Johannesburg - I know it’s as rare as seeing hens’ teeth to find everyone agreeing on one thing.
But I am as sure as I am of my name (as well as how it is spelt, which has been a nightmare for colleagues over the years) that yours truly and those who have been disappointed with the 31st Africa Cup of Nations under way in Gabon are not in the minority.
The quality (I’m using the word warily) of football that has been dished out so far, leaves much to be desired. In fact, let me hasten to be so bold as to say the kind of football being played out there does not deserve a place in the same sentence with the word “quality”.
It has been poor to say the least.
Besides the grade of football, what has made the Spanish La Liga, Premier League (England) and the German Bundesliga be on top of the pile of world football, is the number and quality (there is that word again) of goals that are scored week in and week out.
Many people have likened a match that ends in a goalless draw to being as exciting as watching paint dry while others have even gone a step further and said it’s like kissing your sister. Though I wouldn’t know anything about the latter, never tried it and don’t intend to in the foreseeable future.
That by Thursday evening, already six of the 12 matches played at the tournament had ended in stalemates, was a bad reflection on the championship itself.
It is a poor reflection on African football as this is where the countries from this continent showcase their skills.
It is the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF’s) jewel in the crown.
Thrusting power to Europe
But the football that is being played is not fit for an event that is celebrating 60 years of existence.
But then what can one expect from an organisation (CAF), that is led by a septuagenarian who has been at the helm since March 10 1988. And yes, your calculations are correct, that means he would have been in office for a good 30 years come March next year.
And you wonder why CAF has a tendency of taking one step forward and then 10 backwards.
We could have had an African heading Fifa by now but CAF decided to throw in their lot with an Asian, thus thrusting power to Europe once more.
Maybe, if we are honest with ourselves, such is to be expected from a continent where we have a president who refused to leave office after being voted out, with the incumbent having to be inaugurated in a foreign country.
We also have a nonagenarian who refuses to let go of the reins of power despite having run his country down over 30 years.
It is time that those in charge of African football revisited and meticulously listened to Bob Dylan’s 1964 ditty The Times They Are A-Changin.
The first stanza goes like this:
Come gather around people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
And if your breath to you is worth saving
Then you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changing.
Quite prophetic you will agree.
And, indeed, if the suits at CAF do not move with the times, they will find themselves “drenched to the bone” and eventually “sink like a stone”. And God forbid they take the game with them on their trip to the bottom of the sea or the depths of the earth.
It is my dream that one day, our children will be proud to take part in the Africa Cup of Nations.
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