From England to Brazil: The African Connection
The African continent has for long dreamed of its share of glory on the biggest stage of world football. Countries like Nigeria, Cameroon and Ghana have been consistently representing their continent in the FIFA World Cup since the turn of the decade, but apart from sporadic achievements by individual nations like in the ’02 (Senegal) and ’10 editions (Ghana), African football has remained a promise yet to be fulfilled.
England, meanwhile, has been a breeding ground for several of Africa’s top footballers. English clubs have time and again scouted for African muscle and stamina, and as a result, a strong contingent of Africans from the Premier League would be making their way to Brazil in the summer to represent the five qualified nations from Africa, namely Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Ghana and Algeria.
We look at all such players who ply their trade in the Premier League and will be flying to the ‘Promised Land’ in the summer for the world’s most celebrated sporting carnival, the FIFA World Cup 2014.
Côte D’ivoire boasts of the strongest Premier League contingent out of the all African teams which have booked a place in this year’s World Cup. The top ranked African team (World Rank- 21) will have the service of some of BPL’s finest players this season in Yaya Toure and Wilfried Bony. Ivory Coast has been pitted against Japan, Greece and Colombia in Group C.
Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
Undoubtedly the most complete midfielder in English football, Yaya Toure has been Manchester City’s player of the season with an exceptional record of 25 goals and 9 assists in 50 games.
He will be his nation’s biggest hope alongside Didier Drogba and Solomon Kalou. His countrymen would be praying that Yaya can takes the team to uncharted heights in football’s greatest summit.
Wilfried Bony (Swansea City)
When Wilfried Bony, fresh from a return of 36 goals in 37 games for Vittesse, signed for Swansea City last summer, very few expected him to successfully take the step up from Eredivisie to the Premier League.
Bony has confounded his critics all season and has been instrumental in Swansea’s late revival in the league. He has steered Swansea clear of relegation with a return of 15 goals in 33 appearances.
Kolo Toure (Liverpool)
The elder of the Toure brothers might be well past his peak; but Kolo has ample experience under his belt, having spent a majority of his career at top English clubs. The Elephants will be hoping that their first-choice centre-back can summon all his experience and energy for one last hurrah.
Cheick Tioté (Newcastle United)
Unconventional would be the perfect word to describe this combative midfielder. The indefatigable Tiote might not be the most gifted footballer in the world but he more than makes up for it with his sheer determination and doggedness.
The 27-year old might prove to be the perfect rearguard to Yaya Toure’s creative forays into the final third.
Other notable Premier League players:
Arouna Koné (Everton) – Currently injured, might not return to fitness in time.
Abdul Razak (West Ham) – Has played very little first-team football this season.
Yannick Sagbo (Hull City) – Has fallen down the pecking order at his club after the arrival of Long and Jelavic. With Drogba, Bony, Gervinho and Kalou already at Sabri Lamouchi’s disposal, Sagbo may not make the cut.
Lacina Traore (Everton- on loan from Monaco) – Has managed to make just one appearance in an injury-ravaged spell in England so far. He may suffer same fate as Sagbo.