This was to be Africas World Cup thanks to Shakiras controversial and catchy cup anthem,and of course the fact that the continent is hosting it for the first time; if not for Pelés routine,and never vindicated,forecasts of an African team winning the Cup before the end of the 20th century. Well,the 20th centurys been left behind by a full decade,and Africas best show yet has been quarter-final appearances Cameroon in 1990,Senegal in 2002,and now Ghana. Statistically,in fact,this is South Americas World Cup,with all its five teams having progressed to the knock-out stage (with Uruguay entering the last eight after 40 years),and pundits talking of a South (if not Latin) American resurgence that will push beyond the Brazil-Argentina binary.
Africa is not out,and Asamoah Gyan dedicated his winning goal against the US to his continent,seen solidly behind the lone African team left. Ghana may be the most youthful and energetic African side in this World Cup,but the disappointment that is African football needs clear insights into the malaise. Even two of the three Asian teams moved to the second round,as against Africas one out of six,with South Africa distinguished as the first hosts to not progress.
African footballs problem is primarily poor management,not poverty or socio-political violence as that would undo the South American story. Nor is it foreign coaches ignorant of the natural African game,or best players going abroad too early. Africa must build and sustain its domestic leagues,investing in resources and infrastructure if gigantic sums can be spared for star coaches,some such money can also go where it matters most. Take Brazil,where footballers may still come from extremely poor quarters,yet where football tradition ensures as much talent in domestic-league players as in the stars playing in Europe. Given the talent in the continent,African football bosses actually have it easy.