The WC 2006 is abuzz with the possibility of a Brazil- Netherlands, Brazil- England, or even a Brazil-France showdown in the finals. If Brazil is the constant, then all the other teams mentioned have as much right and talent to challenge Brazil. And if they do, no one will grudge them that distinction.
But what about the Ivory Coast, Togo, Ghana, Tunisia, and Angola who all qualified for this World Cup? Except for Tunisia, the other four qualified for the World Cup for the first time. And in doing so cast aside the traditional powerhouses like Senegal, Cameroun, South Africa and Egypt. What is more astounding is that in the African Cup of Nations held recently, the World Cup qualifiers Togo, Ghana, and Angola tumbled out in the group matches. The level of competition is that intense. The top rated African countries are Nigeria, Cameroun, and Egypt.
Amongst the WC qualifiers Tunisia finishes 4th, Ivory Coast 6th, Ghana is 8th, and Angola and Togo round off at 12th and 14th, respectively. In between there is Senegal, Morocco, Guinea, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.
The talent level in Africa is astounding. Hadji Diof, Kole Toure, Drogba, Adebayor, Eboue, Akwa, Figuerido, Essien, Sissoko, Camara, Eto'o, Amoah, and Fadiga. And this is just a few of the leading lights. Most of them play for the European clubs. They can and already give the Ronaldinhos, Ronaldo's, Kaka's a run for their money. Samuel Eto'o is on track as La Liga's top scorer. If there ever was a unified Africa team and I hope to God there will be one in the future, and they get a chance to play together on a fairly frequent basis, then Brazil will have more than they can handle. Forget the EU XI with England included. They would not be able to touch an Africa XI.
But we still consider African countries as rank outsiders based on the few African successes in the WC barring an exceptional performance by Cameroun in the 1990 World Cup when they reached the quarterfinals.
I have a feeling that is going to change dramatically in the next few World Cups. And soccer will be the better for it.The World Cup in South Africa 2010 will see the African countries come into their own, and for a long time to come.