Africa Nations Cup: The spectacle and the debacles

The euphoria of watching international stars descending on an African pitch and playing football is once again with us. After all, these are our stars and the truth is they should actually be entertaining us in all fairness.

Admittedly, fairness is overrated and that is why these guys spend most of their time entertaining Tony Blair, Beyonce, Shakira, Steve Harvey and other celebrities who might just have a problem with their names being quoted on an African tabloid.

The Afcon is a big deal here. Everyone gets involved including presidents. Presidents are known to become instant coaches in some countries. You will hear him (it is always a male president) say something like ‘if the coach does not include John Ballbender in his squad there will be no bonuses and his job is not guaranteed’). FIFA abhors this and have a special rule coined something like ‘no government interference in football matters’. Obviously it would be phrased differently from the way I have quoted here with more legal terms and a litany of terms like shall, notwithstanding, therein and some Latin terms just to make it more difficult to interpret. However, some African presidents operate on a FIFA-be-damned mode so Ballbender will be included.

The bewildered federation leaders are caught between the devil and the famed Bermuda Triangle but they know which side their bread is ‘margarined’. Forget the notion of eating both sides to get to the margarine. Ballbender will then make it into the squad.


If Ballbender somehow has a poor tournament, the blame will squarely fall on the coach and he will lose his job and leave to coach another country. Another African country! The law of European coaches is that once they get their first coaching job in Africa they will never go back. That is just the way it is. The competition itself is like a drama conference. Anything goes. From players threatening to eat up referees to opponents of host teams coming down with severe cases of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 is a West African strain which is very selective and knows not to infect the locals. The eminent scientists from the West have not discovered it yet so it officially does not exist in the COVID-19 list yet. Remember before it can legally and officially exist, it has to be sanctioned by the West. So we have had a situation where a team was forced to play without a goalkeeper because all the goalies had contracted COVID-19. And they were up against - you guessed it - the hosts! A COVID-19-inspired win ensued, needless to say. There was also a referee who failed to interpret a watch and ended a match prematurely. Twice in one game.

The referee seems to have a litany of ineptitudes longer than a COVID-19 vaccine queue. His infamy, however, seems to have followed him to Cameroon. But since we are a very compassionate continent and look after our own, instead of getting a suspension it was decided he had a sort of medical problem and was sent for medical treatment. Everyone looked for reasons to insulate his indiscretion. Some said it was the fury of the unkind African sun that had affected his abilities to understand a chronometer.

Some blamed the Math curriculum in his country for not including Time in their syllabus. It didn’t matter. What mattered was he had etched his name in the infamy folklore in those fateful 90 minutes, no, actually 89 minutes to be precise. When all is said and done, you get the feeling the spectacle does not have ‘that thing’ because the Zebras are not part of the whole thing.

But we do have referee Joshua Bondo blazing the glory trail in the match-officiating space. We just hope he too doesn’t suddenly come down with a case of poor time interpretation due to the fury of the African sun. (For comments, feedback and insults email [email protected])

Editor's Comment
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