Tuesday , September 28 2021

Africa’s love affair with Olympic football looks dead when it arrives in Tokyo



by Allan Ssekamatte

Football fans cannot be the only ones who are annoyed by the methodology applied when distributing medals at the Olympic Games. Growing up, we were used to seeing the USA and USSR (Soviet Union) top the medal lists, followed by China, Great Britain, and Australia; then Cuba, who always wins boxing gold.

Thanks to its athletic prowess, Kenya was traditionally the only sub-Saharan African country to rank in the top ten globally. In recent years, China and the US have dominated global rooks, with South Africa as the continent’s powerhouse.

When Nigeria won gold in soccer at the 1996 Atlanta Games, I expected Africa’s most populous country to climb the medal honors list. I was disappointed to see the country nowhere among the Olympic superpowers.

Why? Because when a team of 30 – 23, coaches and support staff – wins an Olympic Games football final, they all get individual gold medals, but only one medal is reflected in the country’s overall count. This cannot be true.

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Elephant. AC Milan forward Franck Kessie will lead the Ivory Coast attack. PHOTO/AFP

If Cuba can score five gold medals after taking the field with a team of a dozen boxers, or if China is able to collect 25 medals of various definitions from a 40-man team, the team that wins the football final of the Olympic Games must have at least 23 reflected gold medals. in the tally of their countries.

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Cameroon is writing its own history
Another African nation, Cameroon, would have a proud Olympic history if it had seen them win 23 medals in soccer gold at the 2000 Sydney Games.

African football fans are looking forward to the Olympic Games because our teams have always punched above their weights. Long before Daniel Amokachi, Nwankwo Kanu and Sunday Oliseh captivated the football world at the Atalanta Games, Zambian captain Kalusha Bwalya brightened the Games with a dazzling hat-trick in a 4-1 win against Italy at the 1988 Seoul Games.

This is how Bwalya ended up on Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven, which was rare in the eighties.

The Sydney Games was Cameroon goalkeeper Carlos Idriss Kameni’s turn to delve into football folklore. His penalty-saving prowess led him to Espanyol in La Liga, where he followed in the footsteps of legendary Indomitable Lions protector Thomas Nkono.

One of three former goalkeepers to be named African Footballer of the Year, Nkono had scored for Espanyol more than a decade after his exploits at the 1982 World Cup, an unbeaten tournament for Cameroon.

Prospects are weak for an African team that won a gold medal at this year’s Tokyo Olympics. None of the continent’s three representatives – Egypt, South Africa and Ivory Coast – have built a roster strong enough to challenge current champions Brazil, former winners Argentina and 1992 champion Spain, and these teams are all star-studded, including a few players who have only been in the major leagues He fights in a full team. The European Championship is over.

Getting out of their group will be a success.
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