Sports

Francophone African Soccer Players Gain Supremacy

25 November 2014 at 22:13 | 8137 views

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By Koyie Mansaray, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

Out of 28 African Cup of Nations tournaments organized between 1957 and 2013, Anglophone countries have won 18.* The remaining 10 have been won by our Francophone counterparts. This fact notwithstanding, Francophone African countries are gaining an increasingly more dominant role on the world soccer stage than their Anglophone brothers. There are more Francophone soccer players in Italy in Europe and North America than Anglophones.

In my opinion, one main reason that has provided a major boost to the growth of African Francophone soccer is the willingness of many Francophone countries to make the sacrifice by organizing the Afcon tournaments.

Since Côte d’Ivoire in 1984, Senegal in 1992, Burkina Faso in 1998, Mali in 2002 ,Tunisia in2004 and Gabon together with Equatorial Guinea in 2012, all organized the cup of nations, they have experienced a big boost in producing local soccer talents. This is so, because the tournaments create the ideal arena for show-casing local talents soccer scouts come to make their pick from. If anything, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Mali Burkina Faso and Gabon have made a lot of soccer progress from the time they hosted a major soccer tournament like Afcon. Also, like their "colonial master", France, the Francophone countries strongly believe in obtaining national glory at sporting competitions. This partly explains why they have set up football academies, both public and private for the nurturing of young soccer talents. Sporting competitions are therefore well organized in these countries with the host nations always determined to win.

Most Anglophone countries, on the other hand, are torn apart by internal bickering. Even when the facilities are available, they are left to rot or put into the wrong use, like the Sierra Leone soccer academy sponsored by FIFA, which is used mainly as a Leone Stars training camp. This partly explains why Guinea (Conakry), even though banned to host home matches because of the Ebola outbreak, could endeavor to make better arrangements to host her three matches in Casablanca in faraway Morocco, overcoming all the odds and eventual qualify for the 2015 Afcon tournament in Equatorial Guinea.

On the other hand, Nigeria, an African soccer powerhouse by any stretch of the imagination, could not make it, not for lack of soccer players or of a good coach but due to self-created off-the-pitch feuding within the FA.which left one of the most gifted coaches feeling that there was a sword of Damocles hanging over his head. No one should expect Stephen Keshi to perform a miracle under such circumstances.

We should therefore not be surprised when we see for a 16-nation tournament, 10 of them are Francophones: Algeria, Burkina Faso,Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire,Gabon , Guinea, Mali, Senegal and Tunisia all belong to the Francophone sphere. Only Ghana, South Africa and Zambia are there to hoist the Anglophone banner in Equatorial Guinea.

Indeed, African soccer is fast on the way to gaining Francophone supremacy.

* The four victories of Cameroon, a bilingual country, in 1984,1988,2000 and 2002 Tournaments are included.

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