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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Afcon certain to throw up surprises

29th January 2012

This year’s edition of the African Nations Cup in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, has already provided some interesting talking-points, even though we are only one week into the highly coveted tournament.

For instance, one dominant theme that has emerged over the past week, is the realization amongst football fans that the hitherto yawning gap between the heavyweights and small fry of African football, while still formidable, is certainly shrinking.

This could plainly be seen in the way that giants such as Ivory Coast and Ghana, went about claiming unconvincing victories in their respective opening games against opposition who would be considered inferior, at least on paper.

In fact, it could even be argued that evidence of this shrinkage, came to light ahead of the big kick-off in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, last weekend.

Consider the jaw-slackening fact that perennial title contenders such as Nigeria, Cameroon and defending champions, Egypt, all spectacularly failed to qualify for the ongoing prestigious championship.

This gradual shift in power in African football holds some important lessons for us here in Tanzania.

All too often in the past, we have adopted a defeatist attitude whenever we have been drawn in the same qualifying group with veritable titans of the African game.

Indeed, it could be said that we give up far too easily, which stands in contrast to the courageous example that has been set by so-called minnows such as Niger and Botswana.

Thus, as we prepare to face future challenges, it would be wise of us to draw inspiration from the fairy-tale sagas of these previously disregarded teams, who both qualified for the African Nations Cup, for the first time this year.

However, Botswana’s sterling success was not achieved by an iron-will alone as they meticulously prepared for two years before embarking on their quest to qualify for the Nations Cup.

Thus, if their route to football respectability can pay dividends, why don’t we emulate them?

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