Africa will never cease to amaze

JOHANNESBURG - With the 2014 World Cup in full swing, the disturbing matters regarding Brazil’s state of readiness have now been forgotten.

The showpiece promises all the thrills and spills of the game of billions – and the hosts set the tone of the entire tournament with a swashbuckling 3-1 win over Croatia, thanks to two goals from golden boy Neymar and a cheeky one from Oscar.

But will this be a year for an African nation to break the duck and qualify for the semi-finals or even go further and win the biggest sporting prize on the universe? We all, on the continent, want to believe so although it is always easier said than done.

And having witnessed the shambolic departure of Cameroon to Brazil, it will be folly to raise our expectations too high.

As has become the norm, the Cameroonian players refused to board the chartered flight to Brazil, protesting non-payment of their bonuses.

Apparently they had been promised £81 000 but the Association insisted on giving them £61 000.

This is the umpteenth time the Cameroonian Federation has locked horns with its national team players prior to departing for the World Cup. This is a clear sign of lack of foresight on the side of the federation officials.

Why didn’t they see this happening when it is a routine behaviour of their players whenever there is a big tournament?

I presume this is a catch 22 situation. Yes, players need to be remunerated for work done and more often than not, officials take a laissez faire attitude when addressing such matters hoping it will die away.

But this type of behaviour is what has put the name of the continent in bad light because the more things change globally, the more they stay the same on the African continent.

And getting back to the issue of Cameroonian players, the question is, are they justified in demanding exorbitant fees like these when football on the ground is suffering due to lack of infrastructure and funding? What can’t they play football for the pride of representing one’s country?

What I find disturbing is that most of these players earn millions with their clubs in Europe and would even sponsor their home Associations if they so wished.

So what drives them to want more from their cash-strapped Associations?

I put it down to pure greed.

A few years ago when African teams were really struggling, George Weah of Liberia was a star in Europe and he set an example which few stars have emulated. Then, he used to buy tickets for the Liberia Football Federation national team in order to fulfil international assignments. Where has such patriotism gone, one wonders!

Instead of stars such as Samuel E’too encouraging players to see sense and play for the love of the game, there have been reports that they are the ones who tacitly instigate other players to rebel.

A few years ago, E’too announced his retirement from the international game over the same issue of bonuses and yet here is one of Africa’s richest football stars.

It is very disturbing that money seems to have taken precedence of everything a sportsman wants to achieve.

Cameroon might be in one of the easiest groups at the World Cup but ramblings that surrounded their departure will definitely come back to haunt them.

As they say here in Mzansi, that Africa for you.

Feedback: sports@dailynews.co.zw.

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GALLERYCARTRIDGES - 14 June 2014

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