- In many ways, it brings to light a good measure of excitement from an African perspective, one that has eluded us since Senegal’s shock exit in Russia due to Fifa’s fair play rule.
A year from now, Africa’s biggest football showpiece will take place in June/July for the very first time away from the January/February/March schedule it has had since inception in 1957.
In a preamble of sorts, today’s semifinal between Belgium and France in a déjà vu tie presents an opportunity to see sons of the soil tussling it out for a chance to win the world’s biggest showpiece this Sunday.
Kevin de Bruyne, who could have turned out for Burundi through his mother Anna de Bruyne who was born there, holds all the cards in that forward setup but will be challenged by a Guinean by origin Paul Pogba.
That juicy battle has had its moments in the Manchester derby already but seeing this on another platform presents a perfect way to gauge their individual brilliance and their power to work with those around them.
Like France, Belgium find themselves at a place where they cannot do without these players with a deep-rooted African heritage.
It will make for good viewing indeed especially for our Congolese brothers who now have to split their allegiance.
Six Belgian players Romelu Lukaku, his brother Jordan Lukaku, Vincent Kompany, Dedryck Boyata, Mitchy Batshuayi and Youri Tielemans all have roots from the Democratic Republic of Congo but so do the French trio of goalkeeper Steven Mandanda, Steven N’Zonzi and Presnel Kimpembe.
Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli (Morocco), Kevin de Bruyne (Burundi) and Mousa Dembele (Mali) complete the lineup of Belgian players with an African heritage and indeed this has the continent in sixes and sevens.
In many ways, it brings to light a good measure of excitement from an African perspective, one that has eluded us since Senegal’s shock exit in Russia due to Fifa’s fair play rule.
Perhaps Ugandans can focus on the black, yellow and red colours of the Belgium flag that are similar to those of their own since no Ugandan player of origin is playing for either side!
*The writer is a journalist with SuperSport Television