Two years of anxious wait, two years of long, tedious and adventurous journey across the continent of Africa to select the best 24 countries to take part at the 2019 Total Africa Cup of Nations, two years of ups and downs, highs and lows, the wait for Africa biggest football showpiece is finally over.
Africa’s biggest and best talents from in and outside the continent gather in Egypt, where the AFCON tournament has been held 5 times and unlike the previous editions, this year’s AFCON will be the biggest edition yet with 24 teams and three debutants joining in the party. Moreso, the Video Assistant Referee will be used at the tourney starting from the Quarterfinals, but despite the developments, the AFCON is in danger of been caught in a web of crises rocking African football at the moment.
It isn’t a crises that sprang up overnight, it’s an accumulation of wrong choices, corruption and poor administration by those in charge of the round leather in the continent. Quite amusing, the Continent’s biggest football will kick off with the Continent’s football governing body headed indirectly by FIFA.
This was after, Ahmad Ahmad, president of the CAF was arrested and interrogated for issues relating to Sexual offences before he was cleared and then rearrested for corruption charges which he was released without charges, a string of actions which shows there are issues to be solved in the governing body.
FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura was then appointed general delegate for Africa for six months starting from August 1 till January 2020, as a way of reforming African football’s governing body.
This includes overseeing the operational management of CAF, “efficient and professional organisation of all CAF competitions” as well as supporting the growth and development of football in all African regions.
The introduction of VAR albeit delayed until the knockout stages would have brought a smile to faces of majority African football fans, however after the farcical end to the 2018/2019 CAF Champions League final second leg between Esperance and Wydad where the VAR was said to be unavailable and not working in second leg, it left many wondering if the introduction isn’t too early to the African game.
Not many would have complained if the introduction of VAR into African is delayed till 2021 if it will be for the best and maximum effect and the disgrace of the incident between Esperance and Wydad in Tunisia would have been avoided.
Furthermore, the tournament was initially put into early doubts after the format was increased to 24 teams from the former 16-team format leading Cameroon to be stripped of the hosting after failing to meet up with preparations for the visit of 24 teams, Egypt and South Africa stepped up to bail CAF out, with Egypt winning the bid and hitherto preparations have been going on well save for political unrest brewing in the country.
The question is, if Cameroon can’t host 24 teams, how many African countries have the required economy to host 24 teams every 2 years? It will be a tragedy and more comical than, the awarding of trophy and ordering of the replay of the second leg of the CAF Champions League final, to have the competition revert to 16-teams format in the future if countries can’t meet up.
At least we can’t be confined to the 3-4 countries that can host 24 teams comfortably.
In an isolated case but a related issue of poor administration by football federations in Africa, it was reported earlier in the day that defending champions Cameroon risk disqualification from the tournament after players refused to board the plane due to failed promises by FECAFOOT (Cameroon’s football governing body) and unpaid bonuses.
Although, the issue was half-resolved with players having to fund camping and plane tickets from personal pocket, the last is yet to be heard from the issue and thus becomes a discussion for another day.
Nevertheless, the opening game got off to a spectacular start, with the fans inside the 75,000 capacity Cairo International Stadium treated to an eye-catching opening ceremony that featured giant pyramids on the pitch, elegant dancers forming the shape of a pharaoh’s face and culminating in a huge fireworks display.
Egypt get their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations of to a winning start at a packed Cairo International Stadium.
A fine strike fromKasimpasa striker Mahmoud Trezeguet in the 41st minute was enough for Javier Aguirre’s side in a game which saw the tempo drop off considerably in the second half of the game
Zimbabwe were valiant and full of endeavour but lacked a cutting edge of qualityin their quest to break the Egyptians down.
Super League: Respect & Dialogue Needed To Restore Normality
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, disapproving the concept of Super League
President Gianni Infantino has called for respect and dialogue as he expressed FIFA’s strong disapproval of the proposed European Superleague project, and has requested that the concerned parties consider their position in line with respecting the institutions that exist to protect the interest of national, European, and global football.
“FIFA is an organization which is built on values, the true values of sport,” said the FIFA President in his address to the 45th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Montreux, Switzerland.
“It is an organization that is built on our statutes, the statutes that define the institutional framework, with the pyramid, with FIFA, the confederations, the associations, the leagues, the clubs, the players. And at FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove of the creation of a super league which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA, which is outside of the system. There is no doubt whatsoever of FIFA’s disapproval for this.”
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, and a model that he promoted in his 16 years at UEFA:
“FIFA is here, and I am here today as FIFA President, to bring full support to European football, to UEFA, and the 55 member associations of UEFA and of FIFA, to the leagues, clubs, players, and to fans. To all the fans, all over Europe, and actually all over the world as well.”
“We can see that there is a lot to throw away for the short-term financial gain of some,” the FIFA President added. “People need to think very carefully, they need to reflect, and they need to assume responsibility. They need to think not only of their shareholders, but they need to think about all the people, of all the fans, of all those who have contributed to making European football what it is today. It goes back not only decades, it goes back more than one hundred years. People – with love, with passion, with commitment – have created all this. And we need to protect this. It is our task.”
“FIFA is a democratic organization, an organization that is open,” the FIFA President concluded. “Everyone can bring ideas and proposals, but always with respect for the institutions, leagues, associations, UEFA, and FIFA.
With respect for the history and with the respect for the passion of so many people around the world. I understand as well that on these particular days, emotions are very high, but we need to always keep the line. Football is hope, and it is our responsibility to make hope a reality. So we hope that everything will go back to normal and that everything will be settled, but always with acting responsibly, with respect, with solidarity, and always in the interest of national, European, and global football.”
2 Potential Manager To Replace Hansi Flick
Hansi Flick awesome reign with the Bavarian giant is gradually winding down, as it’s looking likely that he may not further manage the Die Roten next season.
Bayern Munich’s quest to win the Champions League consecutively came to end on Tuesday night, via the UEFA’s away goal rules having lost the first leg at home to Paris Saint Germain in the quarter-finals despite being the better side at home.
The Bavarian giant will now focus on league duty and they’re no doubt the team in pole position to win the Bundesliga, as the 2020-21 campaign is gradually coasting home with fewer games left to be played. In that regard, there is a great need for Die Roten to start preparing for next season administration and coaching wise.
The friction relationship between Hansi Flick and the Sports Director has broken down to such as extent that the manager has decided to terminate his current contract.
Hansi Flick sent shock waves through German football on Saturday after a 3-2 win over Wolfburg which keeps the Bavarian in pole position to retain the league title. Hansi Flick issued a statement about his decision to exit when the current campaign draws to a close.
“I told the team today that I informed the club during the week, after the game in Paris, I would like to terminate my contract at the end of the season.
“It was important to me that the team learn this from me because there was already a lot of hallway rumours going around.
“We’ve done a great job together for almost two years. I’m absolutely impressed with this team, their quality and their attitude.”
He added: “I also want to thank the club that gave me the chance to manage this incredible team.
“This decision was not easy for me. I’m a fan of this club. Gerd Müller, Paul Breitner, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge all were childhood idols for me.
“I’m eternally grateful to the club for the chance they gave me to become head coach here.”
It’s quite evident that a new manager would be appointed to pave way for a new rebuild of the team especially with the looming departure of David Alaba, Jerome Boateng, and Javi Martinez.
Two potential top managers that could succeed Hansi Flick, should he accept Die Mannschaft managerial position.
- Julien Nagelsmann – (RB Leipzig)
Nagelsmann has been rumoured as a possible replacement to succeed not one but many managers in Europe’s top-flight leagues whose future with their respective clubs are not guaranteed. This time around, the 33-year-old has been rumoured to be one of the possible potential managers to succeed Hansi Flick.
It could be argued that Nagelsmann is the tailor-made manager to take over the reins at the Allianz Arena, and there is no doubt RB Leipzig manager would certainly harbour the dream of managing one of the biggest clubs in Europe.
Nagelsmann is presently focusing on the job at hand with RB Leipzig, plus the fact that he’s still under contract with his employers until the end of the 2022-23 season.
With RB Leipzig and Nagelsmann flying high in the Bundesliga in terms of team performances, with next season European football spot already secured, the club’s Executive Director Oliver Mintzlaff may consider letting him leave to join their rival.
However, it’s left to be seen how things would shape up at the end of the campaign.
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- Jurgen Klopp – (Liverpool)
The relationship the German tactician has achieved thus far with Liverpool started in 2015 when he joined the Kop from Borussia Dortmund, since then he has achieved quite an incredible success with the Reds winning their first league title after thirty years and a Champions League triumph.
Liverpool were eliminated early in both domestic cup competitions and failed to progress past the quarter-finals of the Champions League, and it’s quite impossible to say that the Kop will defend their title with their current epileptic form in the Premier League especially when it’s looking done and dusted that the cityzen would clinch the title.
Having used close to six years with Liverpool since he joined the Anfield side, this could be the perfect time for the former Borussia Dortmund manager to take up a new challenge. However, despite Liverpool’s unpalatable 2020-21 campaign, the German has often reiterated that he is in no way finished at Liverpool, despite been link to the Bayern Munich and Die Mannschaft managerial position.
Given his incredible success with BVB, it’s quite evident that he would one day go on to manage either Die Roten or Die Mannschaft. Should Bayern secure the service of Klopp, he would certainly be the right and wise choice for the Bavarian giant.
At the end of the campaign, there would be a breath of fresh air in the Bavarian giant camp, with the new CEO Oliver Kahn taking the mantle of leadership from Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. In that sense, it’s left to be seen if the incoming leader would sanction the appointment of a new manager or stick with Hansi Flick. Only time would tell.