Why The Neutrals Would Love Cape Verde To Shock Ghana!
Sports Features of Friday, 1 February 2013
Source: Anane, Kwame
On Saturday, most neutrals would secretly be hope Cape Verde beats Ghana to continue their ‘Cinderella’ story in the 2013 nation’s cup. There was just something unique about the way the whole team joined their coach, Lucio Antunes at the post match pre conference to celebrate their passage into the quarter finals! These days it’s common to hear many fans argue that footballers have lost touch with the game and that players only cared about money and fame. On the contrary, it was very refreshing to see the ‘blue sharks’ restore some faith back in the game with their genuine happiness for making the people of their island proud!
Mind you; this is not a team that made the quarter finals through sheer luck. They’ve played some lovely football too. In fact as the 15th best team in Africa, Cape Verde were the highest FIFA ranked team in Group A anyway – even better on paper that Morocco and South Africa. Players like Platini, Heldon, Julio Tavares and their captain Nando Neves have been true ambassadors of Cape Verdean football so far at the tournament.
So why the sudden rise of football in Cape Verde? The island has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of FIFA’s development projects. There have been a number of artificial pitches constructed on the island to solve the problem of lack of grass pitches. The extreme salinity of the soil on the island makes it difficult for grass to grow properly. So you can imagine how proud FIFA must be to see their success story knock out mighty Cameroon to qualify and now continue to surprise so many fans in South Africa!
Of course over the last 3 years since Lucio Antunes became national coach, he has helped bond together a group of players who love, respect and enjoy the way he wants them to play. Antunes, affectionately called ‘mini Mourinho’ by his admirers, is still believed to work part time as an air traffic controller in his home country but is equally one of Africa’s best tactical brains at the moment. Surely the week he spent in December 2012 with Real Madrid and watched Mourinho at work would have done a lot for his confidence and experience. So let’s be realistic now. Are we saying Cape Verde will beat Ghana? The odds are heavily against that scenario happening because of the quality of the Black Stars team and previous results. The last meeting between the two teams was in November 2012 when Ghana won 1-0 in a friendly played in Lisbon. Ghana’s 4-0 win away at Cape Verde in 2005 still comes up as one of the biggest defeats the Island has so far suffered. However, Kwesi Appiah, the Ghana coach has warned his team to be very cautious of the Cape Verdeans because he reckons the islanders ‘have nothing to lose’.
So which Cape Verde team will turn up on Saturday? Will it be a team that has no pressure to win and therefore express themselves freely and surprise another one of the heavyweights? What if their achievements so far in the tournament become a mental hindrance to their dream progress into the semis?
Of course there is also the question of what the future holds for this Cape Verde team after the Nations Cup. Will their steady rise in African football continue or will we look back on their recent performances as another flash in the pan. I guess we will get a good indication from how they perform against the Black Stars on February 2nd! Isn’t this why we love football?
By Kwame Anane – Sports Writer, France
NB: Please insert the picture of the Cape Verde team celebrating at the post match press conference.