Brazil 2014: How West Africa Fared
IZMIR, TURKEY – FEBRUARY 11: The Ivory Coast team pose for a group photo during the International Friendly match between Turkey and the Ivory Coast at the Izmir Ataturk Stadium on February 11, 2009 in Izmir, Turkey. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
There were more lows than highs for African teams at the World Cup in Brazil. For the first time, two African countries made it to the knockout stage of the grandest sporting event on the planet and even pushed their more heralded opposition to the limit. However, it is the bonus disputes that beleaguered three of these teams that may be remembered longer.
The Black Stars’ curtain in Brazil rose with a weak opening match against the United States but they showed themselves to be in lively form by drawing 2-2 with Germany. They ultimately failed to qualify in their last match against Portugal. It proved to be a disappointing outing as they made it to the quarter finals in 2010 and there were rather high hopes that they would at least make it to the second round this time around.
A dispute over bonus payments had evidently distracted the team and it was only resolved when the Ghanaian president ordered that $3 million in cash be flown from Ghana to Brazil. There was also the rancor that surfaced. Two of Ghana’s best players — Kevin-Prince Boateng and Ali Sulley Muntari — were suspended before the final game when the disputes grew more personal.
Ghana was at best a team without focus in Brazil.
Along with Algeria, proved to the best performers among Africa’s representatives solely for the reason of qualifying out of the group stages. The journey however ended for the Super Eagles with a 0-2 defeat to France in the battle for the quarter finals spot. France needed a late header from midfielder Paul Pogba and an injury-time own goal from defender Joseph Yobo to overcome a robust Nigeria.
There are reports that Nigeria also engaged in some impromptu negotiations with their soccer federation. This could not have been the reason why some of their star players, including Mikel Obi and Victor Moses did not turn up at the tournament. Over all, they will feel that they can be proud of their run in the competition.
The Ivory Coast did not have any public disputes in this World Cup thus making them along with Algeria the shining stars of the tournament in that regard. However, with one of the most talented teams at Brazil, they fell short of expectations and will feel let down. Drogba said the reason Africans teams haven’t advanced as far as the World Cup semifinals has more to do with probability than financial disputes.
“We only have five teams in the World Cup out of 32,” he said.