West African nations dominate showpiece

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By DAVID KWALIMWA
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The West African contingent here, which consists thousands of football mad fans, journalists and top football officials, have continued to brag about their continental dominance, with the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations a perfect case study.

Rightfully so given that three West African teams, namely Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Ghana, are through to the semis, leaving Egypt as the sole representative of the ‘rest’ of Africa, so to speak, having secured the remaining semis berth.

What’s more, nine of the 16 nations that qualified for this competition are from, you guessed it right, West Africa.

That includes tiny Guinea Bissau who qualified after beating Kenya home and away, and securing passage from a group that also included Republic of Congo and former champions Zambia. East Africa’s sole representative, Uganda, and Zimbabwe from Southern Africa fell by the way side at the first hurdle without winning a game.

But this West African dominance isn’t by default. Rather, it comes as a result of  genetic set up which supports playing football, structured preparations, a historic association with the French and support from the government.

The French connection has enabled hundreds of French speaking African players move to the European nation at an early age to receive football education at academies and clubs.

The French in return have also set up several academies in West Africa, turning the region into a “factory” of top notch quality players.

“West African countries understand the value of football. The returns in most cases are even more than when one invests in education,” Caf’s media director, Junior Binyam, a Cameroonian explained.

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