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The Year Algeria Made Football & World Cup History.

It’s been 32 years since the Algerian national football team caused what some have named one of the ‘biggest upsets' in World Cup history by defeating then European champions West Germany. It's also been 32 years since Algeria was sabotaged in what The Guardian calls “one of sport’s most blatant cases of match-fixing.”

Qualifying for the first time ever, Algeria’s presence at the World Cup hosted in Spain that year was already an historic feat. The African team had been placed in a group that included Austria, Chile, and West Germany who they were scheduled to play against first.

On that June day in 1982, the North African novices faced reigning European champions West Germany. Many predicted a thrashing by the Germans who in turn didn’t shy away from making boastful statements about the game that lay ahead. One German player boldly declared before the match, “we will dedicate our seventh goal to our wives, and the eighth to our dogs”, openly mocking their Algerian opponents. Even the then West German manager, Jupp Derwall, reportedly said that if the Algerians won, he would “jump on the first train back to Munich.” Algeria defender Chaabane Merzekane recalled that one of the West German players said that he would play the match with a cigar in his mouth.

Well, if Derwall had any sense of foresight, he would’ve booked a one-way ticket back to Munich immediately. Better yet, if Derwall had only done his homework on the Algerian team, he may have refrained from making such a statement. Negligence on Derwall’s part would later mean that West Germany would be in for a great surprise. It was only after the match that Derwall admitted that he was given a footage of the Algerian players in action, as is customary, but did not show it to his team as they would have mocked him had he done so. Why? Simply because the Germans, whether out of racism or ignorance, did not think the Algerians to be worthy opponents.

In 1982, most of Algeria’s national football team was comprised of players who had been teammates for years as Algerian law at the time prohibited players from leaving the country before the age of 28, something that stemmed from the FLN’s role in Algeria’s history of independence and its influence on the country’s football team. All of the players had been based at home, as a result of this law, making their bond of the field exceptionally strong and fluid. Several former FLN players were part of the coaching staff in 1982, including Abdelhamid Zouba and the co-manager Rachid Mekloufi, and the spirit of Algerian pride that had been established by these players who left France to play for Algeria was present in the team. 1982 was also the 20th anniversary of Algeria’s independence. 

Algeria had successfully beaten Nigeria to be present at the 1982 World Cup and during their first ever match at this tournament, the determination and humility of the Fennec Foxes, as well as their skill, of course, would see them through to a 2-1 victory against West Germany. This victory made Algeria the first African team to defeat a European opponent at the World Cup. Their next match against Austria saw the tides turn as they lost 2-0, but against Chile, they regained their form and won that match leaving them with four points from their three games (back when it was two points for a win).

Now, their fate of progressing became dependent on West Germany failing to beat Austria the next day. But both the Germans and Austrians both knew that if Germany beat Austria 1-0, it would result in both teams progressing to the next round at Algeria’s expense. Thus, both teams conspired to achieve this result - a distasteful case of match-fixing that forever changed the world of football. After Germany’s Horst Hrubesch put his team in the lead at the 10th minute, both the Germans and Austrians basically did nothing for the next 80 minutes. No attempts at goal, just an hour and 20 minutes of kicking the ball around.

As The Guardian points out, “the game was no longer a contest, it was a conspiracy.”

Both the Austrian and West German teams were scorned by the public. Algerian fans in the crowd burned peseta notes to show their suspicions of corruption. Spaniards in attendance waved hankerchiefs throughout the second half in a traditional display of disdain. The following day, Spanish newspapers denounced the actions of both teams and there was outrage in West Germany and Austria too.

German commentator Eberhard Stanjek, working for German channel ARD, almost sobbed during the match and said: “What is happening here is disgraceful and has nothing to do with football. You can say what you like, but not every end justifies the means.” His fellow Austrian commentator suggested viewers turn off their TVs and he refused to speak for the last half-hour. Former West German international Willi Schulz branded the German players “gangsters”.

But these ‘gangsters’ remained unapologetic through the criticism, backlash and protesting. When German fans gathered at the team hotel to protest, the players responded by throwing water bombs at them from their balconies.

The head of the Austrian delegation, Hans Tschak, made this extraordinary racist comments about the Algerian team: “Naturally today’s game was played tactically. But if 10,000 ‘sons of the desert’ here in the stadium want to trigger a scandal because of this it just goes to show that they have too few schools. Some sheikh comes out of an oasis, is allowed to get a sniff of World Cup air after 300 years and thinks he’s entitled to open his gob.”

Not ones to stoop down to the level of their European opponents, the Fennec Foxes remained publicly unphased by these comments. As Merzekane recalls, “We weren’t angry, we were cool,” he says. “To see two big powers debasing themselves in order to eliminate us was a tribute to Algeria. They progressed with dishonour, we went out with our heads held high.”

All over the world, people called on FIFA to punish the Europeans or stage a replay, but in the end all that was done by them was to rule that from then onwards the last pair of games in every group would be played simultaneously. Algeria had come to the World Cup and made history in more ways than one. They had left an “indelible mark on football history.”

(sources: 1 | 2 | 3)

Algeria Football Team Given A Heroes Welcome Upon Return From Brazil.

In contrast to the reactions shown by officials from the other African countries that competed in this year’s FIFA World Cup, the Algerian national team were given a hero-like welcome upon their return home from Brazil.

Having been one of two African countries to make it to the round of 16, the team achieved victory by being the first African team to score four goals at one match in World Cup history, and also became the first Algerian team to progress beyond the group stage at the World Cup.

Although they were defeated 2-1 by Germany, the support from their fellow Algerians remained strong even after their loss, so much so that the Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal personally greeted and thanked the players as they arrived home. The team has also decided to donate their  prize money to the people of Gaza saying that they needed it more than the team did.

Talk of money amongst the other African teams begun even before kickoff with Cameroon refusing to board their plane over wage disputes.

During the tournament, Ghana’s presence was marred by a bonus money airlifting scandal, Nigeria refused to attend practice over bonus money issues and had to be reassured by the president that they would receive money owed to them, and Cameroon is being investigated following match-fixing claims. Both Cameroon and Ghana’s Presidents have called for investigations into their teams’ performances at the World Cup. Algeria and the Ivory Coast are the only two African countries that were controversy free during this year’s World Cup.

And where Nigeria’s coach Stephen Keshi resigned from his duties as Nigeria’s head coach, despite winning last year’s Africa Cup of Nations (the second man as player and coach to achieve this title), and having gotten the Super Eagles to the last 16 stage of the World Cup, Algeria are keeping Bosnian coach Vahid Halilhodzic.

Keshi’s resignation has not been made formal yet but there are already talks that he might become Bafana Bafana’s new coach.

Despite the controversies surrounding the West African teams, often attributed to the corrupt practices of soccer officials in their countries, this World Cup was monumental for Africa in many ways. From having two teams in the round of 16 for the first time ever, to Asamoah Gyan’s top African player scorer feat.

See footage of the Algerian team’s return parade.

More African World Cup History Made As Algeria Defeat South Korea 4-2.

Just when we though things couldn’t get better for Africa at the World Cup, Algeria played a phenomenal game against South Korea scoring a total of four goals - the most scored by any African team in one match at the World Cup ever.

Algeria have qualified four times for the World Cup, in 1982, 1986, 2010 and of course, 2014. During their World Cup debut in 1982, they caused  “one of the great World Cup upsets on the first day of the tournament with a 2–1 victory over reigning European Champions West Germany.” This was also the last victory Algeria saw at the World Cup, until today.

South Korea did put up a good fight scoring two goals in the second half after being down 3-0 at half time. South Korea’s worst loss in World Cup history was in 1954 where Hungary beat them 9-0.

Algeria only need one more point to qualify for the next round.

They face Russia on Thursday.

On Africa and the World Cup by Nate Holder.

We all know that Africa is not a country, nor are we a homogenous group of people aligned in culture and interest from Cape to Cairo. So why is that during the World Cup, individual African teams are burdened with being representatives of the entire continent?

One thing that has always caught my attention is how Africa and African football teams are spoken about at the World Cup. It seems as though the last African team left in the tournament somehow carries the hope of not only their nation, but the whole continent of Africa. Headlines such as ‘Ghana – Africa’s Best Hope in Tough World Cup Pool’ and ‘Why do African teams underperform at the World Cup?’ are common and go without questioning if the idea itself makes sense. The idea that African teams are spoken about in very different terms to teams from the rest of the world. Listen closely at how many times commentators and presenters will say things such as, ‘These players are not just representing their country, but are also representing Africa’.

Though Ghana were knocked out of the 2010 World Cup by Uruguay, the fact that they reached the quarterfinals was seen as not only a triumph, but a possible glimpse into the future as Ghana equaled the best result by an African team in World Cup history. Watching Luis Suarez’ handball and sending off, Asamoah Gyan’s subsequent penalty miss and Abreu’s audacious chip to win it was one of the most heartbreaking events in recent World Cup history. It endeared Ghana and in particular Asamoah Gyan, to hearts all over the world; not just African hearts.

In a BBC World Cup preview show some nights ago, Reggie Yates spoke about the history of African sides at the World Cup and about the chances of Ghana escaping the group of death this year. He quoted the African saying, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’. But on a continent where approximately 2000-3000 different languages are spoken, not to mention possibly 8000 dialects, the idea of the “African proverb” makes no sense. Africa is not a country. To even think of referring to a saying as a “European” or “South American” proverb is almost unheard of, so why is Africa excluded from this consideration? Lately, in talk of the World Cup, it often seems as though Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Algeria all get lumped together when the need to explain how they perform and where they come from arises.

Speaking of under-performing, do African teams really underperform?

If we go by appearances in the last 16 stage (that is countries that qualify from their group), we see that Africa is actually the 4th most successful continent over the last 6 World Cups. The 3rd most successful is North America, with 9 appearances in the knockout stages to Africa’s 5 (Asia has 4, while Oceania has 1). When it comes to quarter-final appearances however, Africa beats North America 3:1, with quarter-final appearances by Ghana (2010), Senegal (2002) and Cameroon (1990) to the one appearance by the USA in 2002. So in terms of progression in the tournament, African sides come in 3rd after Europe and South America. South Korea earned Asia’s only spot in the quarter finals of the 2002 World Cup and Oceania’s furthest foray was in the last 16 with Australia in 2006. So do African teams really under achieve? I’ll leave that to you to decide.

Did Germany carry the hopes of Europe when they reached the final of the 2006 World Cup? Do the defending champions Spain go into this years tournament being spoken of as Europe’s best hope of a World Cup? Much has been made of the socio-economic problems that Brazil has, and we have heard over and over again, that failure for Brazil to win the World Cup would be a disaster for its people. Would it be a disaster for the rest of the South American continent? Of course not. Perhaps many Argentinians would relish seeing Brazil knocked out before them. After all, Brazil represents Brazilians. Greece for Greeks. Iran for Iranians. Cameroon for…Africans? Sure many Africans will hope that other African side do well, but I’m sure an Ivorian would much prefer to see Ivory Coast progress rather than supporting the African nation with the best squad, out of a sense of ‘Africanism’?

If Nigeria reach the World Cup final against Brazil on the 13th July, many Africans will be cheering for Nigeria. Maybe, just maybe, there will also be some Africans watching the same game wearing Neymar Jr on their backs.

Read his blog and follow Nate Holder on Twitter.

Here’s how the world’s best would stack up in a World Cup with no first-generation immigrants.

With the current anti-immigrant sentiment sweeping many parts of the Western world gaining more and more traction, Global Post has taken on the conservative approach to this issue and applied strict immigration policies to the teams of the 2014 World Cup.

Global Post compiled the list by selecting only the group favorites and the “big losers.” Not all players are represented as they focused solely on those who are the most integral in their respective teams.

From their list, we’ve selected a few teams that represent the most black players, players of African descent and those whose background is related to Africa or the diaspora in some way.

ITALY:
Italy loses  Fiorentina forward Giuseppe Rossi was born in New Jersey and AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli, born in Palermo, has parents who immigrated from Ghana.

FRANCE:
France can hardly field a team without its immigrants. It drops Bacary Sagna and Mamadou Sakho, whose parents were born in Senegal, and Patrice Evra, who was born there. It also loses Blaise Matuidi, whose father was born in Angola; Eliaquim Mangala, whose parents were born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rio Mavuba, whose father was born in Zaire and mother in Angola, Moussa Sissoko, whose parents were born in Mali; and Marseille midfielder Matthieu Valbuena, whose father was born in Spain. And don’t look for as much flash without Karim Benzema, whose father was born in Algeria. France also loses Paul Pogba, whose parents were born in Guinea.

GHANA:
Ghana keeps Kevin-Prince Boateng and gets back Jerome Boateng from Germany — their father was born in Ghana, though the brothers were born in Berlin. The same goes for  Jordan Ayew, whose parents were born in Ghana though he was born in France. As a final bonus, Ghana picks up AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli, whose biological parents were born in Ghana, from Italy. It also gets Danny Welbeck, whose parents were born in Ghana, from England.

GERMANY:
Germany lose superstar Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil, whose father was born in Turkey; Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira, whose father was born in Tunisia; and Lazio striker Miroslav Klose, who was born in Poland. They’ll also take the field without Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng, who has roots in Ghana; Sampdori defender Shkodran Mustafi, whose parents are Albanians born in Macedonia; and Lukas Podolski, who was born in Poland.

PORTUGAL:
Portugal loses Real Madrid defender Kepler Laveran Lima Ferreira, aka Pepe, to his native Brazil. It loses Fenerbahce S.K. Defender Bruno Alves, whose father was born in Brazil. It also drops Luis Carlos Almeida da Cunha, aka Nani, who was born in Cape Verde (independent from Portugal since 1975), and FC Porto winger Silvestre Varela, whose parents were born there. Lucky for them, Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo, whose great grandmother was from Cape Verde, isn’t an immigrant by our rules.

USA:
Tthe melting-pot nation loses Sunderland striker Jozy Altidore, whose parents were born in Haiti; Tim Howard, whose mother is Hungarian; AZ striker Aron Johannsson, who was born to Icelandic parents in Alabama; and Rosenborg midfielder Mix Diskerud, who was born in Norway. We’ll also take away LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez, whose parents were born in Mexico, and Nantes midfielder Alejandro Bedoya, whose father was born in Colombia.

BELGIUM:
The fathers of both Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany and Everton striker Romelu Lukaku were born in what is today the Democratic Republic of Congo. Everton striker Kevin Mirallas’ father was born in Spain. Marouane Fellaini’s parents were born in Morocco. FC Zenit Saint Petersburgmidfielder Axel Witsel’s father is from France. And Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Mousa Dembele’s father was born in Mali.

(edited from source)

H/T katebomz

World Cup 2014 Fan Favourite Posters created by Jon Rogers.

Vancouver designer Jon Rogers created a series of posters depicting the fan favourite player, according to Bleacher Report, from each country participating in this year’s World Cup. Above are the posters of players from the African teams currently playing in Brazil for a chance at football’s most prestigious trophy.

FIFA U17 WOMEN’S WORLD CUP: QUARTER-FINALS STAGE.

Out of the three qualifying African teams at this year’s U17 Women’s World Cup that began on March 15th, hosted in Costa Rica, two - Ghana and Nigeria - have made it to the quarterfinals stage.

With only one win out of three against hosts Costa Rica, Zambia’s losses against Italy and Venezuela respectively sealed their fate early in the tournament denying them any chance of advancement out of the group stage.

Ghana was the first team in the tournament to make it to the knockout stage after beating Germany 1-0. Emerging at the top of their group with 6 points, Ghana kicked off their start in the tournament with a 2-0 win against North Korea followed by their win over Germany. Their loss to Canada didn’t hurt their chances of moving forward due to the negative results of Germany and North Korea.

Nigeria have smooth sailed their way through the tournament. Without a single defeat, the team made it to the quarterfinals at the top of their group with 9 points. The U17 ladies beat China PR 2-1 in their opening match, followed by a win over Colombia with the same result, ending with a 3-0 victory over Mexico.

In the quarterfinals, Ghana is set to play Italy on March 27th. Nigeria are pit against Spain on the same day.

Good luck ladies!

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All Africa, All the time.

A Quick Who’s Who: African Representatives at the Sochi Winter Olympics 2014.

Name: Mathilde Amivi Petitjean
Country:
 Togo (Born in Niger to a Togolese mother, raised in France).
Participation: 
10K classical-style cross-country race

Name: Alessia Afi Dipol
Country:
 Togo(Originally Italian, Dipol is a naturalized Togolese citizen).
Participation: 
Women’s slalom alpine skiing.

Name: Luke Steyn
Country: Zimbabwe (Harere-born but attends university in the US. The only African representative born in the country they are representing, this year).
Participation: Men’s slalom and giant slalom.

Name: Kenza Tazi
Country: Morocco (Born in Boston).
Participation: Women’s slalom and giant slalom.

Name: Adam Lamhamedi
Country: Morocco (Born in Montreal, Canada to a Moroccan father and Canadian mother).
Participation: Alpine skiing. He won gold in the Super -G at the Olympic Youth Games in Innsbruck , Austria, in 2012, becoming the first person from an African nation to win a winter related Olympic medal.

For all Sochi Winter Olympic updates and athlete profiles visit their official site.

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All Africa, All the time.

CHAN2014 Semi-Finals: Ghana and Libya advance to the finals.

Both Libya and Ghana headed into penalties to secure their position in the CHAN2014 finals. Libya beat first-time finals hopefuls Zimbabwe a narrow 5-4 and after Nigeria missed two penalties, Ghana took their place alongside Libya with a 4-1 win. 

(images via CAF FB)

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All Africa, All the Time.

#CHAN2014 Updates: who’s through to the semi-finals?

After being down 0-3 againnst the Lions of the Atlas Mountains, Nigeria beat Morocco 4-3, scoring 3 goals in the second half and their winning goal in extra time, to make it through to the semi-finals of the tournament.

Zimbabwe made history for qualifying for the semi-finals round for the first time ever in the team’s history after beating Mali 2-1.

The heated match between Libya and Gabon saw the former team qualified by beating Gabon 4-2 in penalties.

Ghana’s 1-0 win, with a goal that came about as a result of a penalty kick, was regarded with a lot of controversy by many DR Congo fans on twitter who claim the ref did not handle the game fairly.

Upcoming matches: Semi-Finals (Weds. 25th Jan)

  • Libya vs Zimbabwe - 5pm CAT
  • Nigeria vs Ghana - 8:30 CAT

(all images via CAF)

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All Africa, All the time.

Zimbabwe and Morocco join Nigeria and Mali as both teams progressed to next stage of CAF / Africa Cup of Nations after defeating Burkina Faso and Uganda respectively. 

Nigeria beat hosts South Africa 3-1 on Sunday whilst Mali ousted Mozambique with a 2-1 defeat on the same day.

These four teams will meet each other at the quarter finals.
 

A great weekend for West African football

Three epic football matches occurred this past weekend with each involving great gains for West African football. 

In a fiery game between Chelsea and Manchester United, Cameroonian striker Samuel Eto’o wow’d fans and rivals alike with his spectacular hat-trick that ensured the Mourinho-led team a solid victory against the Red Devils who were on home turf.

On Sunday, the last games for Group A in the Africa Nations Championship took place in South Africa. Nigeria and Mali were the first teams to progress from the group stages and qualify for the next round in this year’s CHAN tournament.

Hosts Bafana Bafana were chowed by the Super Eagles who scored their first two goals in the first half of the game with a brilliant goal from Ejike Uzoenyi in the 22nd minute, and another goal in the 32nd minute scored by Rabiu Ali after a foul from South Africa’s keeper lead to a penalty kick. Although South Africa managed a goal in the second half, with a third goal from Nigeria already in the net, it was far too little too late for the home squad.

In another West Africa vs Southern Africa showdown, Mali defeated opponents Mozambique 2-1 to advance with Nigeria to the next phase of the tournament.

All CHAN upcoming fixtures can be found here.

The third annual Orange African Nations Championship kicked off in Cape Town, South Africa this past weekend with four opening games that saw surprising results throughout.

Originally scheduled to take place in Libya, the North African country had forfeited its right to host the tournament after post-Gaddafi conflict that broke out 2011

The opening ceremony saw local stars Jimmy Dludlu and Mi Casa take the stage, accompanied by stunning displays and acts. Following this concert, Bafana Bafana took to the field in the first game of the tournament against fellow Southern African nation Mozambique. The home side beat their Lusophone neighbours 3-1 in a much-needed victory for the home side. 

Following this match, two heavyweight West African teams went head-to-head as Mali faced Nigeria. In what many say was a surprising finish, Mali defeated Nigeria 2-1 sending jitters down the nerves of the Super Eagles. 

Sunday saw Zimbabwe draw 0-0 to Morocco, and another surprise came about in the form of Uganda beating Burkina Faso 2-1 with two goals from Sentamu.

The tournament continues today with Ghana playing Congo, and Libya taking on Ethiopia. 

(all images via CAF)

About a year or a two ago, I came across an article somewhere on the web that talked about how Sierra Leone locals were trying to revive their country’s tourism industry after it had been marred by years of a terrible civil war. In particular, part of these efforts were being channeled into building up both a culture and industry around surfing, a sport originally developed by the native Polynesians in Hawai’i, as the western coast of Sierra Leone is home to a number of beaches that make for some pretty good surf locations.

Whilst not on the level of more mature surf industries and primary surf locations, there are at least four beaches in Sierra Leone that those who visit the country can venture on to with their surfboards in tow: River No.2 beach, Aberdeen beach, Bureh beach and Sulima beach

Out of the four listed above, Bureh beach seems to be gaining the highest level of popularity, probably due in part to the Bureh Beach Surf Club (BBSC) of which some of its members are pictured above as part of a photographic essay by Sierra Leone-based photographer Tommy Trenchard.

The BBSC was set up in 2011 as a non-profit organization in and is the country’s first and only surf club. Bureh is a small fishing village that is about an hour and 30 minutes drive from the capital Freetown.

So if you were thinking of visiting Sierra Leone, or looking for a place to vacation in Africa, these spots are definitely areas to consider. For those who possess ECOWAS passports, you can get passport stamped upon arrival if all your documents are intact. But be sure to check with the Sierra Leonean embassy where you live before departing. Non-ECOWAS passport holders will need visas upon arrival into Sierra Leone.

Dedicated to supporting youth in Ethiopia through the promotion of skateboarding and other education initiatives, Ethiopia skate was started in 2012 by 16-year-old Abenezer Temesgen, who fell in love with skateboarding two years ago and has since taught 25 kids how to skateboard, and his partner Sean Stromsoe, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

With plans to launch Ethiopia’s first public skate park, Skate Ethiopia needs as much support as they can get to successfully carry out this plan and make this dream come true.

Here’s the first video from the organization introducing their project and the guys behind this great initiative.