On African Soil
The World Cup 2010 will see the tournament hosted on African soil for the first time. With over 2000 African players currently playing professional football in Europe and over 40 of these in the English Premier League there could certainly be a few chants of ,"Football's Coming Home".
My memories of the World Cup in 1990 are of magazine photos of 'African' kids in oversized, football shirts and an erotic corner-flag dance that has now been copied by millions. Cameroon had made it to the Quarter Finals and suddenly everyone was watching these incredibly powerful West African players who could move a ball with unbelievable dexterity. Of course, being English, I was relieved to see them defeated against my national team!
So, other than the Indomitable Lions (Cameroon) which African 'Big Five' have qualified for World Cup 2010? U17 World Cup hosts and runners-up in 2009, Nigeria, fly their Super Eagles flag, whilst U20 World Cup winners, Ghana, field the 'Black Stars' senior team. The Elephants (Ivory Coast) and the Desert Foxes (Algeria) will also be demonstrating their instinctive style of play.
The expectation upon the players of a host nation is immense. In South Africa, for World Cup 2010, everywhere you look you see the national team's colours - in the queues at the bus stops, on motorway billboards and in every other TV advert. The pride and the determination to do your country proud does more than just put a spring in the step of the most prolific striker, it could lift a whole team.
So what will be my memorable image of the World Cup 2010? The Diski dance is a collection of dance moves (which I am aiming to have perfected by June 11th) replicating a style of play that will become all too familiar by the end of the tournament. Even if South Africa doesn't progress as far as their supporters would like, I'm sure the dance will continue in the bars and streets of every host city, long after the final whistle of the final game has been blown.
Fortunately there is a far more accessible symbol of World Cup 2010. The Vuvuzelas, the metre long horns, that when blown sound like a trumpeting elephant, are already on the lips or hips of anyone who enters the country. They are unique to and synonymous with African football and will most certainly be the loudest lasting impression of the 2010 World Cup.