With 45 African players in the English Premier League (EPL), Africa is slowly taking over influence in European leagues at the moment.
Of the 20 EPL clubs, only three teams do not have African players. Ironically, two of the three are Manchester United and Arsenal which is a great disappointment to their huge fan base on the continent.
Nine of the 30 goals on the opening day were scored by African players. And after four games, Africans have scored 18 of the 99 goals so far.
However, their star power and guile is not having a similar impact on their national teams here in Africa as the continent is yet to win the World Cup.
But African football continues to grow as results from the second round of 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon matches indicate minnows standing up to teams previously viewed as giants. There are no longer small teams in African football.
Nigeria, the 2013 Afcon Champions, escaped with a point in Tanzania after the Taifa Stars pinned the super Eagles in their half, giving new coach Sunday Oliseh a scare on his first competitive match.
Mauritania beat South Africa (3-1), Botswana beat 2013 finalists Burkina Faso (1-0) while Liberia beat Tunisia (1-0) in their first match after the Ebola outbreak.
And South Sudan which only played their first competitive match in 2012 after the country was born, won their first competitive match on Saturday after they beat Equatorial Guinea whereas Malawi, after 51 years, failed to beat Swaziland, escaping with a point after a 2-2 draw. No minnows in African football.
I have to admit that the turn of fortunes at Lali Lubani cannot go unnoticed as the team has scraped through to the quarter finals of the Standard Bank cup just a few days after winning the Carlsberg Cup. I hope self confessed Nyerere sympathisers will acknowledge, as I pointed out in last week’s entry, Elia Kananji’s influence on the team. I hope Bullets are looking for a better replacement of Ramadhan.
Now turning to the Premier League, there are interesting matches today beginning with Chelsea’s visit to Goodson Park in an early kick-off. Mourinho will face John Stones the defender he failed to prise away from Everton. But Jose Mourinho should not expect any leniency from Stones. He will want to justify why he is being billed as one of the best defenders in the league presently. Chelsea need to do more to win this match given their sloppy start to the season.
Arsenal face physically astute Stock City in a match that promises more fireworks. Crystal Palace host Man City in a strange top of the table fixture as Palace are second behind City. Palace are not on second position by fluke. This is a match you do not want to miss. It’s a cracker.
But it is the late kick off between Manchester United and Liverpool that everyone will be looking forward to. Both clubs are coming from humiliating loses last week and they are keen to make amends. n