Ducor Sports –A Look Back at Major Events in 2018
Ducor Sports gives a refresher of major sporting events in 2018.
The last 12 months have been at best tremendous for sports in Africa. There were agonies emanating from failures and successes registered which mercifully, happened to be the overriding vibe.
Ducor Sports gives a refresher of major sporting events spanning from January 2018.
There won’t be any genuine recollection of past happenings without a mention of the FIFA World Cup –the most expensive in the tournament’s history- staged over eleven cities at a tune of US$14.4 billion in Russia.
Featuring 32 teams, five of which came from Africa with 64 matches played, events in the Eastern European country also saw an increase in the use of arbiters from the continent, with six of the sixteen being top notch referees.
The irony is that this positive trend wasn’t reflective of the performances of teams from our part of the globe. Senegal, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia were the very best from Africa by virtue of their qualification to the tournament, but unbelievably, none went past the first round hurdle. Senegal started out brightly –the only shining light of a dim outing – following the humbling of Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. Then Nigeria reversed gears to shut down Iceland, reviving shattered hopes. However, this tinge of revival and fire of optimism lasted for the shortest of times. The end result; no African team breezed beyond the group stages, throwing question marks over the continent’s commitment to the sport.
Away from this low, joy awaited with Africa blossoming in the Commonwealth Games. South Africa carried the continent’s hopes delivering a better score of medals than Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Namibia and Mauritius. The Rainbow nation grabbed a total 37 medals 26 of them gold and bronze and 11 silver, wrapping up as the sixth most outstanding outfit in the table standings.
Still on South Africa, Kevin Anderson did the continent proud having reached the Wimbledon final prior to losing out to Novak Djokovic. In the build-up to this, 32-year-old sent Roger Federer packing in the quarter-final before sashaying over John Isner in the semis. It was one of the World number six’s biggest feat and certainly a highlight of the year for the tennis star.
We switch the gears to Nigeria. From qualifying for the Amputee World Cup to debuting in the Winter Olympics, despite finishing 19 out of 20, to seeing off England in the semis of the men’s tennis in the Commonwealth Games, then claiming gold to reach the Women’s Football World Cup to the D’Tigresses becoming the first team to win in the FIBA Women’s World Cup in Spain, Nigerians will agree 2018 was a huge success.
The Super Sand Eagles’ qualification for the Beach Soccer World Cup along with Senegal, only enriches an already impressive layers of triumph.
2018 also witnessed a huge gain in Senegalese wrestling– a multi-million dollar traditional sport watched by millions across Africa and beyond. Not only was a new king of arena installed as the ancient art also turned for the better following initial moments of gloom. The pay-per-view, introduced in the combat featuring Balla Gaye II and Gris Bordeaux, is today reason for wrestlers taking home millions in prizes, coming at a time uncertainty had gripped the sport.
In July, a new man in Eumeu Sene was enthroned as lord of the game. Sene from Pikine, east of Dakar, brought a gigantic Bombardier flat back down to earth. He will go into the New Year hoping to retain this title.
Back to football. If there ought to be a lowest moment in the African game then the Anas Anas controversial video has to be the one. Anas teamed up with the BBC to investigate endemic corruption in Africa which cost dozens their jobs, from Ghana’s disgraced football boss Kwasi Nyantakyi to referees.
The serialized video which filmed Kwasi stuffing wards of cash in a black plastic and referees accepting “gifts” to influence matches also led to the sacking of a Nigerian national team gaffer.
The saga led to the replacement of the Ghanaian FA, as a consequence, triggering indefinite suspension of the domestic leagues there which resumed only in recent weeks.
Kenya’s Arden Marwa Range was the worst affected after the bribery scandal forced him to resign from overseeing any game in the 2018 World Cup.
About the same time, CAF chose to expand its Nations Cup to 24-teams on the heels of an endorsement of the proposal by delegates.
Tripping further late down into 2018, the likes of Kenya, Uganda, Mauritania and Madagascar all made a historic march to the Africa Cup of Nations after sealing a spot each.
Over to boxing, Gambia’s and Mayweather supported Badou Jack retained his light-heavyweight and WBC Super Middleweight belts against Adonis Stevenson.
Wrapping up this piece we move to the news that shocked the world. The Confederation of African Football stripped Cameroon of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations citing preparation and security reasons. A replacement is yet to be named, though Egypt are tipped to be favorites to land the rights to host the finals next year.