|Tuesday, December 20, 2022|
" Hard work is no guarantee for success, but it's usually the absolute minimum needed for success" Cyril C. Nwokeji
t the just concluded 2022 FIFA World cup competition, in my considered opinion, there was one 'morally' just winner: Africa!
The Argentinians certainly went away with the much-coveted trophy, but that notwithstanding, Africa , in my considered opinion, are the 'moral' winners; because the African continent was disadvantaged in a number ways with regards the other competitors:
Africa was relatively under-represented, taking into consideration her sheer representation in the comity of FIFA members and her soccer strength and standards over the years;
Africa has one of the least developed soccer infrastructures of the member organisations of FIFA, due to obvious reasons;
Africa has always been relatively 'marginalised' with regards other FIFA members. For example, African teams are easily ''robbed' of some of their brightest and best soccer players, at the slightest excuse, by the clubsides that pay their wages, at International tournaments. The players of other member nations of FIFA, are treated with much more respect;
African teams, even at the just- concluded World cup competition, were victims of unfair officiating, even with the introduction of "VAR" technology in arbitration.
One can go on and on with examples of relatively less- than- honest treatment of Africa, at the global soccer stage.
However, notwithstanding, the 'obstacles' laid on the path of Africa, both man-made and circumstantial, Africa, continues to prove herself at the highest global soccer stage.
The compensation for Africa's continued improved performance, by FIFA, at the World cup, has been few and far between in comparison to what Africa deserves.
At this stage of Africa's soccer development, five soccer teams at the highest global soccer show piece, are insufficient. Africa needs at least ten representatives, in my considered opinion!
It is not likely FIFA in their 'benevolence' would be that 'generous'. A lot of selfish factors on the part of FIFA, would certainly militate against Africa's chances.
Anyhow, regardless of how they adjudge the situation with regards Africa's further participation at the World cup competition, FIFA, certainly cannot escape increasing Africa's participation at the highest global soccer show piece event, after the latest scintillating performances of the great / magnificent "Atlas Lions" of Morocco and the other African representatives!
The "Atlas Lions" of Morocco, did marvellously well, at the 2022 World cup competition. In continuing/extending the African success story at the World cup, they raised the bar for Africa's success, to a first ever: Semi-final appearance!!!!!
The semi-final appearance eluded Africa narrowly in previous editions of the World cup: in 1990, through Cameroun, that narrowly lost to England, 3-2, in extra-time; in 2002, through Senegal that also lost in extra-time, 1-0, to Turkey and in 2010, through Ghana that lost on penalty shoot-outs to Uruguay, after both teams remained deadlocked, 0-0, after regulation and extra-time.
The loss of Ghana to Uruguay , in 2010, was much more painful considering how close the Ghanaians were to victory , and, conseqeuntly, to the semi-finals! It took the unorthodox intervention of Luis Suarez, to deny the Ghanaians and, consequently, Africa, their deserved victory!
As soon as they qualified for the knock-out stage, there was no stopping them. As 'heavy weight' teams like: Spain and Portugal, were overwhelmed by the Moroccon soccer dominance. Even the great Cristiano Ronaldo, couldn't inspire the Portuguese to victory against Morocco!
The Moroccans not only defeated Portugal, but, apparently, sent Cristiano Ronaldo to an inglorious retirement. Cristiano Ronaldo(CR 7), would have loved to retire in style like Messi, with a World cup soccer diadem. But the Moroccans, and by implication, Africa, stood in the way!
A first time, African soccer semi-final appearance, was, thus, inevitable, at the highest global soccer show piece event!
Congratulations to the " Atlas Lions " of Morocco and congratulations to the continent of Africa, for this soccer 'primeur'!!!!!!
The Moroccan team was fantastic, with great players like : Goalkeeper Bonou, Ziyech, Bousal , Sais, Amarabat, Ounah, Amallah, Ait-et and the other fantastic players who due to limitations of the human memory cannot be mentioned. They all did well and should consider themselves proud and worthy sons of Africa!
The Moroccans seem to have a 'factory' for producing great players. One remembers their legendary striker and Skipper, who led them to the 1976 Nations' cup victory: Skipper Ahmed Faras. The battle between Ahmed Faras and Nigeria's Godwin Odiye, alias "Mister No way", during the 1976 Montreal Olympics games' qualifier, between Nigeria and Morocco, is chronicled in my book: "Super Eagles of Nigeria: Pride of Africa", which reference is given at the end of this piece.
One also remembers players like: Badou Zaki, their goalkeeper of the 1986 World cup fame; Merry Krimou; Abdul Azeez Boudabala; Mustapha El Biyaz enz.
In conclusion, in the words of the Moroccan coach, Walid Regragoui: Morocco, missed the World cup trophy, due to some differences in quality, with the absolute top soccer nations. He noted that the differences were not too much, and with hardwork could be overcome, in the shortest possible time. Yours sincerely couldn't agree more!
Also, congratulations to the other African representatives: Ghana, Senegal, Tunisia and Cameroun, for their superlative displays. Together, they made Africa proud at the just- concluded 2022 FIFA World cup competition!
UP MOROCCO! UP AFRICA!!!!!!!!