Why 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 to worry.
Africa’s Best XI 2018
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 Mikel.
3rd place 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 all time.
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 year 2018.
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 change soon.
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 commercialization, 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 organized 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 top.
The outside world will not buy mediocrity and help fuel the full development of our talents. Time is running!