Since its conception, the Africa Cup of Nations has been a glamorous event in Africa. This tournament often brings together the greatest footballers on the continent and as such, has become a highly anticipated event in the history of African football. Outside Africa, there are many footballers who hail from the African continent that are bringing a massive level of interest to the game of football who would usually return for the African Cup of Nations thus making the tournament a great opportunity for international clubs to shop for prospective players while also rooting for their team members who are away on national duty. Generally, AFCON has always been a major highlight in the football calendar across the world. This is exactly why this year there have been numerous undertones regarding the tournament’s capacity to showcase excellent African football talent.
AFCON is a tournament that aims at highlighting the very best of African football, therefore, one would expect a certain level of sportsmanship in the tournament. Africa has over the past few decades managed to produce impeccable players who boost the stakes of the continent’s football and must thus feature in a tournament like AFCON. In most cases, the fans of the game take it for granted that the great names in African football will feature in the tournament and when they don’t, questions must come up regarding the tournament’s quality and what is to be expected.
The main point however is that AFCON brings together the best teams in Africa, but qualifying for the competition does not entail having a big name in the team. It is more about the team’s performance in the qualifiers and not necessarily about whom they have in the lineup. Gone are the days when coaches fixed the famous players in the team just to pull a crowd. The present day African coach seems to focus more on the commitment of the player to the team and their ability to become team players rather than on individual talent. Below are the 5 biggest stars we all wish would be playing in the 2015 African Cup of Nations for several reasons.
1. Didier Drogba
Didier Drogba is a legendary footballer with an impressive history but presently retired from international football though he is still a relatively young player when compared to other footballers that are still playing for their countries and still has the strength to play quite well. He however announced his retirement after Ivory Coasts’ World Cup campaign where he fought very hard and lost alongside his teammates. Didier Drogba can now only watch from the sidelines as Ivory Coast launches yet another campaign for the Africa Cup of Nations after more than two decades of bad luck. Drogba’s absence in the tournament clearly leaves a significant gap in the game but it may also allow for the appreciation of new talent within the Elephants.
2. Demba Ba
Another missing name is Demba Ba. Unlike Didier Drogba, Demba Ba is still a professional footballer and is only out because of his ankle injury. The relatively young, French-born striker is currently contesting the fact that he is not on the team but his coach has a valid reason. With a weak ankle, Demba Ba is unlikely to help much in Senegal’s quest for the African Cup of Nations. The coach thus opted to use the other less famous but more capable players at the expense of a big name. You can only judge the validity of this decision accurately after watching the Senegalese team in the tournament.
3. Kwadwo Asamoah
Kwadwo Asamoah is still recovering from a knee surgery until spring, implying that Ghana will be lacking a very monumental player. His absence is valid, although the Ghanaian side could be much safer with him on the field. They face very tough opponents at the group stage and the absence of such impeccable talent is not doing them any favors.
4. Mehdi Benatia
Mehdi Benatia is also another missing ingredient in this year’s AFCON given that Morocco is no longer a CAF member after they pulled out of hosting the tournament amid Ebola fears. His fans will now have to focus on his club career at Bayern Munich.
5. Vincent Enyeama
Finally, there is the legendary Vincent Enyeama from Nigeria whose side failed to qualify for the tournament. The fans and football enthusiasts will miss his presence as he is arguably most talented goalkeeper in the continent.
People watch football for various reasons, and for those who do because of the big names may find this year’s AFCON rather wanting. The game however will not disappoint, as more stars are likely to shine brighter this time.