AFCON: all about the fans’ celebrations

Windhoek – Although the quality of football exhibited at the just-ended African Cup of Nations (AFCON) might have been below par, one thing for certain is that celebrations make up soccer in Africa.
Although Africa has produced some of the biggest names in the modern-day game of football across the globe, interest in the sport goes way beyond the ability of players to entertain on the field of play.
This was exhibited during AFCON 2013, which rounded off with a 1-0 win by Nigeria against Burkina Faso.
During the tournament, fans across Africa curved out a niche for themselves that made drama on the terraces just as interesting as the drama on the field of play.
With such hype around the beautiful game, this year’s AFCON did not disappoint in terms of celebrations by both fans and players.
It all started with the hilarious bum-bouncing goal celebrations from the Democratic Republic of Congo’s goal minder Robert Kadiaba, who ‑ in one way or the other ‑ left many across the world wondering how far an African player or fun can go in celebrating a goal.
Not to be outdone were the Nigerians, who eventually won the tournament with their waist-wiggling celebrations whenever they scored.
The fun in celebrating a goal in Nigerian terms does not end with dances on the field but they also have devoted a brass band that plays instruments the entire 90 minutes.
In the past, the Nigerian brass band has been renowned for its choir master, who apparently does not need to look at the game for a second but has to make sure the music is churned out much to the amusement of the players on the field.
While the Nigerians had their backing band, South African fans just showed they knew how to blow their vuvuzelas.
It got to a point where none among the South African fans cared whether the team was winning or not. In their own little way, they had to blow support behind their team until they were satisfied.
Other teams whose legion of fans would not go unnoticed at the AFCON were Ghana and Mali.
For these two West Africans, a goal literally translated from some fancy footwork dances by the players on the field to dancing by face-painted fans on the terraces, most of whom would be carrying clay pots the entire 90 minutes.
The Ghanaian fans would celebrate in song and dance but not a single clay pot would fall off.
There is also one thing about fan celebrations in African football, and that is, when all the dance moves or all the hilarious acts are exhausted it all boils down to the Mexican wave.
Whether started in support of the winning or the losing team, for a while the fans forget they are in different camps and unite in driving the African Mexican waves.
The AFCON tournament was not spared such accidental unity by the fans as they celebrated last week.
“Drama on the terraces was just as interesting as the drama on the pitch.”

February 2013
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