Yesterday, as the English were celebrating qualifying for the world
cup, me and Nigerians around the world were wondering what might have
been. Nigeria had a slim chance of qualification, if we beat Zimbabwe
at home, and Angola failed to beat Rwanda, we were through. Zimbabwe
needed to win to qualify for the African Nations Cup, while Rwanda were
bottom of the group, and their result was meanligness to them. There
had been accusations the Rwandans had been bribed to lose by the
Angolans, and that the Nigerians had been paying people to try and beat
the Angolans FIFA stepped in, and both matches went on
Sadly, it was not to be. Nigeria quickly took control of the match, eventually wining 5-1. But
in the 58th minute, the Angolans scored the only goal in the other
match to render our result useless. And so, for the first time since
1994, Nigeria won't be at the World Cup. However, our football
administration has been in dire straits, with FIFA potentially kicking
us out soon.
There was drama all over Africa, as 4 nations qualified for the first time, signifying the shift of power in African football.
1. Togo - Coached by former Nigerian Captian Stephen Keshi. Togo have
surprised many by qualifying ahead of Senegal. However, they had to
come from behind to beat Congo, so it was close, and Senegal's 3-0
victory was useless.
2. Ghana - Despite being one of the powerhouses of African football,
producing such great players like Tony Yeboah and Abedi Pele, Ghana has
never been to a world cup. This time, with the 'Chelski' Micheal
Essien, they have made it ahead of South Africa and the other Congo.
3. Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) - with Chelsea overrated, overpaid
striker Didier Drogba, the Ivory Coast had a tough job with Cameroun
and Egypt in their group. On the last day, Cameroun needed to win
against Egypt, and had a late penalty with the score tied at 1-1. An
entire nation were in shock as the ball hit the bar, and bounced out.
And Cote d'Ivoire's 3-0 victory took them through. Oh dear..The image
of an inconsolable Samuel Eto'o will be classic viewing for years to
4. Angola - Of all the seeded teams, Nigeria had the easiet group on
paper. But they were too complacent, and losing to Angola in Luanda was
our undoing. We drew with them in Nigeria, and with both teams getting
18 points, Angola's superior head to head record took them through.
5. Tunisia - The only team with world cup experience. It wasn't easy qualifying ahead of Morocco....but they did.
And now, I'm off to cry into my pillow.