Passion aplenty in African debate
African football fans have long been famed for their enthusiasm, passion and patriotism, and these traits were once again underlined in this week's hugely popular 'Have Your Say' discussion.
Asking our users to name the likely destination of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations title certainly sparked a frenzy of fierce but fair debate, and at the end it proved near-impossible to declare a clear winner. For a time, however, it appeared the discussion would be dominated by a large and vocal Egyptian contingent, all of whom were steadfast in their backing of the holders to successfully retain the continent's most coveted trophy.
Neutrals and supporters of other nations eventually reclaimed some of the initiative but the Pharaohs fans were certainly out in force during the week, with every one of them citing the credentials of their team and stating the case for Mohamed Aboutrika being considered Africa's outstanding talent. Yehiawy summed up this confidence, writing: "Egypt will win after beating Côte d'Ivoire in the final and Aboutrika will be the star of this cup as usual. He is the best player in Africa."
The reigning champions might have proved a popular choice, but there was equally strong backing for the team they beat to claim gold in 2006, with the vast array of talent that has seen Côte d'Ivoire installed among the bookmakers' favourites also attracting plenty of support among FIFA.com users. Namibian user OnesMo was one such backer. "I believe that the Elephants of Côte d'Ivoire have the best chance of winning the AFCON 2008 with the wealth of talent and depth of players with the likes of Drogba, Kalou, Kolo & Yaya Toure, Eboue, Aruna Dindane, Kone - the list goes on," he wrote. "This is the best crop of African players I've seen so far playing on the same side. Better yet, these guys have a point to prove after what happened in 2006."
The Ivorians will certainly take some stopping, but there are many who believe that, for the third edition in succession, it will be the hosts who emerge triumphant, with Ghana seemingly well placed to follow up on their historic and hugely impressive FIFA World Cup™ debut at Germany 2006. English user hallsyjnr led the backing for the Black Stars, writing: "I watched Ghana play world champions Italy in Germany, they deserved to draw that match. They were by far the best African team in that tournament. I'm sure they have matured and improved since then and with home advantage I can't see anyone else winning the African Nations."
Support also came from South Africa, with
mcfadden conceding that, for the moment at least, dreams
of glory for the 2010 FIFA World Cup hosts are almost certain to be
left unrealised. "I know I've got my head in the clouds by
rooting for my boys,
Bafana Bafana, I guess I'm being patriotic," was
this user's admission. "Ghana are a much stronger side and
with home advantage they could well take the cup. But look out for
surprises like my team South Africa or other hopefuls."
McFadden was far from alone in venturing the possibility of an upset, with plenty of fans of the tournament outsiders keen to state the case for their teams being considered worthy contenders. One English-based Guinean user, sankby, typified this belief, writing: "Make no mistake, Guinea will be the winner of this African Nations Cup. We will surprise Ghana then go on to surprise the world. Allez le Syli!"
The faith invested in the sides on show in Ghana was evident throughout this debate, although not everyone resorted to simply insisting that their team are best. Theories and superstition also abounded, with Nigerian user Kayuse citing a mathematical justification for tipping his beloved Super Eagles to top the podium. He explained: "Nigeria won her first African Cup of Nations in 1980 and 14 years later in Tunisia 1994, she won it again. Now another 14 years have elapsed between 1994 and 2008, meaning that it is the time for the Super Eagles to soar above other contenders once again."
With the big kick-off now just hours away, the time for the talking to stop and the action to begin is upon us. In the meantime, all that is left is for us here at FIFA.com to thank everyone who contributed to one of our successful 'Have Your Say' discussions to date. Our next topic sees Newcastle's returning hero Kevin Keegan thrust into the spotlight, with the burning question: can he end the stranglehold of England's big four on the nation's silverware?