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Fans deserve better from African teams

When South Africa was awarded the right to host the 2010 Fifa World Cup™, Africa celebrated. Hopes were high that Africa’s turn had finally come to have a bigger say in the World Cup. Others went on to say the trophy would remain in Africa.

We danced and shouted, saying Africa’s turn has come. We were hopeful, more than hopeful. We believed that our players would finally lay their claim in the world football stage. We were determined to rally behind them until the bitter end.

Months before kick-off, tickets went on sale all over the world. African supporters went out in numbers to purchase their tickets to ensure they became part of history and they were still hoping for a better showing by African teams. Thousands spend sleepless nights queuing for tickets in different centres.

They never gave up hope that our teams would take advantage of ‘home ground’ advantage.

Things started well with so much promise, with Bafana Bafana starting positively against Mexico. Then hope was soaring. An opening goal by Siphiwe Tshabalala gave a much-needed boost to the nation. Even though the team lost two points we felt it was still early days and that the team would improve as the tournament progressed.

What followed later was not encouraging. The Super Eagles of Nigeria failed to take off against Argentina. We were disappointed but still hopeful that they would recover. Our hopes were soon dashed when Nigeria lost their second game against Greece. Taking an early lead we expected an improved performance, which never came. Now the Super Eagles are on the verge of elimination in the group stages.

Cameroon and Algeria followed Nigeria with opening losses to Japan and Slovenia respectively.

What really gets to me though is that with all the support we have given these teams, they fail to deliver. Everywhere they played the support has been amazing. I was touched after Nigeria’s loss when one supporter said she travelled all the way from London to come and lend her support to the Super Eagles. She will in all probability go back to London disappointed, because it is looking unlikely that Nigeria will make it to the next round.

The players have really let us down. Nothing seems to motivate them. There seems to be an issue with discipline in most teams. How does one explain the red card of Sani Kaita? It was totally unnecessary. It contributed to the team’s meltdown.

Player power could also be at work. It was disappointing to hear some Cameroonian players criticising the coach’s selection in the media. This does not add anything positive to team spirit, instead it divides. Can you trust them to play for the coach? I doubt it. If not for the coach do it for Africa. No wonder we have so many disinterested players there on the pitch. Fans are getting a raw deal.

Our only hope now is Ghana. After watching their game at Loftus I was impressed. They played as a unit. Even when their captain, Stephen Appiah, was not included, those who were playing took their chances. Those boys showed maturity beyond their age. Watching them complementing each other smiles during the game was refreshing.

Not taking anything away from Ivory Coast, they were not convincing in their opening match against Portugal. Maybe with captain Didier Drogba back in the starting eleven against Brazil we will be smiling again.

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