Africa ready to resume
The very first FIFA World Cup™ to be held on African soil conjured up an array of unforgettable moments from start to finish, with Spain bringing the tournament to an end by lifting the Trophy for the first time in their history.
Many outsiders feared that South Africa would struggle with the task of hosting the world's biggest sporting event, but the country indelibly associated with Nelson Mandela – and Africa in general – proved more than capable of organising the finals.
Now, having captured the world’s attention for the last month, the whole continent will be anxious to retain a prominent place in the minds of football lovers everywhere. Fans seduced by the African game can now turn their thoughts to the domestic championships that have been gearing up for their big kick-offs since the finals drew to a close.
There were upsets galore and sparkling contests throughout South Africa 2010, and the tournament reached a memorable conclusion as La Roja added themselves to the select list of teams to have scaled the global summit.
Now that the tournament is over, a strange quiet has descended. The vuvuzelas that came to symbolise the event have fallen silent, but the competition’s legacy will undoubtedly spread far and wide. Organising the global showcase was a monumental task, yet the host nation rose to the challenge and the whole continent can start hoping for a better future in the realms of health, education and, of course, football. Indeed, no team embodied local hopes better than Ghana, who enjoyed widespread support across Africa, with both the players and their newfound fans believing in their chances right up until their quarter-final exit.
Although the FIFA World Cup has occupied centre stage for the last few weeks, Africa’s clubs have been keeping busy ahead of their return to action on the domestic and continental stages. In South Africa, coach Antonio Lopez Habas has once again taken the reins at Mamelodi Sundowns, but the switch grabbing all the headlines has been Clifford Ngobeni’s move from Ajax Cape Town to Orlando Pirates. Ngobeni’s new employers have also snapped up forward Chiukepo Msowoya from Rwandan outfit APR.
The transfer causing the biggest stir in Egypt is Mohamed ‘Gedo’ Nagui’s move to Al Ahly, the youngster having shone for the Pharaohs en route to their CAF African Cup of Nations triumph earlier this year. The Cairo side have also swooped for Hossam Ghaly, while allowing Imad Motaeb to sign terms with Standard Liege.
In Morocco, all the talk has centred around the arrival of a number of prestigious coaches, with Raja Casablanca having notably lured former Atlas Lions tactician Henri Michel. Similarly, the Frenchman’s compatriot Jean-Francois Jodar has taken the helm at Moghreb Tetouan, while Brazilian Jose Dutra Santos is the new man in charge at defending champions Wydad Casablanca.
Coaches have likewise been on the move in Ghana, with former Asante Kotoko player Ebo Mends occupying the dugout at his old club and Paa Kwesi Fabin leaving the prestigious Kumasi side to oversee their great rivals, Hearts of Oak.
Clubs back on duty
Less than a month after hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final, Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg will be called into action once again on 7 August. The occasion will be the Telkom Charity Cup, the traditional curtain-raiser ahead of the new South African season.
Further north, the Egyptian Super Cup on 25 July is set to be a rematch of last season’s Egyptian Cup final, in which league champions Al Ahly missed out on the double against Haras El Hedood. The championship itself is then scheduled to get started ten days later, while the new Tunisian league campaign kicks off on 24 July.
Some countries are still in the midst of their domestic seasons, and in Angola pole position is occupied by Luanda side Interclube, who will contest their 17th outing this term on Sunday. ASEC Mimosas top the table in Côte d'Ivoire, meanwhile, and with 15 games played they enjoy a healthy five-point lead over their nearest rivals.
In Ghana, Aduana Stars captured the title last term despite having only just been promoted, so they will be keen to defend their crown when the new season commences in August. As for the top-flight sides in Algeria, they will have to wait until September.
Flying the flag overseas
After a hiatus of several weeks, the CAF Champions League is about to pick up again at the quarter-final stage. Eight teams split into two groups will be vying for the coveted title, which also brings with it the chance to represent Africa in the FIFA Club World Cup at the end of the calendar year. In addition, the clubs still targeting glory in the CAF Confederation Cup are currently making last-minute preparations, with the round of 16 due to get under way on Saturday.
In the international arena, qualifying for the 2012 African Cup of Nations began earlier this month with four matches disputed in Group 11. Also, Tunisia lost their first qualifying game, a shock 1-0 home defeat to Botswana. There will be more games from the same section on 11 August, while the rest of the field will begin their bids on 5 September.