All eyes will be on Bahia, Brazil on Friday, and the draw for the 2014 World Cup finals. It seems crazy that it is four years since the very same draw was about to take place in Cape Town.
I can still clearly remember sitting in the giant hall at the International Convention Centre, as Charlize Theron brought a touch of Hollywood glamour to proceedings, and Bafana Bafana were dealt a tricky-looking draw, one that proved too much for Carlos Alberto Parreira’s men.
This time Bafana Bafana fans can only look to Brazil with envy, as South Africa stumbled again in the face of the unfortunate circumstance of having to qualify for a competition.
In 2010, it was only really after Bafana had been eliminated, that South African supporters began to adopt Ghana in their numbers, the cringeworthy acronym “BaGhana- BaGhana” taken up by a nation.
Now, if supporting the continent is your bag, you can go for BaGhana right from the start, or Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Algeria – the five African World Cup qualifiers.
All will be hoping for a kind draw when the balls emerge in Rio, at about 5pm local time. Ivory Coast might feel they are owed more favours than most, after finding themselves in two successive “groups of death” in 2006 and 2010.
Widely seen as the most powerful side in Africa at both those tournaments, the Elephants couldn’t find their way past Argentina and Holland in 2006, or Portugal and Brazil in 2010. To my mind, Didier Drogba and his side are a little past their best now, and I don’t fancy their chances of getting out of the group stages in Brazil, whoever they draw.
The two sides I think have the best chance of making an impact for Africa next year are Ghana and Nigeria.
Ghana were a penalty kick away from becoming the first African side to make a World Cup semi-final in South Africa, and their demolition of Egypt in the World Cup play-offs suggested they are also in the mood to make a mark in Brazil.
The Black Stars boast an extremely strong midfield, containing the likes of Sulley Muntari and Kwadwo Asamoah, while up front, Gyan is still there, alongside young talent like Christian Atsu and the Ayew brothers from Marseille.
Nigeria, meanwhile, have done brilliantly under the stewardship of Stephen Keshi, winning the Nations Cup earlier this year, with John Obi Mikel reveling in a more creative role, and Emmanuel Emenike and Victor Moses making an impressive attacking impact. - The Star