Riyad Mahrez, Diedonnei Mbokani, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mohamed Salah are among the stars at the Africa Cup of Nations.
“The pattern has become familiar: a country wins the right to host a tournament and there is excitement, then come doubts about costs and readiness, but in the days before the event, the negativity falls away and excitement takes over. Not here. In 2015, Gabon stepped in to replace Libya as the hosts because of the conflict there but, as the 31st Africa Cup of Nations approaches, there is a clear sense a significant proportion of the country does not want it to happen.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson
“Before the BBC African Footballer of the Year 2016 launches on Saturday, BBC Sport looks at all the previous winners. The prize started life as the BBC African Sports Star of the Year award in 1992, when Ghanaian footballer Abedi Pele was the inaugural winner. The format has evolved and now a shortlist of five players is announced following a poll of football journalists from every country in Africa – after which a public vote decides the best for that year. Names etched on the trophy include George Weah, Didier Drogba, Jay-Jay Okocha, Yaya Toure and Sammy Kuffour.” BBC
“No news, they say, is good news. Either that or it’s the result of a government blackout. The draw for the Africa Cup of Nations will be held in Libreville, Gabon, on Wednesday but yet again the buildup to a tournament has been dominated by doubts over where it will be staged as the aftershocks of Gabonese presidential elections continue to be reverberate.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson
“Peter Ndlovu was the first. Now 246 African players have played in the Premier League since it began in 1992, scoring 1,776 goals in 14,210 appearances. Chelsea legend Didier Drogba has scored the most goals (104), Kolo Toure has made the most appearances (349) while Nigeria (35) has contributed the most players. As the Premier League live fan park comes to Cape Town this weekend learn all you need to know about African players in the English top flight.” BBC, BBC – You can read an accessible version of this graphic here.
“In early September 1899, 111 years before South Africa’s World Cup and with the Boers and Britain manoeuvring back towards war, 16 black footballers – captained by a grocer and accompanied by four officials from the whites-only Orange Free State FA – arrived by steamship at Southampton for the start of a 49-game continental tour. Just two years after the Corinthians had won 21 and drawn two of 23 fixtures against the likes of Cape Town Civilians, Military and the Orange Free State, the inaugural South African squad to play in Europe were greeted with open ridicule, prejudice and unabashed racial stereotyping.” Football Pink
“There are times when interviewing footballers feels like trying to squeeze blood out of a stone. They bombard you with meaningless clichés about taking things one game at a time – as if it’s possible to take it two games at a time. A Mamelodi Sundowns player, caught up in this robotic speak, once declared he was happy that his team got the three points they were looking for after they had won a cup game. That player wasn’t Teko Modise. In fact, the two-time PSL footballer of the year is a pleasure to interview with his candid nature, insight and engaging personality. It’s a skill the 31-year-old honed at a young age.” The Con
“On December 5th of last year, South Africans bade farewell to Nelson Mandela. In general the new republic’s founding father was remembered as a principled, but pragmatic political leader. Some media coverage, however, reduced him to a one-dimensional figure, at odds with the larger South African struggle. That Mandela advocated armed struggle and formed alliances with communists was conveniently downplayed by all sorts of political causes and personalities whose politics Mandela would have opposed while he was alive, but who now claimed him as one of their own. Mandela was also favorably compared to his former wife Winnie Madikizela. His time in prison, presented as character-building, was contrasted with her increasing radicalism and criminal actions in the 1980s. Most black South Africans, however, were not scandalized by Mandela’s one-time celebration of violent struggle or his communist leanings, or by Winnie’s complicated, but flawed, legacy, which was formed in a more compromising, violent outside.” Roads and Kingdoms