Such has been the under whelming appeal of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations that I half expect the champions to be crowned amidst no fanfare at all tonight.
With a third week of empty stands, sandy pitches and catnapping dignitaries high up in VIP, I would not be shocked if the closing ceremony was rushed through with promises to ‘DHL’ the trophy, just so everyone can quickly banish memories of the shambles and get on with their lives.
To be fair, this was only ever going to be a bonus tournament whose main objective was to aid the switch to odd years so as to avoid congestion in World Cup years.
But also, by delivering its contestants via an instantaneous two-legged knockout contest it lost the clout associated with a proper tournament league format contested over a period of time.
So there was always a quick fix nature about Afcon 2013 that seems to have lent it an air of artificiality hence all the disinterest.
I guess it is easy to speak like this if you are not at the tournament like Uganda, but I prefer not to sour grape here. I am talking about the very low attendance figures in South Africa which was common enough, and much more – the overall fan apathy.
Right from the big cats in the VIP seats and their bleached companions who gave the impression they would rather be in Cairo at the CAF head office counting their money, to the restless pub pundits who opted to watch Manchester City and Liverpool over a West African derby Afcon quarterfinal, the amount of disregard was telling.
Such matters aren’t helped of course when the tournament arrives too quickly on the heels of the much more romantic event of 2012 at which the Zambians charmed us all. Neither does the early exist of hosts South Africa and Ivory Coast’s golden generation of eternal favourites improve matters.
Still, you would expect a tournament to have its share of drama and revelations but I am afraid Afcon 2013 will go down as one that failed to ignite.
There was no revelation in say the way Mali 2002 announced El Hadji Diouf.
There was no team that lit up the tournament like Algeria did in 1990 or Senegal in 2002 or Egypt in 2008.
Heck, even the West Africans (whose diet must be studied and adopted by East Africans) storming power of old was missing.
You could blame it on the absence of Cameroun and Senegal, but a proper Afcon tournament should still have a couple of specimen in the mould of Patrick Mboma or Raymond Kalla and not the hosts Siphiwe Tshabalala or Burkina Faso’s Jonathan Pitroipa.
I guess what I am trying to say here is that a tournaments character is defined as much as by its football as by how much we the fans perceive all those little things that surround a football game like drama, skill, and sheer entertainment value. And to that extent it has been quite hard for me to point out, anything of note at Afcon 2013.
Even the initial spark of Ethiopia and debutants Cape Verde fizzled out too badly. It seems nothing was destined to impress at this drab affair.
By Moses Banturaki, Uganda’s Sunday Monitor