Sunday, July 21, 2024
Sunday, July 21, 2024
Home » AFCON DIARY: No North African team makes quarter-final as West African teams dominate

AFCON DIARY: No North African team makes quarter-final as West African teams dominate

by Myint Nyan
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“Abeg, you still get Goldberg for that your fridge?”

Peter my friend, the one I call “Football Encyclopedia,” called me on the phone on Wednesday afternoon, the day following the final Round of 16 matches at the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) taking place in Ivory Coast, and I knew he wants us to discuss the outcome of the quarter-final matches.

“You no even ask me if I don come back from work? Which one be whether I still get beer for house?”

“My friend gerrout,” Peter replied in his traditional coarse humour. “You don forget say me and you dey on Monday and you tell me say you no go go office and say you go dey house do your work on Wednesday?

Peter loves his Goldberg, and it seems that he is always in his football analyses element while clasping a glass in his hand.

I have known Peter for over nine years and have grown to love his personality, and because I also happen to enjoy my beer a lot more each time we are together discussing football, my answer was going in no other direction but in the affirmative.

“I dey house bro,” I responded to him.

Claiming he wanted to give me enough time to finish all I had to do, Peter arrived at 6.20 PM, and as soon as I answered the door, he went straight to the fridge to help himself with a can of Goldberg Lager beer.

“Do you know that the football map of Africa is changing?,” Peter asked as the swoosh sound from his direction announced that he had opened his can of beer.

“E be like say you no dey follow African football well well,” he retorted. “Did you not notice that no North African country made it beyond the Round of 16 in Ivory Coast? Dem don comot Egypt and Morocco, the two teams wey remain from North Africa.”

I knew it was going to be an evening of football history and, determined to soak it all up, I also made for the refrigerator for my helping.

“Things are changing,” Peter continued. This is very likely the first time that no team from North Africa made it to the quarter-finals of this tournament. They were always there. In fact, since AFCON started in 1957, the North African region has been dominant. They have won 20 of the 33 editions and never failed to make it to the quarter-finals.

“How the Democratic Republic of Congo was able to edge Egypt out and South Africa humiliated Morocco are developments that have surprised the world. Remember that Morocco was the very first team to qualify for this tournament, and they even beat this same South Africa by two goals to nothing during the qualifying group matches.

“Things dey happen for football. Morocco has appeared in AFCON 19 times, but has been stopped from progressing in the round of 16!

“African football has changed. You would not talk about African football without mentioning Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia, but today, new boys don dey enter ground. Look at Cape Verde; See Angola, Guinea, DR Congo, and even Mali; they are replacing the former big boys of African football.

“Na only Naija no just gree for anybody. See as we take Cameroon do yeye.”

At this stage, he laughed heartily, throwing lifting his legs and kicking them about excitedly in the air.

“Did you read about that their pastor that prophesied that Cameroon was going to beat us 3-1? I heard he said they lost because the coaching crew failed to take his advice. If na me be his congregation, I no go give offering again for church!”

“But how you see this Gabon that we are playing in the quarter-final,” I asked him. They might go for an upset and beat us, you know?”

“For where,” he responded. “Who dash monkey banana? Na because of all the big money they are being promised if dem beat Nigeria, abi na wetin? Abeg, forget that thing…,” he paused and dashed to the fridge for another can.

“Ah, chilled beer dey sweet o,” he said as he caressed the can in his hand, before taking a quick swig as he settled back on his seat.

“See, bros, “Angola cannot defeat the Super Eagles! Have you not seen the list of qualifiers for the quarter-finals? Out of the eight teams that qualified, five of them are West African countries, and Nigeria dey there. West Africa is the powerhouse of African football now, and Nigeria is the headquarters. That cup is coming to Nigeria. Go and write it down,” he said and belched satisfactorily as he set his beer on the small table in front of him.

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