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AFCON 2021: Tactless Tackles And Why An African Country Won’t Win The FIFA World Cup Anytime Soon

The Oasis Reporters

January 10, 2022




By Garvey Ufot

Watching the opening football matches of the TotalEnergies 2021 Africa Cup of Nations underway in Cameroon, I was reminded of the reasons why many perceptive football pundits are sceptical about the possibility of an African country ever winning the FIFA World Cup.

First two matches, two penalties and a red card can only come out of Africa!


The sheer physical and brutal nature of the tackles observed in the match between hosts, Cameroon, and Burkina Faso, as well as that between Ethiopia and Cape Verde compels one to wonder what these players most of whom ply their club football trade in Europe have learnt.

The two games were reminiscent of a martial arts contest between Chinese kung fu and Japanese karate.

Contrary to the mantra that African football has come of age, I daresay that the two Burkinabe tackles which resulted in penalty kicks, after a string of unbelievably dangerous, career-ruining tackles by both sides, prove that the African round leather game has a very long way to go.

I mean, what were those players thinking? Who does that, cutting down opposing players who are not even goal-bound in such a cynical and brutal manner? Where is the cunning? Where is the artistry? Where is the finesse?

It would appear that these players have either learnt nothing from playing in the top leagues of Europe or they deliberately adopt a feeling of, hey, this is African football, and so there is no need for the finesse whenever they come for the Nations Cup.

I imagine the Europeans, South Americans and Asians watching those tackles and beaming in satisfaction to themselves confident that not only will FIFA match officials at the World Cup NEVER tolerate any such dangerous tackles as witnessed this evening but also that these African teams will make very little hay at the football Mundial.

It is such a burning shame!

To make matters worse, the studio pundits are an embarrassment. And in that I must single out Austin Jay Jay Okocha, who, like Victor Ikpeba, learnt absolutely NOTHING ELSE apart from football during his long sojourn in Europe.

It is inconceivable that a footballer of Okocha’s calibre who played for several European clubs most notably in Germany, France and England, the three countries which colonised Cameroon at different times, still pronounces the name ‘Cameroon’ in such an outlandishly illiterate manner as:

*/kemerəʊn/(i.e. kemeron)

It is amazing, to be honest, to think that in all his playing days in Europe, as well as in CAF and FIFA international competitions, listening to quality commentaries, Jay Jay Okocha did not encounter the correct pronunciation of the name of that country.

As I once posted on these pages, here is what the likes of Okocha should know about the name ‘Cameroon’:

Since Okocha played for Bolton Wanderers in England between 2002 and 2006, he could not have failed to notice that in English, it is spelt ‘Cameroon’ and pronounced:


(i.e. ‘kamerun’, almost similar to the first two syllables of the word ‘camera’).

Before that, playing for French club side, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), between 1998 and 2002, pray, how could the former Nigerian midfielder not know that in French it is spelt ‘Cameroun’ and pronounced:


(This is virtually the same as the English and indigenous pronunciations above save for the elision of the unstressed middle syllable).

Earlier, while playing for Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany between 1992 and 1996 — Cameroon was initially a German colony up till 1919 when it was partitioned into British and French colonies — surely, Okocha must have learnt that in German, the name ‘Cameroon’ is spelt ‘Kamerun’ and pronounced:


Again this is virtually the same as the English, French and indigenous pronunciations.

Thus, unless African players in Europe bring to bear on African football competitions, as well as its punditry, the athletic and verbal finesse learnt in Europe, i.e. artistry, not physicality, and Cameroon/ˌkæməˈruːn/, not */kemeron/:

Dr. Garvey Ufot is Senior lecturer in English Studies, Federal University, Oye – Ekiti in Nigeria’s South West

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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