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Memories of Angola 2010

By Paul Bassey
As you are reading this, the final four teams and their officials, the remaining members of the CAF delegation, especially the CAF secretariat that will required to “ clean up “after the competition, will either be on their way home, or home already, depending on where your home is.

Take a Nigerian for instance who has to take South African Airways to Joburg and either pass the night or wait for about ten hours to make a connecting flight to Lagos. If you came by Ethiopian Airways, then you are flown to Addis before descending to Lagos.

Those of us who flew to Douala to join the CAF President in a chartered flight discovered that it takes only one hour to Douala from where you can connect Luanda in two and a half hours. Others have worst experiences, sometimes having to go to Europe before connecting either Cairo, Rabat or Tunis.

As you are reading this, the 17th Orange CAF Nations Cup is now history. Winners and losers have emerged, depending on who you are and your definition of “victor” and “vanquished”. There are a lot of Nigerians out there who believe there is nothing to celebrate a bronze medal that has become common place in our chest of trophies. Djibril Traore, a Malian goes mad. ““ give us the bronze and we will celebrate till day break…….”” He remembers that Nigeria has beaten Mali twice for the bronze and his country will definitely not mind one, even one.

The competition has come and gone and the Angolans are so relieved to have been the first Portuguese host of a competition that was nearly marred by the terrorist attack on the Togolese delegation. Angola is a proud host. The other day, I was talking about a President who attended all the matches his country played and believed it was unprecedented. With the ouster of Angola in the quarter final, I was pleasantly surprised to see President Dos Santos at the semi final match between Nigeria and Ghana. He was again present for the final, meaning that he attended all the matches at the Luanda centre. This, is a gold medal performance.

The Angolans will be credited for putting at the disposal of CAF first class facilities that can compete favourably with any of such in the world. I told Fernando Baptista , the Executive Director of the Lubango centre that the training pitches were even better than the stadiums and with capacities ranging from five to seven thousand, could host either the African Women Championship or the African U-17 competition.

So, what will happen to the facilities after the competition? How will Angola, a basketball crazy country sustain the excellent football infrastructure? The answer comes from Yaba Pedro Alberto, the Deputy minister, ministry of youth and sports of Angola. “We have deliberated on that extensively. We have decided to set up a consortium to run all the stadia. You don’t spend about two billion dollars putting up sporting infrastructure only to allow it to rot “ he said.

When minister Alberto arrive the Lubango centre to say fare well to the CAF delegation, he did also mention that CAF will be solicited to bring more competitions to Angola, apart from efforts that will be made to host regional events.

As you are reading this the country called Egypt is in a rapturous mood. Perhaps you do not know what it takes to win three Nations cups at a trot. What it means is that it may never be done by any country in a very long time yet, because that country has not even started, talk less of winning it for three consecutive years. Did I hear you say the Egyptians are not even done? Will not dispute that.

There is no doubting the superiority of the Pharaohs right from the beginning of the competition. I remember when news got to us that the Egyptians had dropped three key players because of injury and we were busy celebrating the absence of Zaki , Mido and Abou Treika. I said then, that this was a professional side that did not believe in names. Contrary to our own case when players like Yobo, Martins and Aiyegbeni, not fully recovered were made part of the Angolan train.

Two lessons. The first is the Egyptian lesson that includes the fact that you do not have to play abroad to be in the national team. The second is the Ghanaian lesson that says football is about youth. That a future must be created for our national team and that over dependence on old stars can wreak havoc.

No wonder Osaze and Obasi are the only Nigerians fit to be mentioned in the list of the best twenty two players of the nations cup. The Ghanaians were beaten but far from disgraced.

As we go back home, we must revisit the issue of our World Cup. Revisit it in such a way that we will not shot ourselves in the foot, just five months to the competition. Yes I have seen the Boras of this world loitering around Luanda looking for jobs. Once bitten, they say, twice shy. It is a pity that there is only one FIFA window between now and June, so we must find a way of injecting and blooding new legs.

The Nations Cup has opened Amodus eyes. He says he will invite new players. I say Amen, because he has no choice.
I thank God for the Nations cup, because it has opened our eyes to the reality of our situation and we are condemned to react accordingly less we become the laughing stock of the world in June.
Nigeria, here I come.


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