Africa’s Best XI is Worrisome
Last week, Africa celebrated our best footballers for the
year 2018 and it was extremely pleasant to follow and at the same time gave us cause
Below is Africa’s best 11
As a Nigerian I am extremely concerned and for the interest
of the future, as a Nation, we should be worried too.
Mohammed salah is in my opinion an unanimously accepted and
deserved winner of the 2018 CAF player of the year award.
Salah is in my opinion, the nearest thing we have today to
the Lionel Messi’s and Cristiano Ronaldo of world soccer.
In the past, Nigeria has won this Prestigious Award 5 times:
The Late Rashidi Yekini, Kanu Nwankwo, Emmanuel Amunike and Victor Ikpeba.
Runners up 6 times: Emmanuel Amunike, Jay Jay Okocha, John Obi
7 times: Sunday oliseh, Jay Jay Okocha, Daniel Amokachi, Taribo West, Rasheed Yekini
and Vincent Enyeama.
An impressive total of 18 times on the podium in 27 years of
Awards. Overall 5th best of
It’s been 4 years and we have not produced a representative
on the podium. Though it is particularly alarming to us Nigerians, it is even
more worrisome as a continent when a closer look is gazed at the best 11 of the
Of the Best 11 voted players of 2018, 6 of them are
influential and 1st choice players in their respective club sides!
What this arguably simply means is that our best is probably
no longer considered by the western world, as the best on the world scene.
On the other hand, we can rightfully argue that it is not so
bad, judging the fact that we, Africans can boast of finally once again having
one representative on the podium of World’s best players, in Mohammed Salah.
There was a time not too long ago, when every champions
league evening, African players were littering the screen for top African clubs
and influentially too. At times simultaneously in: George Weah, Kanu Nwankwo, Finidi
George, Tijani Babangida, Samuel Eto’o, Rigobert Song, Samuel Kouffour, Benni McCarthy,
Sunday Oliseh, Marc Vivien Foe (R.I.P), Victor Ikpeba, Emmanuel Amunike etc
Today, as a Nigerians, we do not boast of one Regular 1st
choice player in a Champions league team!
Many will wonder why the decline? Well the reasons are
numerous and if not addressed soon, it could get really worse!
One of the most possible ways of getting our top players to feature
influentially in top European clubs, is to excel at top major international tournaments.
Most importantly, the FIFA World Cup!
As you may recall, not one African representative Nation,
made it to the second round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Top clubs buy and plan with players who mostly excel at the
international level. They can easily defend not only the purchase but also the
player is marketable commercially too.
Just barely ten years ago, top African nations like Nigeria
did not ecstatically celebrate world cup or AFCON qualifications, but rather celebrated
the winning of the AFCON or qualification to the 2nd round of the world cup.
The former scenario is what we have today and that needs to
Footballers’ progression and the progression itself puts
food on the table for hundreds of Millions of people in Africa, directly for
the actors and indirectly for people who make a living off the commercialisation,
broadcasting etc of the sport.
To create an upward trend in the quality of players produced
and exported by the African countries, there has to be a deliberate, conscious
and strategical improvement in the local leagues of these nations.
African nations in general and Nigeria in particular need to
stop being content with the minimum and at times mediocrity.
In a few months, the CAF organised AFCON 2019 kicks off, we
need to put up a big qualitative show, technically, tactically and physically
to start changing the downwards trend and start climbing back to the towards
The outside world will not buy mediocrity and help fuel the
full development of our talents. Time is running!