Leaders make the difference between success and failure

Kalidou Koulibaly

Senegal's defender Kalidou Koulibaly (centre) holds the trophy as he celebrates with teammates after winning their Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 final match against Egypt at Stade d'Olembe in Yaounde on February 6, 2022.
 

Photo credit: Charly Triballeau | AFP

What you need to know:

  • In 1996, Kenya surrendered the hosting rights for that year’s Afcon to South Africa “because it would cost six times more than we had expected.”
  • Clearly, we did not learn the first time.
  • In 2014, Cameroon (2019 edition) and Cote d’Ivoire (2021 edition) were also named as hosts.

In life, we are advised to learn from the mistakes of others because we can’t live long enough to make them all ourselves. Yet this hardly happens.

Africa is blessed with fertile soils, abundance of young and productive labour force, diverse and enjoyable climatic conditions, beautiful landscape, and so on.

Take the example of a young and productive labour force.

Depending on which countries we call home, young men are now either busy using their creativity to come up with technology to solve societal problems, or have been conscripted to serve as child soldiers for warlords with insatiable greed for power.

The type of leadership a country is blessed with makes the difference, and nowhere is this better exemplified than in sport.

This week, African football governing body CAF announced what we have known since June – that Guinea has been stripped of hosting rights of the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations because the country, which is one of the poorest in Africa, lacks requisite infrastructure and facilities to host the biennial tournament which was expanded to 24 teams in 2019 when Egypt hosted it.

At least six stadiums

Whereas hosting the continental competition requires at least six stadiums, Guinea, like Kenya, has just one international-standard stadium.

Guinea, which has been led by military junta since last year, has had almost a decade to prepare to host 2025 Afcon.

In 2014, the country had been originally penciled to host the 2023 Afcon, but was later asked to instead host the 2025 edition.

Until last year when he was dethroned in a military coup, President Alpha Conde could not use nearly 10 years to get his country ready to host the tournament.

Leaders make the difference! But he is not alone. In 2017, Kenya was stripped of hosting rights of the 2018 African Nations Championship (Chan), the tournament meant for players plying their trade in their domestic leagues.

It was the second time Kenya was losing the hosting rights of a tournament it had successfully bid for.

In 1996, Kenya surrendered the hosting rights for that year’s Afcon to South Africa “because it would cost six times more than we had expected.”

Clearly, we did not learn the first time.

In 2014, Cameroon (2019 edition) and Cote d’Ivoire (2021 edition) were also named as hosts.

An ill-prepared Cameroon was later stripped of the right to host the 2019 tournament which was held in Egypt instead.

Cameroon were then awarded the 2021 edition, which was staged earlier this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although the bidding process for 2025 Afcon will be reopened on Saturday, Algeria, Nigeria, South Africa, and Morocco have already expressed interest in hosting Africa’s premier national team football competition.

Reopen bids

When CAF’s executive committee meets in Algiers on Saturday to reopen the bidding process, Morocco’s heavy investment in infrastructure and sporting facilities, experience in hosting past sporting events, and forward-thinking leadership should give the country a headstart.

Due to time constraints (the new host nation only has between now and June 2025 to get everything in place), CAF will settle for a country with ready infrastructure and facilities.

If it does not go to South Africa, Morocco will take it for many reasons.

Moroccan national teams and clubs have been successful on several fronts.

Moroccan clubs RS Berkane and Wydad Casablance currently hold the CAF Confederation Cup, and CAF champions League titles respectively.

All-Moroccan affair

It was an all-Moroccan affair when the two clubs met in the Confederation of African Football Super Cup last month, an indicator of a strong domestic league.

Moroccan men and women’s national teams have qualified for the 2022 Fifa World Cup, and the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup.

Morocco beat Mali 2-0 in the final to win the 2022 Chan in Cameroon, and indicator of a strong domestic league.

Morocco’s Under-17 team has qualified for the 2022 World Cup which will be held in India.

The country also has modern football infrastructure on which it anchored its unsuccessful bids for 1994, 1998, 2010 and 2026 editions of the Fifa World Cup.

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Egypt is putting together a bid for Cairo to host the 2036 Olympic Games.

Last month when the International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach visited Cairo, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi gave his government’s backing for a possible bid.

Hosting the Olympic Games is a complex affair, and it is not just for the resources needed by the host city to pull it off.

 If successful, it will be the first time for Africa to stage the multi-disciplinary sporting championship, and it helps that Bach is of the opinion that Egypt’s sporting infrastructure gives it an opportunity to host the games.

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