#Article (Archive)

The World Cup Arrives

Oct 8, 2009, 5:56 AM

Since the inception of the World Cup in 1930, no African nation has ever hosted it. South Africa has therefore made history as the first African host of the epic tournament. By mid next year, the world will converge in South Africa for the biggest event in football. The choice of South Africa is apt because it is most developed country on continent; it is in the class of Germany and Great Britain. Despite skepticism about the country's capability to host the event, we are confident that South Africa, the rainbow nation, will surpass expectations.

It is not only a South African affair; it is a matter of continental pride. That is why, Africans, regardless of nationality, are beside themselves with excitement as the FIFA Coca-Cola World Cup makes its graceful 52-nation tour around the continent with its final destination in the host country. The tumultuous reception it has received in The Gambia is an indication of the vicarious pleasure Africans derive from seeing with their own naked eyes the coveted trophy they have been seeing on TV and in newspapers.

And this perhaps will spur the African representatives to exceed the benchmark that has already been set by both Cameroon and Senegal. Both countries are on record as the only African countries to have reached the quarter-final stage of the World Cup tournament. It is our expectations that an African team should lift the trophy this time around. Without sounding overly optimistic, Ghana and the Ivory Coast look good enough to be worthy ambassadors of the continent at the World Cup tournament.

Africans players are making waves all over Europe, helping their teams to glory after glory. George Weah, the only African who has been named World Player of the Year, was simply the undisputed emperor of football in his heyday. Others like Kanu Nwankwo, Jay Jay Okocha, Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto'o, El Hadji Diouf, Seydou Keita, and Michael Essien have also brought pride and glory to the continent through their exploits in Europe.

The 2010 World Cup is therefore an opportunity for the galaxy of African stars to go beyond the call of duty to break the jinx of Africa's inability to win the World Cup. African nations have won the trophies at the junior categories. So there is no reason why the big boys of African football cannot win the big one. We have to show that Africa is capable of big things.

It is also our hope that the excitement that greets the arrival of the World Cup in Banjul will translate into real commitment to restoring our national team to winning ways. As a nation, we are yet to qualify for both the Nations Cup and the World Cup. We should therefore draw inspiration from this celebration of seeing the World Cup arriving in our backyard to redouble our national efforts to not only qualify for both tournaments but also to excel.

"Sports strips away personality, letting the white bone of character shine through".

Rita Mae Brown