By Patrick Omorodion
The Confederation of African Football, CAF, writing on its website during the week said â€œAfrica â€œat homeâ€, will be lining up some of the greatest talents it has ever fielded in the World Cup.
Six teams, (Algeria, Cote dâ€™Ivoire, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria and host South Africa),Â shall be representing the continent at the global soccer show piece in South Africa amongst which shall feature some of the biggest stars in Samuel Etoâ€™o of Cameroon and Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast.â€
Dissecting the six teams one after the other, CAF wrote about Nigeriaâ€™s Super Eagles thus: â€œNigeriaâ€™s only star is John Obi Mikel of Chelsea who is also in a fitness race for the event. The Super Eagles are still counting on the veteran Nwankwo Kanu who is expected to play the role of a wise man and leader of the dressing room who can create a surprise in the last 10 minutes of any game.â€
CAF seems to be listening to the voices of Nigerians, many who have been asking about Kanuâ€™s relevance at the event where countries are expected to showcase their best on current form and not on past records.
The continentâ€™s football body may also be thinking along the same line with Lars Lagerback whose thinking on Kanu may be a morale booster from the bench who offers some coaching advise while watching from the bench and coming in at the tail end of each game to pull a surprise.
Even the two-time African Footballer of the Year has had a conversation with his heart and have rightly said that he intends to quit the game after the World Cup because â€œI donâ€™t want to still be playing when Iâ€™m 50 years old.â€
On Cote dâ€™Ivoire, CAF wrote that â€œIvory Coast can boast some good players capable of providing vital passes like Yaya TourÃ© of Barcelona but Samuel Etoâ€™o has not got the same opportunity playing for Cameroon. Neither Xavi, nor Iniesta while he was playing for the Blaugrana or Sneijder with Inter are available.â€
It implies that Etoâ€™O might do double job playing at the World Cup for Cameroon than he does at the club side where he gets fed with balls to do damage.
Like Cameroon and Cote dâ€™Ivoire, CAF says Ghana are equally imbued with a star player in Michael Essien, even though he is struggling to regain full fitness before the World Cup kicks off.
According to it, â€œGhana on their part have that king of a player in Michael Essien, but the Chelsea hit-man and his club mate are still to be fully fit for the South African expedition even if they have been picked by their respective coaches. Ghanaâ€™s main strength lies in their collective play and dynamism from the Under 20 World Cup stars.
For the host, South Africa, who could be said to have had the best of preparation among the African flagbearers because they a have team on ground mainly because they have 19 home-based players named on the provisional list, CAF said they will be banking on their prodigal forward, Benni McCarthy, who falls in and out of favour with the authorities.
â€œSouth Africa will also be banking on Benedict Benni who won the Champions league in 2004 with Porto and who has played six world Cup games (1998 and 2002). But the player has not been that impressive lately and was even overlooked for the 2009 Confederations Cup, â€œ CAF wrote on its website.
Lastly, the Algerians who had a favourable decision from FIFA against Egypt over the attack on their team in Cairo last November during the week, were described thus:â€ Algerian would not be fielding any world acclaimed star and will be counting on the collective and tactical play that enabled them beat Egypt and qualify for the World Cup in the tense qualifying matches.â€