Everyone saw the continent’s love for the beautiful game as South African hosted a truly memorable World Cup! But the good news didn’t stop there. After several false dawns, they finally did the business on the pitch with a record number of African teams at the World Cup, as well as a Congolese finalist in the World Club Cup final!
While these are fantastic milestones, it is the emergence of truly world class players that best demonstrates the meteoric rise of African football. Nearly all top sides seem to have an African player or two in their ranks. From Samuel Eto’o to Didier Drogba to Emmanuel Adebayor, the continent is well represented on the world stage.
African football has come a long way since pioneers like Roger Miller, Tony Yeboah and George Weah made their mark abroad. Whilst a move to Europe remains the dream for many, African domestic leagues are becoming stronger – look no further than TP Mazembe Englebert who reached the final of the FIFA Club World Cup, before Inter and Cameroon star Samuel Eto’o found his shooting boots!
Throw in the fact the African Cup of Nations is now one of the most eagerly awaited tournaments in the football calendar, featuring top players from Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Arsenal and Inter to name a few and you begin to see the footballing potential of this vast continent.
Ghana are currently ranked 16th in the world, but it can’t be long before an African team is regularly in the top 10! Whilst Pele’s prediction of an African World Cup winner by 2000 proved premature, the number of truly great African players means that it’s certainly no pipedream! Six African nations took part in the last World Cup and each stood up to the challenge, showing that Africa as a football continent has come of age. It showed a glimpse of what we’re sure will be a very bright future.
As Ghana take to the Wembley pitch against England on Wednesday, they will not only be flying the flag for their country, but the whole continent.