Bring the Nations Cup home
A record eight countries ‘ including four from this part of the world ‘ will today begin the tough battle to win the hearts and minds of the leadership of the Confederation of African Football. Namibia, Mozambique, Angola and Zimbabwe carry the region’s torch in the battle to bring the Nations Cup finals ‘ the biggest football festival on the continent ‘ to this part of the world for the first time in 14 years. South Africa, who will make history by becoming the first African nation to host a World Cup finals when the global football road show rolls into town in four years ‘ was the last country from this region to host the Nations Cup in 1996. Libya, Nigeria, Senegal and a joint bid from Equatorial Guinea and Gabon will be the other candidates vying to host the 2010 Nations Cup finals. Today all the countries will present their bids to the Caf leadership hoping to make the shortlist, of at most four countries, who will then go into the final battle to host the tournament. An inspection team from Caf will then visit the countries on the shortlist in July and August to assess the facilities before the hosts are named on September 4. We at the Southern Times believe that it is time for the Nations Cup show to come back to this part of the continent. We believe that 14 years is a long time and the Caf leadership, which has always been accused of being biased towards the North and West parts of this continent, have a golden chance to show the world that such beliefs are not entirely true. The decision by the Caf leadership to take away Zimbabwe’s rights to host the 2000 Nations Cup finals, based on flimsy excuses that the nation was not ready to play host, only added weight to the belief within this region that there is outright bias against this bloc. Issa Hayatou and his crew have a moral obligation to give the people of this region what we believe is their right to host the continent during the 2010 Nations Cup finals. And, we don’t think we are asking for special favours because we believe that all the four nations from our region who are in the race have the right facilities, which compare favourably with any on the continent, to host a tournament of such magnitude. With consideration being given to such factors as the regions where previous finals have been held, language, footballing aspects, government guarantees and organisational ability, we believe that our four candidates have the best prospects of those in the race to host the showcase. Mozambique and Angola have the advantage that there has never been a Portuguese-speaking country that hosted the Nations Cup finals. Zimbabwe will be hoping that they also get the sympathy vote after the way their rights were violated by the same Caf leadership six years ago. Namibia will be banking on a booming economy and surging interest in football in that country while it is also true that because of its historical links to South Africa, it can also look to Big Brother for help. Mozambique appears to have done the early running and look to be in prime position to win the race but nothing can ever be taken for granted in the weird world of football politics. We hope that this time the voting process will be fair and our only appeal to the Caf leadership is that please cast your net wider and spare a thought for the people of Southern Africa who have never hosted a Nations Cup in 14 years. Please, bring the 2010 Nations Cup home to Southern Africa. After all, in 2010, the entire focus will be on this part of the world.