Is Africa’s football talent finally coming back home? [Football Planet]

More and more players of African descent in Europe are trooping back home. Most recently, Geoffrey Kondogbia (France) and Saido Berahino (England) completed nationality switches to Central African Rep

In this article, the word home is used to refer to Africa.



More and more players of African descent in Europe are trooping back home. Most recently, Geoffrey Kondogbia (France) and Saido Berahino (England) completed nationality switches to Central African Republic (C.A.R) and Burundi respectively. Other players like Gabon’s Aubameyang, Ghana’s Kevin Prince Boateng and Ivory Coast’s Wilfried Zaha who have made similar moves and by observation, that has become a curious trend.



It led the big (hypothetical) question; is Africa’s ‘muscle drain’ finally over? Nuhu Adams, a veteran sports analyst from Ghana joined us on call from Accra to share his comments. He said: “It’s not like they’re willing to come back but when they realize they can’t play for the countries they are in, that is when they opt to come play for their African teams. If Kevin Prince Boateng was aware he was going to be called up by Germany for the 2010 World Cup he would never have come to play for Ghana.



“Yes it’s good they are coming back but I can’t really say they are coming to play for Africa. That’s not the reality. The reality is that when they are ignored by those European countries then they turn to Africa because most of the african countries are always chasing for such players,” he said.



In a nutshell, Nuhu is of the opinion that their return has little to do with tracing back their roots, patriotism or even pan-Africanism. It’s more about pursuing and securing personal convenience.



Abdullahi Boru Halakhe, a Horn of Africa security analyst share’s Nuhu’s sentiments. He say’s in an article published on Aljazeera that most of the players switching to African national teams are doing so because they are unable to make the cut in Europe adding that it has a lot to do with intense domestic competition but also with increasing racism.

Biting graft and con agents at home



Halakhe further points out that African football will continue to struggle to retain talent, owing to poor governance, predatory and unregulated football agents and inadequate commercial incentives that have continued to push exceptional African players to leave the continent for Europe.



Few African football federations are managed professionally; corruption is rife with money meant for football development ending up in individual officials’ bank accounts.



The sheer number of African players playing in foreign leagues is one of the most notable trends in recent tournaments.



Corruption and poor management have stunted local leagues across Africa and discouraged fans from attending games. Predatory and exploitative “football agents”, who lure young boys with a promise to make them the next big thing in Africa’s football, have filled the gap left by the lack of adequate training schemes and academies.



A lack of regulation and inspection allows these con men to operate with impunity. They promise to sign young boys for famous clubs in Europe and take exorbitant fees from the boys’ families to secure these “deals”. Sometimes families sell everything they have to pay the agents because they believe their child will become the next Didier Drogba. In some cases, the agents disappear with the family’s savings before the boy even travels to Europe, in others the boy is taken to Europe and left there alone to fend for himself.



According to Charity Foot Solidaire at least 15,000 young football players are moved, out of West Africa each year under false pretences, but a lack of monitoring means the number of boys being trafficked abroad could be far higher.



As a result, international superstars like Senegal’s Sadio Mane and Egypt’s Mohammad Salah prefer to play for European football clubs, rather than staying in Africa and so the problem of allegiance persists.



Problem of allegiance



The sheer number of African players playing in foreign leagues is one of the most notable trends in recent continental tournaments. During the 2017 AFCON in Gabon, 368 players were involved and out of that number, 64% play their club football in Europe, just under a third play in Africa (28%), followed by Asia (6%) and the Americas (1%), according to numbers from Sportslens.



It’s also becoming increasingly rare to find home grown coaches on the sidelines in major African tournaments. At AFCON 2017 only four teams – Senegal, Zimbabwe, Guinea Bissau and the Democratic Republic of Congo – were led by African coaches, while most of the other 12 tacticians are European.



At the Russia 2018 World Cup, Senegal’s Aliou Cisse was the only coach from Sub-Saharan Africa and conversely didnt have any player in his 23-man squad that was playing in the local Senegalese league. The closes he came was having Khadim Ndiaye who plays for Guinean side Horoya AC. The rest ply their trade outside Africa.



Muscle drain will persist



Looking at the big numbers of players playing outside their home countries, it’s evident that the muscle drain is far from over and then another question arises; has this massive migration affected the African game?



Of course, when such a huge number of talented players showcase their talents away from Africa, the local leagues are left poorer. This makes it difficult to increase spectator numbers in stadiums except when the national team is playing and the star players are back in the country, as Professor Wycliffe W. Njororai Simiyu writes in The Conversation.



However, he says, at individual level the players are well rewarded for their talent and efforts. Additionally, individual players’ technical, physical, psychological, tactical and overall understanding of the game really skyrockets.



Such players tend to bring back home a positive influence on the national team. No wonder that most of the dominant African teams have the largest number of footballing “exiles”. It’s worth noting that when the national team does well, there is more inflow of cash from international governing body FIFA and also easier to attract corporate support.



The downside is that these star players tend to convert their home audiences to fans of the foreign leagues where they showcase their skills. With European leagues dominating the cable TV networks, most fans transfer their allegiance to foreign leagues and that contributes to reducing interest in domestic leagues.



This should be a wake-up call to those overseeing the African game – it’s time to value and treat players with maximum respect and reward them accordingly.



AFCON U-20: Mali crowned champions

Mali beats Senegal at the finals of the U- 20 AFCON in Niger to back home her first continental title for the category.

Mali beats Senegal at the finals of the U- 20 AFCON in Niger
to back home her first continental title for the category.

Liverpool, Juventus, Barcelona and Fc Bayern all take center stage as the journey to unseat Real Madrid as Europe’s best continues with the 16th finals of the Uefa Champions League.

Ahead of the 2019 Afcon Yannick Bolasie of the DR Congo seeks play time in Belgian top flight, we shall be getting his reaction at the end of his first game with his new employers.

Kaepernick reaches deal with NFL - Lawyer

He was unsigned as a free agent through the fall of the season after he opted out of a contract with the San Francisco 49ers

Colin Kaepernick, one of the most visible players to protest against racial injustice during the U.S. national anthem, has resolved grievances with the National Football League.

His attorney, Mark Geragos said via Twitter on Friday that the resolution was subject to a confidentiality agreement and so the team said there would be no further comment by either party.

Kaepernick, 31, filed a collusion grievance against NFL owners in October 2017.

He was unsigned as a free agent through the fall of the season after he opted out of a contract with the San Francisco 49ers. Since then, the former NFL quarterback has been unable to find a team to play for.

Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl game in 2013.

Reuters

Saudi flags Crown Prince - Man United acquisition report 'offside'

Reports that Mohammed Bin Salman intends to buy the club are “completely false”, the minister, Turki al-Shabanah, wrote on social network Twitter.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is not seeking to buy Premier League football club Manchester United, the kingdom’s media minister said on Monday, denying reports and adding that there had only been a meeting with the Saudi wealth fund regarding sponsorship.

Reports that Mohammed Bin Salman intends to buy the club are “completely false”, the minister, Turki al-Shabanah, wrote on social network Twitter.

He was reacting to reports that the crown prince had sought to tempt the Glazer family to cede control of the club.

“Manchester United held a meeting with PIF Saudi to discuss (a) sponsorship opportunity,” Shabanah said, adding that no deal materialised.

On Sunday, the British newspaper, the Sun, said the crown prince was in a £3.8-billion ($4.9-billion) takeover bid for one of football’s most popular clubs.

The paper said a bid was first submitted in October but the fallout from the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s embassy in Istanbul put the “skids” on a potential offer.

REUTERS

Ethiopian teenager smashes 1,500m world indoor record

It came on the same Birmingham track where Tefera had won the world title last year.

Ethiopian teenager Samuel Tefera outduelled compatriot Yomif Kejelcha to break the world indoor 1,500 metres record in Birmingham on Saturday.

Tefera, 19, clocked three minutes, 31.04 seconds at the IAAF World Indoor Tour meeting to take down Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj’s 1997 record of 3:31.18.

It came on the same Birmingham track where Tefera had won the world title last year. Tefera kicked past Kejelcha after the bell for the final lap and charged to the finish line. Kejelcha finished second in a personal best of 3:31.58.

Kejelcha, the 21-year-old two-time world indoor 3,000m champion, had come within 0.01 of the world indoor mile record last week in New York. He had announced before Saturday’s race he would be going for the 1,500m record.

Scotland’s Laura Muir became the third-fastest indoor miler of all-time at the same meeting when she broke the British record. The European champion clocked 4:18.75.

The world record is 4:13.31 by Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba in 2016.

REUTERS

Sala's family bids final farewell

28 year old Sala, had been flying from his previous club Nantes in western France to Wales on January 21 to make his debut for the Premier League team.

A coffin carrying the remains of footballer, Emiliano Sala carried from a vigil site to a hearse by the star’s friends and family on Saturday.

Sala’s coffin was at a vigil inside Sala’s childhood club, San Martin de Progreso, in Santa Fe, Argentina, during the day before being moved to a hearse.

Crowds applauded and some openly wept as the Cardiff player’s coffin was driven through the streets to a private ceremony in Santa Fe city, where Sala’s body is due to be cremated.

Sala,28, had been flying from his previous club Nantes in western France to Wales on January 21 to make his debut for the Premier League team.

His single-engined Piper Malibu aircraft he was travelling in disappeared over the English Channel.

Wreckage was found on February 3 following a privately-funded underwater search and a body recovered on February 6.

The body was taken to southern England where it was positively identified as Sala.

Reuters