14 February, 2008

Kings of Africa!

Now that the metaphorical (and possibly literal) dust has settled on this year’s African Cup of Nations, how did we all feel it went? Well, despite some pre-tournament cynicism from certain members of the STT editorial staff that it would just be three weeks of enormous guys built like boxers running around as fast as they could for 90 minutes until either side got a penalty, the 2008 spectacle in Ghana was nothing short of the most entertaining to date.

Perhaps most admirably, the overall philosophy of every team on display seemed to be that of pure attack, a style that certain European ‘superpowers’ could do with taking notice of. As such, this year’s African Cup was monumental on many levels, with average attendances way up from previous competitions and a record number of overall goals (99) scored across the three weeks. On an individual level too, records were impressively broken. Barcelona maestro Samuel Eto'o surpassed both Laurent Pokou's all-time goal-scoring record (16), and also Rigobert Song's appearance record (33). Finally, there was much rejoicing for Egypt’s Ahmed Hassan who became the first player to win the Cup three times, while as a country themselves, Egypt amazingly bagged their sixth title out of all 25 competitions.

Despite doubts that perhaps some of bigger names present, such as Didier Drogba, Mahamadou Diarra, Eto’O and the two Toure brothers, would struggle to motivate themselves as much as they would do for their club sides, the uniformly positive approach was refreshing, and only once was a game actually decided in extra-time, let alone penalties. The overall standard of goals too was excellent, with skill and trickery as prevalent as pace and power. Here then for your viewing pleasure are some of the tournament’s top goals in a compilation put together by some guy who’s more adept with video editing than we are:

Even the clang-tastic FIFA President Sepp Blatter was able to take his foot out of his mouth long enough to offer this:

“I have followed, with lots of interest, most of the matches of this competition and I have to say that the state of African football is at a very high level when compared to other tournaments around the world.”

Praise indeed I think you’ll agree. So with such a vast number African players permeating the major European leagues now, does this continent perhaps represent the future of football?

While you chew on that poser, and actually-almost-maybe anticipate the 2010 Cup to be held in Angola, STT would like to encourage you to finally luxuriate in one of the 1980s most moving songs and wonder to yourself if possibly this whole article was just an excuse to post a video of Toto…

Watch out for the fist-pumping harmony around 3:30. That shit cracks me up........