Africa Speaks Again.
From the sandy beaches of the Atlantic in Rabat, and those of Tunis further North, to the dancing markets of Dakar and the Gold Coast of Ghana, the ongoing World Cup finals in Qatar is a stage that will contain lines written by Africans for generations to come. The continent is ably represented by Senegal in group A with the hosts, Qatar, Ecuador, and the Netherlands; Ghana in group H with Portugal, Uruguay, and the Korean Republic; Cameroon in group G with the likes of Brazil, Serbia,
and Switzerland, Morocco in group F with Canada, Croatia and Belgium; and Tunisia in D with France, Denmark and Australia.
Just like Africa as a whole, these teams were classified by football pundits and commentators as underdogs in different measures but have not disappointed. Each game has posed a challenge that questioned the ability of these teams, but it has been to their advantage and that of the African continent. Right from the technology employed in this competition to the individual talents of the teams and players, Qatar 2022 has given this rich continent a space to write its own history and records.
The spirited fight in matches against notable and reputable teams like Brazil, Spain, and Portugal have communicated the organization, talent, and the great desire to change what is deemed ‘normal’ both within and without the continent. Right from the start, the continent had been engulfed in a mixture of reactions and expectations. Taking the example of the Lions of Teranga, Senegal, who is the best team so far in Africa based on the last AFCON finals that culminated in these Qatar games, the absence of Sadio Mane, one of the best forwards in the world and the finalists of the Ballon D’ore due to injury blinked the hopes of Senegal and Africa at large.
To some extent, the absence of both Sadio Mane due to an injury, and Mohamed Salah whose team, Egypt was edged out by Senegal in the qualification ties, has seen the rise and recognition of new talents that ply their trade either within the continent or outside. The epitome of this is Cameroonian forward Vincent Abubakar. If his goal and a classic assist against Serbia put a mark, then the audacious goal against Brazil reverberated not only across the continent but also around the world. It has made him a household name across the continent. Morocco and Senegal are through to the round of 16.
These achievements are made more noteworthy considering that for the first time, all the African teams that made it to the Qatar ‘22 are managed by their own. The coaches, more notably Rigobert Song of Cameroon and Aliou Cisse of Senegal, are natives of the very countries, who have made numerous contributions in the continental and global stages like the previous world cups. It is a vote of confidence in not only our own talents, but also our systems and self-belief. And long may it continue!
By Masinde Quinto