The Cup of African Nations 2012 hosted by Gabon and Guinea is in its second week. The excitement is probably not felt in Nigeria because the Super Eagles did not qualify right? Wrong!! I think the Nations Cup has lost its mojo. Gone are the days when you anticipate to see soccer stars from across Africa every other January. Back then we had players that everyone wanted to see. Abedi Pele, Rabber Madjer, Rashidi Yekini, Hossan brothers, Roger Milla to name a few. It’s not the same anymore even though we have players playing in Europe and earning more money, they seem to lack the magic their predecessors had on us back then. No were else has this been evident than at the various stadia use for the competition. They are mostly empty with only supporters of whichever country that is playing in the stands as well as CAF officials and a handful of other on lookers. Even the stadia are nothing to write home about. Nothing magnificent about them as they barely can’t even match the local ones we see on European soccer pitches year in year out. Even the host countries don’t do much to show case their countries tourism potentials as little is heard from tour companies and travel agencies. CAF as it is widely believed chose the path of having poorer African Countries hosting the Nations Cup and as such lowered the standards to accomodate them.
Another major factor affecting turnout in my view is the horrible timing of the Nations Cup. It is widely believed that January is the best time to host it as its a period notable for relatively low rain and acceptable weather. An archaic view in my opinion as South Africa just hosted the world in the summer successfully and other countries including Nigeria have at least hosted world youth tournaments at some time or the other, none of them being in January. CAF should make efforts to tap into the growing middle class in Africa who typically work all through January following the Xmas Holidays. A summer Nations Cup will surely catch the attention of the world as well as attract local leisure travellers within Africa. Take for example, the Chelsea vs Man U match clashed at the same time with the Ghana vs Tunisia match with the former clearly the match every one wanted to watch. Except for Tunisia and Ghana I do not know which other African country would have skipped the Chelsea vs Man U match for the Ghana Tunisia one. But then its CAF isn’t it? Like this reuters article opined, CAF don’t really care about the fans. They are just interested in seeking for Host Countires even if it means having empty stadia at the finals.
If CAF doesn’t care about you and I then why bother about the Nations Cup. Has this years episode not shown it is a colossal waste of our time to even watch let alone attend?? Will you rather watch the final this weekend than your favourite Premiership team? I think not