Is AFCON Set To Make Or Break Africa?
Afcon is Africa’s most prized tournament, a meeting point for celebration of the “African brotherhood” every two years and, financially, it is a lifeline to Africa’s football.
Afcon gives the world the opportunity to discover Africa’s newest talents, their coaching development and also to discover the host nations, thereby being a vehicle for boosting much economically needed tourism.
Africa’s showcase football competition is in full throttle and we have seen some remarkable performances and memorable results. Egypt is back at its favourite tournament and till date is unbeaten, stretching its unbeaten run to 19 games.
Senegal, led by Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, is comfortably charging along and gradually looking like a contender with a local coach, Aliou Cisse, who tactically has his team well rounded and impressive.
Many other countries have impressed and some, like Cameroon, have ground their way into the quarterfinals but look better with every game.
Another exciting but unexpected development, though on the negative side, is the elimination of certain big houses. Gabon became the first and earliest hosts to be eliminated at the Afcon in I believe, 23 years.
Cote D’ivoire surprised us with an early and unexpected exit as defending champions, throwing questions at the rebuilding process of the national team after key retirements, like those of the Toure brothers, from the international scene.
With all these interesting developments one would think all would be happy and smooth running. But no, far from it. Internationally many are grumbling so loud they are threatening negative action.
Afcon is held every two years and, unlike the European championships that are held every four years, some feel it is too frequent and detrimental to the product value.
Furthermore, Afcon is held in January, depriving many clubs of their star African players, who are absent for at times as much as six weeks for the tournament’s benefit. Some key players have opted out of the Afcon this year, like Matip, to the benefit of Liverpool. Some Liverpool loyalists blame Liverpool’s diminished attacking success in recent weeks to the absence of club top scorer Sadio Mané.
At a time when immigration and globalisation are causing a serious stir in world economic debates, will this above-mentioned case not force these club sides to reduce or stop their African star players acquisition in the future? Or would this encourage them to employ players of African origin only with clauses that guarantees they skip the Afcon?
Should this happen this could definitely affect the quality of the competition and most definitely affect the value of the competition and the financial benefit it will bring to our dear continent.
The continued exportation of African talented and star players into Europe and the world in general is hugely beneficial to Africa, and this timing factor of the competition is probably worth revisiting.
A rescheduling to June could make a huge difference as it guarantees the availability of the players based abroad, does not require certain countries to put on hold their local leagues as the host country in most cases must do and countries with many players in their local African league.
Afcon is definitely important for us as Africans and every two years is, in my opinion, beneficial to us as a continent, but the timing needs revisiting because if there is one thing in life every wise man will advise you to embrace and expect in life for the interest of progress, is change and a change in the direction of harmony and quality guarantee could just do us a whole good and save our priced competition as we know it.