A sad email from an Angolan friend yesterday morning finally gets me writing about the Africa Cup of Nations
. Just this once I'll mention the championship of countries that keeps Africa under its spell until February 10. I am not going to utter profundities about football - I'll leave that to sympathetic sports loving colleagues like Marc Broere
on the extensive website Road to 2010
. But it is a nice opportunity to say something about the backgrounds of some of the matches. For example why the game Angola - South-Africa
earlier this week was nothing less than an African version of a match between the Dutch and the Germans.
All seemed to be running smoothly for Angola Wednesday night. Manucho
- the Angolan who plays for Manchester United and who is one of the stars of the tournament - scored the first goal quite early in the game which his team dominated. But in the 87th minute South-Africa managed to turn the game into a draw - final score 1-1. Hence the disappointed Angolan email I received in my mailbox the next morning. The day before, the writer of the message had explained to me that the combination Angola - South-Africa in football is at least as emotionally charged as a Netherlands - Germany game.
The Angolans do have many a bone to pick with South-Africa. Not only the apartheid regime backed up Jonas Savimbi's Unita, but it also violently invaded Angola several times. Namibia at that time was still a colony of South-Africa, and the South-African leaders did not want the marxist MPLA ruling neighbouring Angola.
The struggle between MPLA and Unita dragged on for 27 years and cost the lives of half a million people. It only ended with the death of rebel leader Savimbi in 2002. Obviously South-African support was not the only factor that kept the Angolan civil war
going, but it's easy to understand why the average Angolan doesn't necesarrily sympathise with its big southern neighbour. That's why many an Angolan had hoped that this time at least on the football field the national team would be able to conquer the South-Africans.
Right, at last I managed to talk about the Africa Cup, without having to write too much about football. ;o)