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A Festival In A Season Of Uncertainty

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A Festival In A Season Of Uncertainty

When Bafana-Bafana begin their quest, on 19 January, to win a second Cup of Nations title on home soil, in the tournament’s opening match against debutants Cape Verde, just 510 days will stand between the continent and another showing at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.

When Bafana-Bafana begin their quest, on 19 January, to win a second Cup of Nations title on home soil, in the tournament’s opening match against debutants Cape Verde, just 510 days will stand between the continent and another showing at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.

With the realignment of the African calendar, Nations Cups will no longer be played in World Cup years.

For some members of the fraternity, who support the change, the argument is that players should not feature in two competitions within a calendar year – with just four months between the February finale of a Nations Cup and the start of a World Cup in June.

I don’t buy the argument – that the aforementioned scenario causes physical overexertion – for the reason that Europe-based players, who are at the centre of this matter, would have still been playing in league competitions and training vigourously, even if they don’t play in the three-week tournament.

And the demands of the club game puts as much physical stress, if not more, on the players. That African football has deliberately lost the distinct advantage, over all other continents, of having a competitive tournament to prepare its teams for the World Cup, is a major mistake.

Sadly, the deed has been done and we will have to live with the consequences of the choice that CAF’s mandarins have made.

While we all look forward to a three-week feast of football in South Africa, it is the bitter fight for the CAF presidency, with the poll coming up in Marrakech, Morocco, just weeks after the end of the tournament, that is dominating the minds of the fraternity’s members.

Who leads African football over the next four years, as well as the vision, diligence and integrity with which we are led, will determine our future.

Can we say, with a straight face, that African football is putting its best foot forward on the global stage?

“May you live in interesting times,” says an old Chinese adage. That is certainly what I, as a chronicler of the continental game, am working in.

Okay Africa, let’s go…

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