Hicham El Amrani is the Secretary General of the Confederation of African Football (CAF). He says CAF is satisfied with the performances of players at the just concluded African Nations Championship (CHAN), hosted by South Africa.
Unlike the African Cup of Nations, CHAN is for players, playing in the domestic league of African countries.
The first edition of tournament was held in Cote d’Ivoire in 2009, while Sudan hosted the second edition in 2011.
The third edition, hosted by South Africa this year, ended on Feb. 1, with Libya emerging as champions after beating Ghana on penalties.
Nigeria made her debut in the CHAN tournament in South Africa, and won the third place match after beating Zimbabwe 1-0.
El Amrani said that CAF was impressed with all the three editions of the tournament held so far, adding that FIFA has recognised CHAN.
“ This is so far a very good tournament for us. We look forward to maintaining a much higher attendance.
“ From the development perspective, this is what gives us the actual temperature of African football because everybody playing here is evolving within national leagues of their respective countries,’’ he said.
Mr Mvuzo Mbebe, the Chief Executive Officer, Local Organising Committee of the CHAN tournament in South Africa, said that the competition has helped to expose Africa’s home- based players.
“ The CHAN tournament is indeed a step in the right direction. Some of the players that took part in the third edition of the tournament are playing big time football for the first time,’’ he said.
Ian Gorowa, head coach of Zimbabwe national team, agrees with Mbebe, that the CHAN tournament has helped the home-based players to market their talents.
Gorowa also said that the standard of play was high.
“ I was surprised, to be honest with you, with the high level of standard displayed by the home-based players.
“ So, I think this is probably the best thing which has ever happened in African football .
“ We really appreciate, and we really appreciate that this will continue because it gives the local players that experience which they need to further their football career.
“ Once again, I must say, this is the best thing that has happened in African football,’’ Gorowa said.
Aisha Falode, the CAF Media Officer in charge of the Bloemfontein centre in South Africa, said the objective of organising the tournament had been met.
“ The overall goal of the tournament is to develop and strengthen domestic leagues in Africa.
“ And we can see that, that goal is being met, the objective is being met.
“ Without this competition in place, perhaps, all those players from around Africa who had the platform to play on the big stage, will not have the chance.
“ This was really for them. It was their show and they enjoyed it
“ I am sure by the next edition, Nigeria will be hungrier to perform in this competition,’’ she said
Chris Green, the Chairman, Technical Committee, Nigeria Football Association (NFA), said the association was impressed with Nigeria’s performance in the maiden outing.
Green said that the home- based players used the opportunity to express themselves, and prove a point that the Nigerian league had come of age.
He said though Nigeria won the third position, there was room for improvement in subsequent editions.
Other stakeholders also commended CAF for the incentives introduced for the home-based players in the tournament.
At the end of the tournament, Libya, the champions, went home with 750,000 U.S. dollars, while Ghana the runners- up, got 400,000 U.S.dollars.
Nigeria which placed third and Zimbabwe which came fourth, each got 250,000 U.S. dollars.
Teams that took part in the tournament received various sums of money ranging from 175,000 U.S. dollars to 100,000 U.S. dollars.
‘’ This is indeed a good motivation for home-based players, and it is hoped that more countries will show interest in the next edition of the tournament, Gorowa, stated.
For Nigeria, the maiden participation was indeed significant.
Ejike Uzoenyi of Rangers International FC of Enugu, was voted the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament, while Coach Stephen Keshi has identified players to be considered for Super Eagles’ Team A.
CHAN is an innovation which FIFA has acknowledged; it should be sustained in order to market African players, playing in the continent’s domestic league. (NANFeatures)
By Mike Mbonye