AFCON 2017 EXCITING WITHOUT SOUTH AFRICA AND NIGERIA
The ongoing African Nations Cup tournament has been exciting to watch, with surprises everyday. Countries have started qualifying for the quarter finals and Gabon have been an excellent host. Nigeria, one of the biggest footballing countries in Africa and the Rainbow Nation – South Africa – were missing from the list of countries that would feature.
Some big names too were not going to appear at the event, the humidity in Gabon and other issues made many fearful of the event but the missing pieces have not been able to stop the fun at the event which have progressed well.
Nigeria and South Africa are the two dominant nations economically in the continent. The World Cup hosts wanted to host this event too and even submitted a bid but the current hosts were chosen ahead of them despite fears.
Nigeria are the 2013 winners – the third time – and having missed the 2015 edition which Cote D’Ivoire lifted, the current edition was one many expected them to hit with a bang. However both giants failed to qualify. In spite of that,pre-tournament ticket sales have been a success, with tens of thousands being sold and many matches sold out (though a few tickets remain if you follow this link), which all points to Gabon having been accepted by many fans around the globe as worthy hosts.
The President of Nigeria Football Federation Amaju Pinnick – who just received a FIFA appointment recently – had to speak to the millions of fans saying he and the team would do better in 2017. Nigerian football has really taken a slump in recent years and with deaths to two of the nation’s biggest coaches, getting back to old times has been hard.
On the other hand South Africa wanted to appease fans after they were knocked out in the 2010 World Cup they hosted in the group stage – they were actually the first to score in the tournament but the first to go home too. They failed to qualify for the event in Brazil.
After failing to get automatic qualification in a failed bid, they failed to qualify altogether. The funds that have been sent into infrastructure has been poorly managed leading to public outcry and more woes.
In all, Gabon continues to be an excellent host of the ongoing event.