Africans rising at World U17 tournament

Discussion in 'Africa' started by deciiva, Sep 2, 2007.

  1. deciiva

    deciiva New Member

    Aug 11, 2004
    New York,NY
    Africans rising at World Under 17 tournament
    By Rob Hughes Published: September 2, 2007

    Soccer renews itself at a pace almost too swift for natural evolution. Boys can outwit men, as Pelé proved in winning a World Cup with Brazil at the age of 17 and as Cesc Fàbregas demonstrated the moment he left Spain at 16 and made passes in England's Premier League that outsmarted seasoned adults.

    So the boys of 2007, now entering the final week of FIFA's World Under 17 tournament in South Korea, hold few surprises for us. Some of them are pre-destined to play for Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and the like - pre-paid, you might say.

    But it is the trend that is significant. It is the way that young Africans are eclipsing South American boys that suggests that Africa's turn is finally coming, that the skills on that vast continent might be storing up a genuine challenge at the 2010 World Cup, and beyond.

    If you have seen anything of the Under 17 matches, this will not be lost on you. Ghana's so-called Black Starlets, having already sent Brazil out of the tournament, outplayed Peru in a quarterfinal Saturday.

    On Sunday, Nigeria, bigger and stronger but maybe not as fast or as enchantingly gifted as some Ghanaians, proved superior to Argentina, 2-0.

    All three performances left little to doubt about African potential. Ghana outmuscled and outlasted Brazil, and then in every way - from athletic speed to imagination to desire and unquenchable spirit - erased the best youth side Peru has had in decades.

    The Nigerians possess a tendency similar to the Ghanaians to live dangerously, to pour forward as if defense is the last thing in their makeup, and simply to believe that the game is about scoring, so they will score the goals.

    The celebration in victory is almost as captivating as the young goalkeepers of both nations. The goalkeepers live on their instinct, their acrobatic reach, their almost reckless charm. They get there, somehow, but so much is left to chance.

    And when the games are over, the Africans cartwheel in delight, then huddle in prayer while the Latinos add tears to the monsoon rains across South Korea.

    Who or what can stop them? Spanish know-how, perhaps, because the young Spaniards, under the tutelage of Juan Santisteban for the last time, are semi-finalists again.

    Santisteban, as a promising 16-year-old, was plucked out of an orphanage to play alongside Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas in the great Real Madrid side of the 1950s. Of the current Spanish national squad, Iker Casillas, Carles Puyol, David Silva, Xavi García, Cesc Fàbregas, Joaquín, Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres all came up through the ranks of Santisteban's youth production.

    Spain versus Ghana at Ulsan on Wednesday could be the ultimate contest of this tournament. Spain has dominated Europe, but not, yet, won the World Under 17 trophy.

    Maybe this time? Maybe the old trainer can impart sufficient knowledge, maybe he has the luck, because in expunging the gifted French side from the quarterfinal at the weekend, Spain hung on to tie the score 1-1 through extra time, and to win the penalty shootout.

    For now, we will see if Spain can deal with Ghana. History is actually on the side of the Africans because Ghana has won the Under 17 world title twice, in 1991 and 1995, while Nigeria was the champion in 1985 and again in 1993.

    We thought then that that was the emergent generation of the African continent in soccer. European clubs soon mined the Africans of many a young, rough, uncut diamond. For all manner of reasons, few were able to step up to the mantle of Eusébio, the pearl from the then-Portuguese colony of Mozambique who in the 1966 World Cup was the explosive star of Portugal.

    The early acquisitions of young Africans, by Belgian, French and Italian teams, and later by English and German teams, too, often destroyed the talents rather than enhanced the teams they joined. It is an old debate whether the Europeans lacked the patience or sensitivity to integrate the boys, or whether the youngsters lacked belief and education enough to flourish.

    European clubs today have a backbone of African skills, sometimes sheer African physical might, as in the case of the Ghanaian Michael Essien of Chelsea or the former Arsenal strongman Patrick Vieira of France, who was born in Senegal and now plays for Inter Milan.

    The youths now performing in South Korea are most likely already earmarked for Europe. Brazil might have lost to Ghana, but its wing backs are already signed up by Manchester United.

    Those players, attack-minded and adventurous in the manner of Cafu and Roberto Carlos, are brothers. In fact, Rafael and Fabio are identical twins, except that Rafael wears the No. 2 shirt and plays on the right while Fabio wears No. 6 and is the left back and captain.

    As promising as their futures look, they came to the tournament in the shadow of Lulinha, the young playmaker whose balance and inventiveness burden him with the label of the "new Ronaldinho."

    There were glimpses of Lulinha's craft before Ghana put him out. We have seen enough of Toni Kroos, the fledgling Bayern Munich player, to appreciate why Germans rate him the most promising rising star of his generation.

    But again and again, it is Africans who catch the eye. For Ghana, Daniel Opare speeds out of defense with such alacrity that he wins territory with the ball quicker than opponents can track him.

    Ransford Osei is a predator who, game after game, finds the net, like the remarkable moment when his colleague Isaac Donkor struck a post with an overhead kick and Osei scored from the rebound against Peru.

    It would have made Osei the leading contender for the Golden Boot, except that Macauley Chrisanthus of Nigeria, tall, quick, and deadly accurate, swooped again on Sunday to score his sixth goal in five matches.

    There is about this boy a presence, a self-awareness bordering on arrogance that might mark him out as a man of the future. For now, he is just doing his thing as a teenager - a Golden Eaglet.
  2. FCDallasDynamo

    FCDallasDynamo New Member

    Jul 7, 2007
    Wow ..It would be great to have Both EURO teams out.....GHANA VS NIGERIA FIANL.
  3. Energizer

    Energizer New Member

    Aug 28, 2007
    I would have to agree that Africa is becoming an increasingly more potent footballing force, and that the future looks bright. However, the powerhouse African nations seem to all be West African. If one looks at the Premiership and other prominent leagues, there are many stars from Ghana, Senegal, the Ivory Coast, and the like, but few from other regions such as North and Southern Africa. I must admit that these players are very well suited to top flight football, as they are pacy and strong, and very skillful to boot (sorry for the pun) :rolleyes: It remains to be seen what the future holds for other countries though, as there are only some players (like South African Benni McCarthy), that have made a significant impact in elite club football in recent times :(
  4. Intelligence

    Intelligence New Member

    Jul 31, 2007
    Macauley Christanus is a wonderfull player . His composure in front of goal for 1 so young is quite amazing and its a fine attribute to have .

    Looking forward to seeing where he goes from here as he can be come one of the worlds top strikers if he puts alot of time and effort into his game.

    Good look for Africa , I really enjoy your type of game alot and I want one of you too win the U17 World Cup .

    Good Luck !

    OYEWALE New Member

    Feb 8, 2007
    Chrisantus is a classy striker.So composed in front of goal-----scores Henry-like goals.
  6. StarStopper

    StarStopper Member

    Oct 30, 2006
    That's a very valid point that you've made. I think the main reason for this phenomina is that unlike the southern region of Africa where football is sometimes second to rugby and cricket in popularity, in West Africa football is the one and only sport that captures the hearts and soul of the people. There's history, there's passion and it's much more deeply ingrained in the culture just like the way it's revered in South America.

    In East Africa, football is popular but in Kenya and Ethiopia for example, long distance running is also a favourite sport. I think North Africa has a very similiar passion for football as well.
  7. FCDallasDynamo

    FCDallasDynamo New Member

    Jul 7, 2007
    I think Nigeria Is going to be too much for Spain....:D...I think this is going to be a great generation coming up. although for those of us African here we all know most of them reduced their age....Cause we just do...I know we do it....

    I hope they ...well I am sure they will win ....
  8. usausa-redded

    usausa-redded Red Card

    Aug 28, 2006
    Nigeria was awesome in this tournament. Have you seen how Nigeria massacred Japan? it was awesome!

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