World Cup 2014 Feature: Africa’s Report Card
When the children got home and saw Papa Afrika seated in his cane chair, they knew instantly that they were in trouble. Nigeria and Algeria, the confident ones among the quintet who represented the family at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, naturally led the entry onto the corridor.
Dressed in his smock and drawing from his pipe, Papa looked well versed for the dressing down he was about to inflict on his “poor “children. “You two, (referring to Nigeria and Algeria), step to my right and Ghana, Cameroun and Cote d’Ivoire to my left” said Papa. In his typical “speak for yourself” disposition, Papa asked Ghana, Cameroun and Cote d’Ivoire to review their performance at the 2014 World Cup. One by one they stepped forward:
Before Cote d’Ivoire could utter a word, Papa butt in, “I am so disappointed in you; you were the most talented amongst your siblings. For many years you promised to bring me honour and silverware; many years you returned empty handed. You were showered with many accolades, but many years you flattered to deceive like a girl picked up in the evening. In previous years, I cut you slack because you were stationed in difficult groups; 2006 with Argentina, Holland and Serbia; in 2010 with Brazil, Portugal and North Korea. So when this year you were gifted Colombia, Greece and Japan, I started singing Hallelujah! “Adonai” was on repeat on my play list. I expected you to at least make it out of the group stage but once again, after beating the taekwondo boys 2-1, you limply gave into Shakira’s kinsmen by a similar score line. In the final group match, you allowed Apollo and Zeus to seize your concentration by allowing Greece to snatch qualification from you in the final minute because you were busy styling your “Jerry curls”. I have decided that you will need a private teacher to strengthen you in “mental”. Until then I rate your performance a “C”. Get out of my sight!
As for you, I am even more disappointed in you than Cote d’Ivoire whose “matriki-wu” qualities are well documented. Yes, I know you were in a very difficult group with Germany, Portugal and perennial nemesis USA. In the last 2 World Cups, you flew my flag proudly and made me proud when you were the sole African rep in the second round in 2006 and quarter final in 2010. Now, I know it isn’t a given that per your previous record you should have definitely made the semi-final, but I expected a heart on sleeve performance; a greater effort, so that even if you were eliminated, you could walk with your heads high. As we saw later, Portugal in the last game were as turgid as “Banku”, pretty much there for the taking for Ghana to collect 3 points after losing 2-1 to USA and drawing 2-2 with Germany. You fluffed that opportunity because you were not prepared, having stayed up late on match eve, counting your $100,000 appearance fees which you twisted my hand for. Yours is an “E”. I have not known you to be this recalcitrant, but I blame your senior brother Cameroun who was a terrible influence, where is he?
I am least surprised by your output; you are a classic case of good boy gone bad. After your quarter final feat in 1990, you have allowed that “feat” to get into your head and you have since done a bad job at leading your siblings by example.
I am not surprised you came back with zero points, indeed Brazil were magnanimous to have gifted you a goal in the final group game which you lost 4-1. It’s even alleged that you fixed the game you lost 4-0 to Croatia. Almost everything you touched this trip turned to charcoal.
First, you refused to board a flight because you wanted guarantees for your $104,000 appearance fee and then when you got to Brazil you retorted to “Shaka Zulu like” fights against opponents and even amongst yourselves on the field. Shame on you! Henceforth, you shall cease wasting time on body building and concentrate more on basic etiquette and social graces. Your rating is an obvious “F”!
Nigeria and Algeria
Nigeria, you met my expectation of making it out of your group, after all, it was only Argentina that was expected to pose you problems. You gave me a scare when you drew with Iran but the victory over Bosnia Herzegovina was enough. Just when we back home, thought you were building momentum, the smell of Ghana’s dollars travelled into your room and intoxicated you, so much so that, you also decided to revolt over bonuses. Predictably you lost focus against France and lost 2-0 in the second round game. It’s a “B” for you Nigeria because you could have done way better. Now Algeria; you were the least expected to do well, indeed you hadn’t won a world cup game since 1982 and hadn’t even scored a goal but you surpassed all expectations due to tactical and moral discipline you demonstrated in the tourney; you beat South Korea 4-2 and drew with Russia to qualify for the second round with 4 points. Unlike your siblings, you played with honour and heart. Africa is proud of you indeed! Relatively, your performance merits a “B+” for the best African performance.
On the whole, the collective performance was below average and the African game needs fixing but I will save that for another day, in the meantime, somebody fetch me some palm wine! Papa Afrika cried out … and the children scurried off.
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