Here is the correlation between urban population and success
Posted Saturday, October 19 2013 at 01:00
Since inception East Africa has never had a representative nation at the World Cup. In fact only Zaire (1974) and South Africa (1998, 2002 and 2010) are the only non-North or West African teams at the World Cup.
1998 and 2002 were a bizarre one-off, odd as it sounds, for South Africa while 2010 was gifted by Fifa and its host country compliments. On the other hand Zaire being the geographical behemoth it is may touch East Africa but its soul is definitely West African.
And it appears that this trend will continue even at Brazil 2014. For example of the 10 nations fighting for the 5 available slots to Brazil 2014 only Ethiopia can be said to be East African.
Even then it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon following a first leg 1-2 loss to Nigeria in Addis Ababa last weekend. So why is East Africa yet to deliver a representative? I imagine football researchers would be interested in establishing if indeed it is the yams that produce specimen like Burkina Faso’s Aristide Bance or if we lack the education that produces the technical sophistication of the North Africans.
Such a research would however suffer from lack of historical data because we Africans cannot be said to be strong on written records and have traditionally tended to rely on stories passed down over generations. But as we all know memory is a very unreliable witness for history and creativity can’t be a substitute for facts.
Nonetheless with the spread of information technology has come some advantages and a quick search on Africapedia reveals some light but very interesting data.
If this source is to even be half believed there is a correlation between the urban population size, the age of a country’s football clubs, and the football success of a given nation.
This may not be that obvious elsewhere but in Africa all the countries that have registered any continental success are home to the largest cities and the oldest football clubs on the continent.
Take Cairo for instance with its 16 million people. It is also home to two of Africa oldest football and most successful football clubs Al Ahly (106 years) and Zamalek (102 years) who between them have won 25 continental trophies. As a nation Egypt is also record Afcon winner, Africa’s first and most consistent representative at the World Cup.
Interestingly (with a few exceptions like Luanda) the next top 10 most populated cities in Africa are also home to some of the oldest and most successful football clubs on the continent. Needless to say these are all to be found in North or West Africa and in countries that have gone on represent Africa at the World Cup or dominated continental football.
Back home in East Africa our cities are small and our clubs relatively young some of them like Express FC starting in 1957 half a century after El Ahly launched.
The conclusion to be drawn from this is that a big urban population is more likely to give rise to successful football clubs which then feed successful National teams. So East Africans dreaming of a World Cup representation may have to wait another 40 years.
Then our clubs will wait 100 years as our cities metropolises to match Cairo and Lagos.
THE CAIRO EXAMPLE AND CLUB SUCCESS
Take Cairo for instance with its 16 million people. It is also home to two of Africa oldest football and most successful football clubs Al Ahly (106 years) and Zamalek (102 years) who between them have won 25 continental trophies. As a nation Egypt is also record AFCON winner, Africa’s first and most consistent representative at the World Cup.