the game Tanzania won one nil.

However, some critics say it was a phony reason, which shows Cameroon football is still in perilous waters.

Others blame the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT) for the falling standards of the sport in the erstwhile continental heavyweight.

The four-time African player of the year does not see a bright future for Cameroon football unless the wrangling pinning it down is resolved.
Eto’o said that FECAFOOT officials are incompetent, corrupt and should all resign.

“These aged persons have swindled our money enough…instead of managing football for the general interest, they are only concerned with fictitious missions, first class travels and untraceable bank accounts in Europe.”

Cameroon faces Togo in March in playoffs for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and Eto’o does not think Cameroon in its current state will be able to beat the Sparrow Hawks.

He said the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations has had a good level so far adding that merit goes to teams like Nigeria and Togo that solved the problems plaguing their football.

FECAFOOT has still not commented on the team captain’s allegations.

In a report on afrikitalia.it, Italy-based Cameroonian journalist Jean Claude Mbede Fouda said a

senior

FA official told him Eto’o was unpatriotic and his claims “frivolous”.

“When you’re a friend to a group of individuals currently detained for embezzlement, and are responsible for destabilizing the country’s football to topple the government, you act like Samuel [Eto’o].”

The official reportedly said the FA was ready for the televised debate and said he was sure Eto’o will not emerge winner.

Cameroon’s last performance at an international senior level tournament, the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, laid bare the country’s football troubles.

The four-time African champions, the Indomitable Lions, were booted out of the

competition

without a single point. They then failed to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012 and this

year.

*Source Africa Review

 

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Cameroon’s outspoken footballer
January 24, 2013 | 0 Comments

Assou-Ekotto: I say what I think … if you don’t like it, I don’t care

By Alex Thomas*

Assou-Ekotto made his first appearance for Cameroon's "Indomitable Lions" in February 2009 against Guinea. He also represented Cameroon at the 2010 World Cup.On the pitch, he is known as a combative defender whose marauding runs down the left flank have helped him establish himself as one of football’s most enterprising fullbacks.

Off the pitch, however, Tottenham Hotspur left back Benoit Assou-Ekotto is far from your ordinary top-level footballer.

Opinionated and strong-minded, Assou-Ekotto’s surprisingly candid views have often been at odds with the monotonous, if not pretentious, rhetoric that often surrounds the beautiful game.

The French-born Cameroonian international has famously admitted that he’s playing the sport just for the money on offer. He’s grabbed headlines by saying every player is driven by riches and has openly criticized badge-kissing peers of “hypocrisy.”

he refreshingly open, yet soft-spoken, player describes football as a “very, very, very good job,” but says there are more important things in life. He shies away from the celebrity lifestyle favored by many of his English Premier League colleagues and has few friends within football.

“For me it’s very important to have a normal friend and not only friends in football because you can see the reality and the difficulty of the life, [which] you can forget as your job is a very good job,” he explains.

Is he concerned whether some of his comments can be seen in a negative way? “I’m honest and I say what I think,” says Assou-Ekotto, who is known as much for his frank comments as his eye-catching hairstyles. “If you don’t like, I don’t care — I know how I speak maybe will not help me, but I don’t care and I have too much confidence in me.”

With a French mother and having grown up in the city of Arras, northern France, Assou-Ekotto, 28, could have played for the French national team.

I have more feeling with Cameroon and Africa,” he explains.

Assou-Ekotto says that his decision to play in Africa does limit his earning potential at club level in Europe. He claims African players don’t earn the same wages as other players, partly because they have to play in the Africa Cup of Nations. The tournament, which is usually held every two years, takes many of the continent’s top football stars out of action for their club teams at a critical period in the European domestic season.

“When you make a choice and play for an African [national] team, the football will be more difficult for you because you have the Africa Cup of Nations and there’s not a club [that] wants their footballers to travel one month out in the middle of the season,” he says. “A French player or an English player or a Belgium player or a Spain player would be all the time more expensive as an African player — it’s like that, it’s a reality.”

Yet, for Assou-Ekotto, the choice to represent Cameroon’s “Indomitable Lions” was easy to make.

“I prefer to be proud to play for my country, even if my football will be more difficult, [than] to play for France and don’t have a feeling,” he says.

Assou- Ekotto, who joined Tottenham from French outfit Lens in the summer of 2006, comes from a fine footballing pedigree. His older brother Mathieu played top-flight football in Belgium, while his dad, David, left Cameroon for France as a teenager to play professionally. Assou-Ekotto’s footballing education came from watching matches with his dad, who was an astute mentor, passing on the nuances of the sport.

“Every weekend when I was about 10 I go with him to see football and to play football and then I said, it’s a good job,” remembers Assou-Ekotto. “I said, okay, I will focus only on the football.”

Disinterested with learning in the classroom, Assou-Ekotto dropped out of school at the age of 16 to pursue his sporting ambition. But although his gamble has paid off, Assou-Ekotto says today he regrets not completing high school.

His view on the importance of education has prompted him to start BA32, a foundation promoting the idea of teaching youth in a practical and interesting way, focused on encouraging children across the globe to learn more about mathematics, science and technology.

“When I make this foundation [it] is to give the opportunity to a young boy to understand that the education and the school is very important because you know when you are young you don’t see the real problems of the life; to sleep under the roof you have to pay every month,” he says. “I think it is more easy to pay this kind of stuff when you are clever and when you have a good job.”

Assou-Ekotto is keen for his philanthropy, rather than his sporting success, to be his lasting legacy.

“I prefer to be remembered about what I will do after football because every weekend about 40,000 people enjoy with me and my team but I hope to help more than 40,000 people after football over the world,” he says. “People need help and that will be more interesting for me. People [will remember me] not just as a footballer, because I am not just a footballer.”

*Source CNN 

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Katongo named 2012 BBC African Footballer of the Year
December 18, 2012 | 0 Comments

Christopher Katongo has won the 2012 BBC African Footballer of the Year award.

The 30-year-old Zambia captain beat off competition from Demba Ba, Didier Drogba, Younes Belhanda and Yaya Toure to become the first winner from southern Africa in the history of the award.

Katongo told BBC Sport: “This is a fantastic moment for me. I thank the people who voted for me. It is something I will never forget in my career.

“This means a lot for the young people and the young players who look up to me. I could not have achieved this without the support of my team-mates.”

The shortlist for the award was drawn up by football experts from every country in Africa, who based their choices on players’ skill, technical ability, teamwork, consistency and fair play.
And a record number of people nominated their favourite online or by text message with just over 40% of the votes going to Katongo, who plays his club football in China for Henan Construction.

While all the players on the shortlist have enjoyed a superb year, with four of the players picking up silverware, it is Katongo whose performances and achievements have been considered by African football fans to be the greatest.

“I think the things that they (the fans) like about me is my discipline and that I am the kind of player who can fail one day but pull up his socks and keep going. I think that is why they voted for me,” added Katongo.

“To be among the top players who have won this award, I will go to sleep with a smile on my face.
“I did my best and the people have spoken. That’s the beauty of this award.”
Katongo, who is also a soldier in his home country, was inspirational as he led Zambia to their first Africa Cup of Nations title in February.

He scored three goals en route to the final of the tournament in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon and then struck a successful penalty in an 8-7 shoot-out victory over favourites Ivory Coast to lift the trophy in Libreville.

It was an emotional moment for Zambia, who had suffered a tragic air disaster 19 years previously, when a plane carrying most of the national team crashed when only 500m offshore from Libreville, killing all 25 passengers and five crew.

Seven months after leading Zambia to glory Katongo was again his country’s talisman, this time in a 2013 Nations Cup qualifying tie when he scored the only goal of the game in his side’s final-round first leg match against Uganda.

And it proved to be a vital strike as Chipolopolo lost the return leg 1-0 but made it through to next year’s tournament in South Africa by winning 9-8 in another penalty shoot-out.

In between those Nations Cup heroics, Katongo also provided the spark that lifted Zambia out of a difficult phase in their 2014 World Cup qualification campaign.

Zambia suffered a 2-0 defeat away to Sudan in Khartoum in June – a result that remains in doubt while Sudan are being investigated for allegedly fielding an ineligible player – and they desperately needed a result against Ghana a week later.

Yet again it was Katongo who stepped up and scored the winner, putting his side’s campaign back on track.

And if Katongo can continue the form that has helped his country to new heights, as well as earning him individual recognition, he may well propel Zambia to the biggest stage of all in Brazil in 18 months’ time.

*Source BBC

 

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10 Highest Paid African Footballers
November 24, 2012 | 0 Comments

*By Kate Hodges*

led by Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon, African stars are earning big from football

led by Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon, African stars are earning big from football

Africa’s football stars have become a common sight in the world’s most competitive leagues. These sons of Africa are among some of the highest earning athletes in the world. Howzit MSN looks at the current 10 highest earning footballers from Africa.

Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon)

Striker Eto’o moved to Russian football club in August 2011, as a result he is currently the highest paid footballer in the world. His annual salary tops €20 million after tax. In addition to his whopping salary, Eto’o earns millions from sponsorship deals annually. Eto’o started his club career at Real Madrid aged 16. He then moved to various Spanish clubs before a five-year stint at Barcelona and two years at Inter Milan. He has 110 caps for the Cameroon national team in which he has scored 53 goals.

Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast)

The Manchester City midfielder commands a salary of €15 million a year. Before Eto’o moved to Russia Toure was the highest paid African footballer in the world. Toure is a power player with an impressive record with former team Barcelona. He moved to the Premier League to join Manchester City in 2010. Since his move he has played a central role for the resurgent City side – earning himself the African Footballer of the Year award for 2011.

Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast)

The Ivorian striker’s move from Chelsea to Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua sees him earning a salary of €12.9 annually. The power forward moved to the Chinese side at the end of June 2012 when his contract with Chelsea expired. Drogba scored 100 goals at Chelsea in 226 appearances over a period of eight years. The striker has scored 59 goals in 90 caps for his national team. He has undertaken several projects for charity and has started his own foundation – The Didier Drogba Foundation. The double African Footballer of the Year winner is a UN Goodwill Ambassador.

Seydou Keita (Mali)

The Malian midfielder earns an impressive annual salary of €12 million from Chinese Super League club Dalian Aerbin F.C. He moved to the Chinese side in 2012 following a successful four year spell at Barcelona. He has already scored four goals in 12 appearances for his new side. Dalian Keita has made 72 appearances for Mali since making his international debut in 2001. He has scored 19 goals for the national team.

Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo)

The Togo striker’s current salary is €10 million. He finally joined Tottenham Hotspur, where he spent a season on loan from Manchester City, permanently following a protracted salary negotiation. In contrast to Adebayor’s reputation as a difficult player, he is also one of the most charitable footballers around. He has undertaken several projects in his native Togo and other parts of the continent. Earlier this year he launched his own charity – the SEA Foundation.

Kolo Toure (Ivory Coast)

The Ivorian earns €5.8 million a year, an impressive sum for a defender. He moved to City following a seven year stint at Arsenal. Toure made his international debut in 2000, he has since made 98 appearances and scored 15 goals for the national team. Toure was linked with a move to Turkish giants Galatasaray during the last transfer window, but the centre back remained at City when the window closed.
Christopher Samba (Congo)

Congolese defender Christopher Samba joined the list following a lucrative move to Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala. His current salary is in the area of €5.5 million. Samba’s move came after a five year spell at Premier League side Blackburn Rovers. He was often played as a striker at Blackburn, scoring 16 goals in 161 appearances. He has 26 international caps for Congo.

Frederic Kanoute (Mali)

The Franco-Malian striker joined Chinese club Beijing Guoan for a reported salary of €6.2 million annually. Kanoute, who was born in Lyon France to a French mother and Malian father, was a Spanish side Sevilla for seven years. The devout Muslim helped buy a mosque in the Spanish city. He scored 23 goals in 39 appearances for Mali, before retiring from international football in 2010.

Michael Essien (Ghana)

Ghana midfielder Michael Essien reportedly earns a salary of €5.1 million annually. The former BBC African Footballer of the Year also has several lucrative sponsorship deals with Nike, MTN, and Guinness-Africa among others. Following a seven year spell at Premier League giant Chelsea, Essien was reunited with former manager Jose Mourinho, when he went to Spanish super club Real Madrid on a season long loan.

Mikel John Obi (Nigeria)

Mikel John Obi reportedly earns a €4.5 million salary from Premier League club Chelsea. When he was just 18-years-old he was linked with a move to Manchester United, but ended up signing with Chelsea under highly controversial circumstances. He has made 172 appearances for Chelsea and 38 for the national team. He has been shortlisted for the 2012 African Footballer of the Year award.

* Source african.howzit.msn.com/

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John Obi Mikel Starts Record Label
October 16, 2012 | 0 Comments

Chelsea and Super Eagles midfielder John Obi Mikel has taken steps to secure his post-football future by starting a record label.

He set up his Matured Money Minds (MMM) label with his brother Patrick, and has already signed four artists. Those artists are: Edgar, Perfect wikdyz, Splash, Charass and Jason ‘Kido’ Igho.

The 25-year-old, who started playing in England’s Premier League days after his 18th birthday, recently quit the social networking site Twitter due to racial abuse. Mikel was abused after he took to his @Mikel12Official account to apologise for a mistake he made against Juventus in the Champions League.

Mikel, who was born in the Plateau State capital Jos, has made 166 appearances for Chelsea and has 37 caps for the Super Eagles.

Mikel will run out for Nigeria on 13 October 2012 in Calabar for their 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Liberia.

*Culled from MSN Africa

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The Race To Brazil 2014 Gathers Steam
June 21, 2012 | 0 Comments

-Stiff Competition expected for available five tickets

By Zelifac Asong

Brazil 2014 is already around the corner. That is the FIFA world football jamboree organized every four years. After Africa’s first ever participation as host, it is once again Brazil’s turn to host the prestigious tourney for the continent of South America.

Eliminatory rounds have already begun in all the regional confederations. The CAF region is not left out. The CAF region is now playing the group phase of its eliminatories, after the knock out rounds played last November.

Forty African teams are taking part at this level. These teams have been divided into ten groups,           (A-J), consisting of four teams each. These forty teams are competing for five spots allocated to Africa in football world’s greatest competition. Already two playing days have gone by. The first playing day went from the first of June two thousand and twelve (6, 1, 2012) to the third of June two thousand and twelve (6, 3, 2012). The second day of play went from the ninth of June two thousand and twelve (6, 9, 2012) to the tenth of June two thousand and twelve (6, 10, 2012).

Though it is too early pick favorites, it is safe to say some teams have already made some very good results which give them an early advantage for the rest of the competition. Some players as well have also made good strides in the competition for number goals scored.

In group G, Egypt has taken a decisive advantage in its group which includes Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Guinea. The seven time African champion has positioned itself already as the team to beaten in the group. Already the pharaohs count six(6) points in two games making them the uncontested leaders in the group. Led by offensive duo, Aboutrika (2 goals), and Zidan (1 goal) they are already showing how determined they are to take part in this world cup.

Four time world cup participant, Tunisia has also taken the lead in group B. Edging out Sierra Leone which is second position with four points. The Eagles of Carthage have proven to prolific on the offensive, scoring five goals in two games .Jemaa, the lead scorer netting one for each game.  The  Tunisians seem set to walk over their rivals which include Equatorial Guinea and the Cape Verde Island.

Recent African champions, Zambia are placed together with Ghana, Sudan, and Lesotho. Sudan leads the group with four points.  They will find worthy contenders in the black stars of Ghana, whom on the first day of qualifiers gave inexperienced Lesotho a lashing (7-0). With the same number of points (3), as the as the Ghanaians , the Chipolopolo of Zambia are equally to watched in this group. They are young and eager. Coming off great African Nations Cup, which they won, their morale should be very good for the rest of the eliminatories.

Group A is led by Ethiopia with four points. This puts them ahead of the Central African Republic. South Africa is third, and Botswana cushions the group in the fourth and last position. Certainly the fight in this group will be between South Africa and Ethiopia.

The elephants of Cote D’ivoire sit comfortably at the top of group C with four points. Led by Drogba, the Ivorians are determined to appear in their second only World cup before this generation of very talented players quit the stage.  Tanzania trail them in second position. Sitting in third place with 2 points, the Atlas Lions of Morocco is mostly likely the team that will give “Les Elephants” a run for their money. Gambia is placed last.

In group E, we have the Congo (Brazzaville), Gabon, Burkina Faso and Niger. The Congolese lead the group with four points. They are followed by the Gabonese with equal number points. Burkina Faso and Niger are third and fourth place respectively with a point each.

With four points after the second day of play, the super eagles of Nigeria top group F with four points. Coming a close second are the Namibians, with three points, followed by Malawi with two points after two draws. At the bottom of the group lie the Harambee stars of Kenya, with a single point won. This might just be an interesting group to watch, as there seems not to be large difference in quality between the top three teams.

Group H is made up of Benin, Algeria, Mali and Rwanda. The squirrels of Benin top the group with four points. ‘les fennecs’ of Algeria and the Eagles of Mali occupy the second and third places respectively. The Wasps of Rwanda are seated at the fourth and last position. The battle in group H will most likely be between the Malian Eagles and desert foxes from Algeria. However, the Beninese might just spring a surprise if the others sleep on their laurels.

Group I is being led after two days of play by Libya, with four points. Coming second and third respectively are the Simba  of the DR Congo, and the indomitable lions of Cameroon. At last position is Togo. Six time world cup participant and four time African champion Cameroon do not seem to have solved the internal issues that have been plaguing the team now for many years. Though observers believe that they dominated the game against Libya during the second day of play, the lions were not able to  conserve a draw, as the let in a goal in the last minutes of the game. The absence of captain, and goal getter Eto’o, seems to be having  a negative effect on a young Cameroonian team which might just need experience. Then again the lions are never out until they really are. The DR Congo are having issues of their own, with some European based players, among whom are star player Lomana Lua Lua, refusing to go on camp in the country. They cite issues of insecurity.

Finally there is group J, made up of Senegal, Uganda, Angola and Liberia. The Teranga lions lead the group with four points. They are followed by Uganda and Angola with two points each. Liberia comes last with a point to their credit.

Some of the players who have stood out after these two days are Mohamed Aboutrika, Isaam Jemaa, Salomon Kalou and Choupo Moting. The veteran Egyptian forward showed that at age thirty-three, he has still got what it takes. Against Guinea on the second day, he scored two of the Pharaohs’ three goals as the won to make it two victories for on two matches. If his partnership with Zidan remains what it has been in the past, then Egypt are sure to qualify for Brazil 2014.

The Tunisian Isaam Jemma is also proving to be the force in the offensive play of the Eagles of Carthage. The Brest based striker netted in one in each of Tunisia’s matches.  Defenders are warned. Cote d’ivoire’s English based player Salomon kalou  equally two goals. In each against Tanzania and Morocco.

In the absence of star striker, and world’s highest paid player, Samuel Eto’o, who is out on suspension until august of 2012, a new generation of indomitable lions seem to be slowly assuming the responsibilities at the helm of the team. German born Cameroonian striker is proving to be player that will lead the lions attack in the years to come. The Mainz 05 forward has already netted in two for Cameroon. The lone  goal in Cameroon’s match  against the DR Congo, and Cameroon’s only goal as they lost two goals to one against the Libyan national squad.

It must be emphasized that these are the second round of qualifiers for the African region. The first round was played in November 2011. It pitted the 24 lowest ranked African teams playing knock out matches in a home and away format. The twelve teams which qualified joined the other 28 teams in the second round which will be played from the month of June 2012 to the month of September 2013.

At the end of second round, the first team in each group will qualify for the third round. This will round from the month of October to the month of November 2013. The first ten teams will play a 5 legged knock out round and the five winners will represent the African continent at the Mondiale in Brazil.

The next day of play for these ongoing qualifiers will be on the 22nd of march 2013.

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Barcelona FC backs bid to send one million e-books to Africa
June 21, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Tim Hume, for CNN*

London (CNN) — Stars from one of the world’s great soccer teams will be encouraging reading as part of a new project to put one million digital books in the hands of African children.

Spanish football team FC Barcelona — home to stars Lionel Messi, Xavi, Eric Abidal and Seydou Keita — joined forces Thursday with the non-profit organization Worldreader in a campaign to inspire a wave of literacy in sub-Saharan Africa through the use of e-readers.

Founded by David Risher, a former executive at Microsoft and Amazon, Worldreader works on the premise that e-readers, like Amazon’s Kindle, could help children in developing countries to “awaken their passion for reading, and improve their lives.”

“Worldreader is committed to putting a digital library in the hands of all children throughout the world’s developing countries, and we’re thrilled with the support of FC Barcelona to send one million e-books to students in Africa,” said Risher, Worldreader’s CEO.

The campaign is appealing for one million donors to each make a $5 contribution to help them reach their target of distributing one million e-books to 10,000 children in Africa. Because students bring home the devices and typically share their use with family members, friends and neighbors, it is expected the initiative will help put e-books in the hands of 50,000 people.

The e-readers will be distributed to children in Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda, where the non-profit is already operating, and soon in Rwanda, which is to become the next focus for the organization.

Football giant Barcelona will lend its weight to the campaign, with its stars sending messages via the e-readers to encourage students to read more and achieve their goals.

Worldreader believes technology can provide the best approach to encouraging literacy in parts of the developing world where books are otherwise scarce.

The program has motivated my students and instilled a joy for reading that never existed before
Jacqueline Abiso Dzifa, teacher, Kade, Ghana

Unlike traditional books — which had to be physically imported, one title at a time — a single e-Reader could provide a child with a vast array of current, relevant titles at a low distribution cost.

The increased access to reading material, it was believed, could broaden the way students think and develop their creativity by allowing them to go beyond the syllabus to follow their reading interests.

A year-long pilot of the program to 350 students in six schools in Ghana yielded promising results. Reading test scores for primary students participating in the program increased by 4.8% to 7.6% more than their peers who were not taking part, although benefits for older students were less clear.

The e-readers gave students access to a much greater variety of titles: 107, on average, as opposed to the between 3 to 11 books the average student had access to at home without the devices. They swiftly learned how to use the e-readers, despite 43% having never used a computer before.

“Worldreader has not only given us unparalleled access to books, the program has motivated my students and instilled a joy for reading that never existed before,” said Jacqueline Abiso Dzifa, a teacher at Presbyterian Primary in Kade, Ghana, whose students participated in the pilot.

The students relished their access to “a wide variety of classic and cutting-edge literature by renowned authors,” she said.

As e-readers provided a pathway into the digital world, many students also used them to read international news sites that would have been inaccessible previously.

Just one of the collateral benefits to the program was that students gained greater exposure to African writers, said Worldreader managing director and co-founder Colin McElwee.

The program was working with African publishing houses to digitize their titles and provide students with local, relevant content — which had positive impacts on local literary cultures.

“We want to digitize the curriculum, there’s a whole catalog of books you can digitize,” he said. “Once you digitize them, you can’t just sell them in Ghana or Kenya — you have a global market. So this is the first time African culture can be exported seamlessly, globally. That has an enormous impact on the potential of Africa over time.”

*Culled from CNN

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Beyond The Pitch: Insight Into The Lives of Former African Football Stars
May 12, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Zelifac Asong

Remember the world cup in 1974 and that record 9-0 bashing of the Zaire now Democratic Republic of Congo from the then Republic of Yugoslavia or the time when African countries were rated the under dogs at major international tournaments? Remember the time when there was no African name listed amongst the global stars of the game of football or when only a handful of professional players were able to ply their trade as professionals in the hugely mediatised and competitive European scene? Well football has taking the lead in the transformation of Africa. Africa is yet to win the world cup but African countries are today dreaded and Africans rank amongst the best talents in the world today. Hard to know of any soccer adept in the world today who does not know the Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o Fils or the Ivorian Didier Drogba.  These two and many others from Africa competing with the best around the world today owe their fame in part to the exploits of their illustrious elders like Roger Milla,Thomas Nkono and Francois Omam Biyick of Cameroon, Stephen Keshi of Nigeria, Kalusha Bwalya of Zambia, Abedi Pele of Ghana, George Weah of Liberia and many others. So what became of these glorious pace setters once off the pitch? The article takes a look at some of the activities of the old stars.

Talk about African football stars and one of the first names that comes to mind will be Roger Milla of Cameroon. The old lion mesmerized the world not only with his goals but with the dazzling dance in celebration at the 1990 world cup in Italy. Called from retirement, Roger Milla ended the tournament with four goals which saw an African side reach the quarter finals for the first time. He starred in a coca cola advertisement for the 2010 world cup as the originator or dancing when celebrating a goal. Roger Milla is today a Roving Ambassador in Cameroon appointed by President Paul Biya.He is an honorary member of the International Football Federation FIFA Executive body. He is also honorary President of the Cameroon football Federation and runs an NGO which helps to cater for the interest of retired footballers in Cameroon. Where there is near unanimity on his talents on the pitch, the same does not hold true for his off the pitch contribution trailed with layers of controversy. Not the most eloquent of speakers, he is constantly at logger heads with the football authorities in Cameroon. He has been vocal, sometimes too vocal of the management of football in the country and has been a thorn in the flesh of foreign coaches from Pierre Lechantre, to Winfried Schaffer, Otto Pfister and Denis Lavagne.

At the Seoul Olympic games of 1996, Zambia walloped Italy 4-1. It was a first of its kind victory especially in terms of goal margin for an African side over a European country. The main architect of this victory was Kalusha Bwalya. Lucky to escape the plane crash that decimated the Zambian National Team in 1994, Kalusha Bwalya is today the President of the Zambian Football Federation. After making Zambia a respectable football nation on the continent as a player, Bwalya continues to lead with brio as under his tenure as President of the football Federation, Zambia today boasts of its first continental title. It was an emotional sight when Zambia lifted the African Nations cup this year co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. With the finals played in Libreville Gabon, the victory was a befitting tribute to Bwalya’s team mates who died in the 1994 plane crash, coincidentally over the coast of Gabon. Zambia Football Association President Kalusha Bwalya basking in Glory after his country won the Gabon/Equatorial Guinea 2012 Nations CupBwalya is also a standing Committee member of the Confederation of African Football as well as the world governing body FIFA.

Big boss Stephen Keshi was a dreaded defender in his days as a player. The former Super Eagles of Nigeria Defender plied his trade amongst others with Belgian and European giants Anderlecht. As a coach, he earned further acumen when he qualified little fancied Togo for the 2006 world cup. The exploit however had a bitter ending as the Togolese fired him and brought in the German Otto Pfister to take the country to the world cup. The outing was a fiasco but many believed that with Keshi still at the helm, the Togolese will have had a better tournament. Keshi went on to coach Mali and qualified them for the 2000 Nations cup. He is today the coach of the Super Eagles of Nigeria where he is quietly working on a revolution with local talents getting the kind of chance that has been systematically denied them under previous coaches who relied solely on foreign based players.

Abedi Pele the emblematic Ghanaian footballer who was the first African to win the champions league trophy in Europe with French elite side Marseille today runs his own foot ball club. The club called Nania .F.C is designed with future hopes of nurturing the young talent to augment the fledging league of the country. Not long ago it was embroiled in a promotion play off –bribery scandal for which he was found guilty by the football association of Ghana. The allegations stemmed from a 31-0 victory of Nania Fc over Okwawu United. The guilty verdict attracted fines and suspensions for Abedi and others but were quashed by the Appeals Committee following irregularities in the initial judgements. The scandal aside, Ayew commands great respect across Africa for a career emulated by many. Africans were full of pride to see him shine in the Marseille side of Papin, Chris Waddle, Mozer, Boli; etc which was the best in Europe in the early 90s.In appreciation of his devout services to the country, the Ghanaian government awarded him the country’s highest honour the Order of the Volta. The first Ghanaian sportsman to be so honoured.

Abedi Pele in glasses presenting the BBC African Footballer of the Year Award to his son Andre.

Abedi Pele in glasses presenting the BBC African Footballer of the Year Award to his son Andre.

Nominated in 2001 to serve as Chairman of the football association .He later on passed on the opportunity to a more experienced person so as to gain some more experience he says. He is a member of FIFA’s football committee and of the players status committees of FIFA and CAF. The South African football Association had him as a spokesperson during its bid to host the 2006 world cup.

George Weah remains the first and only African till date to be named as FIFA World Footballer of the year in 1995.At the pinnacle of his career, King George starring for French side Paris St Germain was one of the most feared attackers on the planet. Weah who later starred for Italian giants Milan AC was a tremendous source of succor for his compatriots caught in the viciousness of a civil war. He ran unsuccessfully for Presidential elections in 2005 and lost to Ellen Johnson in the second round. Perhaps buoyed by the critique from some that he was not sufficiently educated, Weah went back to school and earned college degrees in the USA. In the 2011 elections, he ran for Vice President on Winston Tubman’s ticket. Watch out for Mr. George when he makes a third run when Ellen Johnson ends her last term in the next couple of years.

It will not be a surprise if Mister George becomes President of Liberia someday

It will not be a surprise if Mister George becomes President of Liberia someday

He just might be the first former footballer to become a Spresident. Weah has been known to be heavily involved in humanitarian courses and is UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

In 1992, Ivory Coast won the Nations cup hosted by Senegal. At the time, the country was a strong and prosperous country free from the ethnic cleavages and sinister politics that later plunge it into civil war. The man who had the honour of lifting the trophy for the Ivoirians was Gadji Celi Alain. Today a household name in music, many forget that before music, Gadji was a soccer star. His compatriot Francois Zahoui is today the coach of the Ivory Coast National Team. At the recent Gabon/Equatorial Guinea 2012 Nations Cup, the Zahoui led Ivorian National Team emerged runners up in what was considered a very disappointing outing .

Arguably the greatest goalkeeper Africa has ever produced; Thomas Nkono remains a reference for many in the continent and beyond. Juventus and Italian National Team Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, also a goalkeeper, declared he decided to play in that position after seeing Nkono’s performances at the 1990 World Cup. In addition, he named his son Thomas in the Cameroonian’s honour. Nkono has had stints serving as Goalkeeper Trainer for the Cameroon National Team and was at some point Assistant Coach.

Arguably Africa's greatest goalkeeper, Nkono remains inspirational to many

Arguably Africa's greatest goalkeeper, Nkono remains inspirational to many

He continues to be associated with Espanyol Barcelone of Spain, a side where he spent the bulk of his professional playing career.

Many other stars who graced the game in Africa have served or still serve as coaches, Christian Chukwu, Austin Eguavon, and Daniel Amokachi of Nigeria. François Oman Biyick of Cameroon whose header brought the Argentina of the legendary Diego Maradona back to planet earth at the opening game of the 1990 world cup was until last year the Assistant coach of Cameroon. The stint did not go so well as for the first time in recent memory, the Lions failed to make it to the Nations Cup.

It was not always easy for the African stars of yesteryears .Serious challenges were faced from racial barriers, to cultural differences and the general believe that African footballers could not be as good as the Europeans or South Americans for instance. These factors ultimately impacted on wages earned. Today, Eto’0 Fils is the highest paid footballer in the world. It is heartwarming as well to see that the same zeal with which some of them defended the colours of the continent is been emulated by their sons. Andre Ayew the son of Abedi Pele was instrumental in Ghana’s Quarter Final run at the 2010 world cup in South Africa. At the 2012 Nations Cup, he and his brother Jordan were part of the Ghana National team that made it to the last four. In a rare twist of history, both Andre and Jordan play for French side Marseille, the club which their father excelled in the 90s. In Gabon, Pierre Aubame Yaya has about three sons who have earned calls to the National Team. One of them Aubameyang was a major revelation at the recent Nations cup.

These monuments still have so much to contribute to the game and do not only need to be revered but also given the opportunities to be of share their knowledge and experience. Most of the top clubs in Europe are coached or managed by those who made the game what it is .From Platini who heads the Federation to Rummenige heading Bayern ,Blanc coaching France, Guardiola until recently serving as Coach of Bayern etc, . Without necessarily copying everything wholesale, even off the pitch African stars must be given the opportunity to continue to be of service to the continent. How about Kalusha Bwalya running CAF someday, how about Bell Joseph Antoine serving as Coach of Cameroon? Lucas Radebe serving as a club President in South Africa? If Africa is a power house in the world today, it is thanks to them and perhaps at the local level, their expertise will only help lift the continent to even greater heights.

Hard to wrap this piece without a word on the passing of two monuments within a week, Rashidi Yekini of Nigeria and Jules Francois Bocande of Senegal.

Yekini in green and Bocande will be fondly remembered by football fans

Yekini in green and Bocande will be fondly remembered by football fans

Both were players of the same generation and were amongst the best in their days with incredible goal scoring prowess.

At the 1994 world cup in USA, Yekini became the first player to score a goal for Nigeria at that level. There may be gone but the glorious contributions towards the international image of African football would remain a lasting legacy.

 

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