Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Africa Cup Of Nations

I was going to do regular updates on the three SPL players at the Africa Cup of Nations. Sadly the progress of Sol Bamba, Madjihd Bougherra and Landry N’Guemo doesn’t seem that important in the shadow of the attack on the Togo team bus.

I must admit I wasn’t really able to follow the story all that closely over the weekend so the complexities of what happened and why are a bit beyond my ken I’m afraid. All I can say is that none of us expect footballers to become targets for terrorists and it sends shockwaves through the game when something like this happens.

The confusion over Togo’s eventual withdrawal added to the impression that nobody really knew what was happening. Back here the media’s unbelievable focus on the English based players involved was a less than edifying way of covering a tragedy that saw three people die.

Inevitably the tournament will be overshadowed but, crass as it may sound, the draw between Angola and Mali in the first round proved football’s enduring ability to confound the worst that can be thrown at it off the pitch when the matches kick off.

Not for the first time in his career Phil Brown took the opportunity to display his own idiocy. In a typical rant he said: “I am appalled. This throws a question mark against next summer's World Cup. You simply cannot put the safety of players, officials and fans at the slightest risk.”

Clearly when Phil hears “Africa” he pictures one country full of gun toting terrorists. South Africa may have its own, well documented, problems but terrorist rebels from a country some 1500 miles way are unlikely to be one of them.

Still I suppose it’s like when I hear the word “idiot” and I picture the perma-tanned manager of one of the English Premier League’s lesser lights.

Anyway, there’s reasoned and sensible analysis of what happened, why and what it all means on a number of blogs:

At Pitch Invasion Andrew Guest takes a deeper look at the context of football in Angola

And, for the BBC, Piers Edward tackles the aftermath of the attack and the way the Togo players found themselves at the centre of a political storm as they came to terms with the attack

These horrific events will overshadow this tournament. But they can't be allowed to completely derail what should be a defining year for football in Africa.