Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The African challenge is dying + Ortega to miss Ghana friendly.

Four African countries entered the Under 20 World Cup last week, now it seems that number may be whittled down.

With Nigeria's poor showing against Spain (they lost 2-0) they are surely going home. The Flying Eagles can also not count on mathematical calculations because Venezuela have thumped Haiti by - yes you guessed it - 8 goals to zilch.

Samson Siasia is seen as the messiah of Nigerian football. He led this team to third place in the African Youth Championships in Rwanda earlier this year. And before that he had taken his country to a fine stint in Holland 2005 Under 20 World Cup. To further cement his reputation, he did so well in last year's Olympics, finishing second.

But now, the honeymoon is well and truly over. Against Venezuela we may say that Siasia was at the wrong end of a refereeing decision by Roberto Rossetti when Lukman Haruna was sent off. It took the South America's just a few minutes to capitalise on their numerical advantage. But still, they wanted good chances.

So, what about Spain? Like their first game, Nigeria failed to convert several scoring chances and paid for it. This kind of attitude is quite symptomatic of all the African teams in this championship.

This kind of attitude is quite symptomatic of all the African teams in this championship...and it should stop!

Take South Africa. You have a healthy 2-0 lead by the 72nd minute and because you have a red card, you concede two goals, one in the 90-something minute? Really? And they claim they are building players who'll possibly play in 2010. Pooh!

And then we come to Ghana. The Satellites won 2-1, yes. But HOW did they win? After coming from a goal down. Don't get me wrong, they showed character by so doing. Yeah, but how's this for character:

I spoke to my colleague Rasheedat Kadiri in Egypt and according to her, the General Secretary of the GFA said after the Uzbek game that "they had underestimated the quality of the opposition."

I mean, come on. When would African teams learn that in a WORLD CUP, you play the BEST in the WORLD? Naivete is what would kill African teams. I would love to hear a World Cup game at any level where an African team wins 5-0 or more.

That would be the day. But till then, they gotta be more ruthless.

* Anyway, Ghana's local Black Stars are scheduled to play Diego Maradona's Argentina today in Cordoba. One man I was looking to see play is Ariel Ortega. He's been a favourite of mine since the old days. Sadly, 'El Burrito' won't feature because of an injury he's sustained.

Argentina Squad:

Goalkeepers: Diego Pozo (Colon de Santa Fe) and Cristian Campestrini (Arsenal)

Defenders: Matias Caruzzo (Argentinos), Ignacio Canuto (Argentinos), Rolando Schiavi (Newell's), Juan Manuel Insaurralde (Newell's), Cristian Villagra (River Plate), Clemente Rodriguez (Estudiantes) and Fabian Monzon (Boca Juniors)

Midfielders: Rodrigo Brana (Estudiantes), Enzo Perez (Estudiantes), Leonel Vangioni (Newell's), Federico Insua (Boca Juniors), Jesus Mendez (Rosario Central) and Mario Bolatti (Huracan)

Strikers: Gabriel Hauche (Argentinos), Martin Palermo (Boca Juniors), Nicolas Gaitan (Boca Juniors), Mauro Boselli (Estudiantes) and Luis Rodriguez (Atletico Tucuman)