Is Africa’s football talent finally coming back home? [Football Planet]

More and more players of African descent in Europe are trooping back home. Most recently, Geoffrey Kondogbia (France) and Saido Berahino (England) completed nationality switches to Central African Rep

In this article, the word home is used to refer to Africa.



More and more players of African descent in Europe are trooping back home. Most recently, Geoffrey Kondogbia (France) and Saido Berahino (England) completed nationality switches to Central African Republic (C.A.R) and Burundi respectively. Other players like Gabon’s Aubameyang, Ghana’s Kevin Prince Boateng and Ivory Coast’s Wilfried Zaha who have made similar moves and by observation, that has become a curious trend.



It led the big (hypothetical) question; is Africa’s ‘muscle drain’ finally over? Nuhu Adams, a veteran sports analyst from Ghana joined us on call from Accra to share his comments. He said: “It’s not like they’re willing to come back but when they realize they can’t play for the countries they are in, that is when they opt to come play for their African teams. If Kevin Prince Boateng was aware he was going to be called up by Germany for the 2010 World Cup he would never have come to play for Ghana.



“Yes it’s good they are coming back but I can’t really say they are coming to play for Africa. That’s not the reality. The reality is that when they are ignored by those European countries then they turn to Africa because most of the african countries are always chasing for such players,” he said.



In a nutshell, Nuhu is of the opinion that their return has little to do with tracing back their roots, patriotism or even pan-Africanism. It’s more about pursuing and securing personal convenience.



Abdullahi Boru Halakhe, a Horn of Africa security analyst share’s Nuhu’s sentiments. He say’s in an article published on Aljazeera that most of the players switching to African national teams are doing so because they are unable to make the cut in Europe adding that it has a lot to do with intense domestic competition but also with increasing racism.

Biting graft and con agents at home



Halakhe further points out that African football will continue to struggle to retain talent, owing to poor governance, predatory and unregulated football agents and inadequate commercial incentives that have continued to push exceptional African players to leave the continent for Europe.



Few African football federations are managed professionally; corruption is rife with money meant for football development ending up in individual officials’ bank accounts.



The sheer number of African players playing in foreign leagues is one of the most notable trends in recent tournaments.



Corruption and poor management have stunted local leagues across Africa and discouraged fans from attending games. Predatory and exploitative “football agents”, who lure young boys with a promise to make them the next big thing in Africa’s football, have filled the gap left by the lack of adequate training schemes and academies.



A lack of regulation and inspection allows these con men to operate with impunity. They promise to sign young boys for famous clubs in Europe and take exorbitant fees from the boys’ families to secure these “deals”. Sometimes families sell everything they have to pay the agents because they believe their child will become the next Didier Drogba. In some cases, the agents disappear with the family’s savings before the boy even travels to Europe, in others the boy is taken to Europe and left there alone to fend for himself.



According to Charity Foot Solidaire at least 15,000 young football players are moved, out of West Africa each year under false pretences, but a lack of monitoring means the number of boys being trafficked abroad could be far higher.



As a result, international superstars like Senegal’s Sadio Mane and Egypt’s Mohammad Salah prefer to play for European football clubs, rather than staying in Africa and so the problem of allegiance persists.



Problem of allegiance



The sheer number of African players playing in foreign leagues is one of the most notable trends in recent continental tournaments. During the 2017 AFCON in Gabon, 368 players were involved and out of that number, 64% play their club football in Europe, just under a third play in Africa (28%), followed by Asia (6%) and the Americas (1%), according to numbers from Sportslens.



It’s also becoming increasingly rare to find home grown coaches on the sidelines in major African tournaments. At AFCON 2017 only four teams – Senegal, Zimbabwe, Guinea Bissau and the Democratic Republic of Congo – were led by African coaches, while most of the other 12 tacticians are European.



At the Russia 2018 World Cup, Senegal’s Aliou Cisse was the only coach from Sub-Saharan Africa and conversely didnt have any player in his 23-man squad that was playing in the local Senegalese league. The closes he came was having Khadim Ndiaye who plays for Guinean side Horoya AC. The rest ply their trade outside Africa.



Muscle drain will persist



Looking at the big numbers of players playing outside their home countries, it’s evident that the muscle drain is far from over and then another question arises; has this massive migration affected the African game?



Of course, when such a huge number of talented players showcase their talents away from Africa, the local leagues are left poorer. This makes it difficult to increase spectator numbers in stadiums except when the national team is playing and the star players are back in the country, as Professor Wycliffe W. Njororai Simiyu writes in The Conversation.



However, he says, at individual level the players are well rewarded for their talent and efforts. Additionally, individual players’ technical, physical, psychological, tactical and overall understanding of the game really skyrockets.



Such players tend to bring back home a positive influence on the national team. No wonder that most of the dominant African teams have the largest number of footballing “exiles”. It’s worth noting that when the national team does well, there is more inflow of cash from international governing body FIFA and also easier to attract corporate support.



The downside is that these star players tend to convert their home audiences to fans of the foreign leagues where they showcase their skills. With European leagues dominating the cable TV networks, most fans transfer their allegiance to foreign leagues and that contributes to reducing interest in domestic leagues.



This should be a wake-up call to those overseeing the African game – it’s time to value and treat players with maximum respect and reward them accordingly.



Mauritania secures historic Afcon qualification: who else is going to Cameroon?

The other teams that have qualified for Afcon 2019 include Uganda, Egypt, Tunisia, Senegal, Nigeria, Algeria, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Cameroon, Madagascar and Mali.

Mauritania secured a historic maiden qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) on Sunday, when they beat Botswana 2-1, to guarantee a top two finish in Group I.

The North-West African nation of at least 4 million inhabitants erupted with celebration as Moctar Sidi El Hacen and Ismail Diakite scored to clinch a sensational comeback, having conceded first courtesy of Keeagile Kobe’s strike for Botswana.

Mauritania joins Madagascar, who will also be making their tournament debut at Afcon in Cameroon next year.

READ MORE: Madagascar heads to AFCON 2019 after historic qualification

Also qualified

Madagascar and Mauritania are among 14 nations that have so far qualified for the tournament, that will feature 24 teams for the first time.

The hosts Cameroon secured automatic qualification.

The other teams that have qualified for Afcon 2019 include Uganda, Egypt, Tunisia, Senegal, Nigeria and Algeria.

Guinea, Ivory Coast, Morocco and Mali have also secured their qualification.

Results

  • South Sudan (2) vs Burundi (5)
  • Egypt (3) vs Tunisia (2)
  • Morocco (2) vs Cameroon (0)
  • South Africa (1) vs Nigeria (1)
  • Comoros (2) vs Malawi (1)
  • Uganda (1) vs Cape Verde (0)
  • Gabon (0) vs Mali (1)
  • Namibia (0) vs Guinea-Bissau (0)
  • Equatorial Guinea (0) vs Senegal (1)
  • Gambia (3) vs Benin (1)
  • Seychelles (1) vs Libya (8)
  • Madagascar (1) vs Sudan (3)
  • Congo (1) vs DR Congo (1)
  • Mozambique (1) vs Zambia (0)
  • Eswatini (1) vs Niger (2)
  • Rwanda (2) vs Central African Republic (2)
  • Ethiopia (0) vs Ghana (2)
  • Togo (1) vs Algeria (4)
  • Angola (2) vs Burkina Faso (1)
  • Liberia (1) vs Zimbabwe (0)
  • Lesotho (1) vs Tanzania (0)
  • Mauritania (2) vs Botswana (1)
  • Guinea (1) vs Ivory Coast (1)

Uganda defeat Cape Verde to qualify for AFCON 2019

Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) football club striker Patrick Kaddu’s brilliant header with 13 minutes left on the clock broke the hitherto modest Cape Verde resistance

Uganda sealed its place in the prestigious Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals due in Cameroon next year with a 1-0 win over Cape Verde in Kampala on Saturday.

This will be Uganda’s seventh appearance in Africa’s biggest footballing tournament since 1962.

Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) football club striker Patrick Kaddu’s brilliant header with 13 minutes left on the clock broke the hitherto modest Cape Verde resistance. The Cranes only needed a draw to qualify.

The result confirmed Uganda Cranes on 13 points and the first country to book their slot in group L. On Sunday, second placed Taifa stars of Tanzania play Lesotho in Maseru. A win would move them to eight (8) points and a chance at qualification. Lesotho sit at the bottom of group L with two (2) points. Cape Verde have four (4) points after five (5) matches.

Uganda has not conceded a goal in the campaign.

Mali, Morocco and Nigeria also qualified for AFCON 2019 on Saturday.

AFCON 2019 qualifying weekend: Salah's Egypt, Burundi and Morocco win

Madagascar, Senegal and hosts Cameroon have also qualified for the 2019 Cup of Nations, the first to feature 24 teams, and another 15 countries could secure places this weekend.

Burundi, Egypt and Morocco won their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier matches on Friday, extending their chances of qualifying for the continent’s biggest football tournament.

Cameroon, who will be hosting the 2019 AFCON were also in action, but lost (0-2) to Morocco.

Salah inspires Egypt win

Liverpool forward, Mohamed Salah scored his fourth goal of the qualification campaign, to give his nation a win in the final minute of the game against Tunisia.

While both teams have already qualified for the 2019 AFCON, Egypt’s win at the 86,000-seat Borg el Arab stadium in Alexandria, ended Tunisia’s 100 precent record. The North Africans had beaten Egypt at home, eSwatini away and Niger twice.

Victory brought Egypt level with Tunisia in Group J on 12 points, but the losers retained first place on head-to-head records.

Burundi win

Meanwhile, Burundi climbed above Mali and Gabon to top Group C with a 5-2 win over South Sudan in Juba, where Fiston Abdul Razak scored four goals for the visitors.

Burundi have nine points, Mali eight, Gabon seven and South Sudan none with the second and third-place teams meeting in Libreville Saturday.

The top two finishers qualify and a Malian victory over Gabon would assure them of a place at the June 15-July 13 tournament in Cameroon.

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Saturday fixtures

  • South Africa vs Nigeria
  • Comoros vs Malawi
  • Uganda vs Cape Verde
  • Gabon vs Mali
  • Namibia vs Guinea-Bissau
  • Equatorial Guinea vs Senegal
  • Gambia vs Benin
  • Seychelles vs Libya

Madagascar, Senegal and hosts Cameroon have also qualified for the 2019 Cup of Nations, the first to feature 24 teams, and another 15 countries could secure places this weekend.

AFCON 2019: CAF confirms Cameroon as hosts

Somalia's first boxing tournament in 40 years held

Somalia’s capital Mogadishu has suffered years of explosions killing several and regularly claimed by armed group, al-Shabab.

This is the first time in 40 years that Somalia is holding a boxing tournament.

Years of insecurity and uncertainty meant the sport was relegated to the background.

“The reasons we are organizing this boxing tournament after 40 years may include the fact that the country’s situation is better, whether in terms of security or politics, we think there is a real change’‘, said Awil Gelle Ahmed, Second Vice President of the Somali Boxing Federation.

For locals, the contest is a sign of good things to come. They are hopeful that more young people will take part in the sport.

“I love boxing so much and my coach made me fall in love with this sport to be a well-known boxer”, said Somalian boxer, Kashmir Abdirahim Abdalla.

“Today, I am very happy with this tournament, something we have been missing for many years, and we hope the tournament will produce more boxers’‘, said Mohamed Ahmed Abdullahi a spectator.

Recently, Somalian born Ramla Ali represented her native Somalia in the International Boxing Association Women’s Boxing World Championships, becoming the first boxer to do so.

Many years ago, Ali’s family fled Mogadishu after her brother died due to a grenade explosion outside their house.

The family sought asylum in England after a first stop to Kenya on a rickety cramp boat, according to firstpost.com.

Somalia’s capital Mogadishu has suffered years of explosions killing several and regularly claimed by armed group, al-Shabab.

Djokovic stuns Zverev at ATP finals

He will advance into the last four of the season-ending tournament for the eighth time if John Isner beats Marin Cilic in the evening session

World number one Novak Djokovic produced a rock-solid performance to dismantle the challenge of German firebrand Alexander Zverev at the ATP Finals on Wednesday (November 14).

The Serb, 10 years older than his opponent, was made to work hard in an absorbing first set but Zverev’s challenge crumbled at the O2 Arena as Djokovic won 6-4 6-1 to move within sight of the semi-finals.

Five-times champion Djokovic, who will end the year as world number one for the fifth time in his career after a storming second half of the season, leads the Gustavo Kuerten group with two wins and is yet to drop a set.

He will advance into the last four of the season-ending tournament for the eighth time if John Isner beats Marin Cilic in the evening session.

All seven round-robin matches played so far this week have been won in straight sets, but for a while it appeared as though the crowd would be given full value for their ticket.

The 21-year-old Zverev, who has a Tour-leading 55 match wins this year, went toe-to-toe with Djokovic from the baseline and looked to have the firepower to worry his opponent.

Djokovic netted a routine forehand when serving at 4-4 30-30, offering Zverev a break point that he did not convert.

Djokovic then double-faulted to give Zverev another chance to serve for the set but this time the German went just wide with an attempted lob after the Serb ventured into the net.

The net game always looked dangerous for Zverev and so it proved as he double-faulted to concede the set.

Zverev looked deflated and despite holding serve for 1-1 he offered no more resistance as Djokovic won five games in a row to seal his 33rd win in his last 35 matches.

His final group match is against Cilic while Zverev will hope to bounce back against Isner.

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