- North Africa
- Cameroon - Ghana - Ivory Coast - Nigeria - South africa
As the World Cup quest grips, who are the African players to watch?
Eto’o, Bougherra, Gyan, Ayew, Belhadj, Pienaar, Kanu, Martins... Big names, big games.
Could an African team actually win the first African World cup? Why not? The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, the Nigerian Eagles, The Black Stars of Ghana, the Desert Foxes of Algeria, the mighty Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa’s devoted Bafana Bafana will represent the African continent in the world’s prestigious football tournament ever organised on the African soil.
Cameroon is the only African country that brought the continent as far as the quarter finals of the 1990 World cup but this year the prodigal son of the continent Samuel Eto’o promises even more. An idol in Africa, Eto’o has been thrice African footballer of the year and netted nine qualifying goals. He has had a very successful career with great European teams like FC Barcelona and just won the Champions League with Inter Milan, bagging an incredible back-to-back continental treble (League-Champions’ League-Cup). He is currently the highest-paid player in the Italian league. With his agility, speed and explosive driblings there is no doubt the Cameroonian maestro wil give many defenders hard time. He is offensive and defensive as well so all in all Eto’o is a dependable player and worthy to watch for as the World Cup rolls up on June 11th.
Ivory Coast is another African team with the most accomplished players performing at a high level in the European Leagues. With Didier Drogba probably ruled out due to injury, many young talented players still fill in the Elephants team. Not to mention the likes of midfield maestro Yaya Toure and Chelsea’s Solomon Kalou as well as Yaya’s brother, Kolo, the Ivorians have one of the most experienced players in this World Cup.
The Black Stars of Ghana are boasting some of the finest and youngest players in this World Cup. 24 years Asamoah Gyan of Rennes in France and the 20year Andrea Ayew Pele (AC Arles-Avignon) will be the players to look out for. They are both young and very motivated, currently in high perfomances both at their clubs and their national team. The continent will be looking up for such young talents as the dream team.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria have a wealth of talent to harvest from. With Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel down, Obafemi Martins will star as one of the strongest strikers in the tournament that will keep most defenders on their tip toes. Nwankwu Kanu (Portsmouth) the 33 year old Nigerian captain will dwell so much on his experience and canny style of play as he leads his country to the long awaited dream ever.
Algeria has seen its pre-tournament session riddled with injuries. B ut the Fennecs can count on Rabah Saâdane to use his experience and help Portsmouth’s Nadir Belhadj or Wolfsburg’s Karim Ziani cause a few upsets in South Africa. With Mourad Meghni (Lazio) out due to injury, Madjid Bougherra, the Rangers defender, will be Algeria’s main player. Dubbed "Magic" by the fans, he imbodies the team with his never-let-go spirit and will to fight.
And this is it, this is the time, its now or never for South Africa’s Bafana Bafana. As the host nation they will enjoy all the home support. With very motivated players, Steven Pienaar (28) is in red hot form. He was voted player of the season at his English club Everton. Not a prolific scorer himself, but he excels at serving up goal opportunities for strikers and when the vuvuzelas will be roaring then it will be hard to under estimate the perfomance of such a player.
With the exception of war, nothing brings out a shared sense of national identity, of almost family belonging, like international soccer competition. As the 2010 World Cup roll up the African continent will put all its eyes on its prodigal sons to bring home the first ever organised World Cup on the African soil.