Remarks by Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan earlier this month regarding the
contrasting values of the Africa Cup of Nations and the Fifa World Cup
has given cause for great debate among football fans, with his claim
receiving support and criticism in equal measure.
“If I don’t make it to Afcon it isn’t painful
because no one respects it but I will be
worried if I am not present at the World Cup,” Gyan told Kumasi-based Angel FM.
“The reason is everybody respects the World Cup,” he added. “The only
thing that can make me worried is not representing Ghana at the Afcon
but not the tournament itself. Any Ghanaian player who misses the
Afcon won’t be sad but will be very sorry if he fails to appear at the
Those comments got us at KickerGH talking as well and has prompted two
of our writers, Joshua Ansah and Sammie Frimpong, kicking it freely at
SAMMIE FRIMPONG — ‘Gimme the World Cup ticket, man!’
Perhaps Gyan is right.
The Nations Cup, like most things run by the Confederation of African
Football, is fraught with issues that have sullied its reputation, a
situation which seems to get a little worse with each passing edition.
From armed gunmen ambushing and effectively eliminating one of the
tournament’s participating teams at Angola 2010 before a ball was even
kicked to qualification secured via the laughable horrors of [drawing]
lots and deeply flawed officiating aiding the progress of one team at
the expense of another last year, consequently triggering ensuing
chaos, the Afcon never seems to run out of reasons to be devalued.
It’s why many African footballers based overseas and used to far
better standards, Gyan included, are increasingly dismissive of the
biennial competition, while their club managers aren’t always keen on
availing them to their national teams when the competition is due.
Even African nations themselves, once so enamoured of the Afcon, have
had their interest dwindling and are willing to commit so much less to
the experience — remember the public outcry that met Ghana’s proposed
$8m budget for the 2013 Nations Cup?
And, really, why would there not be when winning the Afcon — after
braving the Ebola scare and every other thing that could go wrong at a
Caf-organized event — rakes in only $1.5m, a mere fraction of the $8m
that appearing at the 2014 Fifa World Cup guaranteed!
Truly, the glitter that the Afcon is wrapped in remains only a facade
masking its cheap core and shocking lack of credibility. It’s only
worth our time — and the best footballers’ presence as well —
because the African game, in all its mediocrity, has nothing better to
offer. That aside, it’s crap.
JOSHUA ANSAH — ‘Heck, I’d take the Afcon medal anyday!’
Take a walk over to your ‘local park’ and you’d find a group of boys
who claim to be playing football just for fun or, at best, merely to
keep fit. As you observe, though, note how much emotion and exertion
they invest into the game in the attempt to win. The latter is so
because no matter how low the stakes are, the aim in football is
always to win — nothing more, nothing less. And that’s why when the
question arises as to whether an appearance at the Fifa World Cup is
worth more than an Afcon winners’ medal, I answer emphatically
and unhesitantly in the negative. It goes without saying that the
World Cup is among the most prestigious competitions in international
sport while the Nations Cup has lost some credence in recent years,
yet despite the drastic decrease in popularity of the continental
showpiece, it still remains the most coveted affair in Africa at
international level. Winning the Afcon is an honour no batch of Black
Stars have earned since 1982 when Emmanuel Quashie led his teammates
to glory in Libya.
While it may be far less lucrative than a glamour
World Cup appearance and all the delightful perks that come with it,
the truth remains that football ultimately is a winner’s game. The
Afcon is the biggest which could be won in these parts and, having
grown no easier to win over the decades, the math should be quite
Participants in any competition may never be forgotten, perhaps even
celebrated for a while, but winners are remembered forever. And that’s
why if I had to pick, I know which I’d rather be.