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Abedi Pele saddened by giants absence at 2012 AFCON

Published on: 18 January 2012


Ghana legend Abedi Pele has bemoaned the absence of big name teams at this year's Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

Record winners and defending champions Egypt leads a host of high profile teams which also includes Cameroon, Nigeria and South Africa who failed to qualify for the biennial showpiece.

Rather, relatively unknown sides such as Botswana and Niger will be featuring at the 28th edition of the finals and this the ex captain of the Black Stars admits takes some of the excitement away from the competition.

“It is sad, really sad,” said the three-time African Footballer of the Year with a sigh as he reflected on the missing giants, “because these are big-name football countries who bring excitement to the game throughout Africa.”

“If you defeat Mauritania to win the Cup of Nations it will not be the same as defeating Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Nigeria or South Africa to win it,” said the 1991-1993 African Footballer of the Year who helped Marseille conquer Europe.

“Having said that, a trophy is a trophy. If you are able to lift the Cup of Nations it means you have worked hard for it and you have sacrificed so much,” stressed the Accra-based businessman and football club owner.

Pele however noted that the emergence of new teams  at the AFCON could re-enforce the paradigm shift in African football.

“There are going to be a lot of surprises in this tournament because the teams who have qualified are not going to central Africa for a holiday.

“With the absence of some great countries, the small nations want to beat the big ones. Botswana and Niger will target the likes of Ivory Coast, Ghana and Senegal.”



This article has 11 comment(s), give your comment
  • Reeves says:
    January 18, 2012 10:18 am
    well said pele
  • Adazu M says:
    January 18, 2012 10:51 am
    Todays football doesn't respect giants. Why is Man U out of champs league?
  • JNR says:
    January 18, 2012 11:40 am
    As much as i respect you Abedi, i think you are wrong there. If these so-called big footballing nations were good enough then they would have qualified as expected but there are no more small nations in terms of football.
  • texas says:
    January 18, 2012 12:13 pm
    Please come again Abedi! What is sad about their absence ? Why are you respecting countries that don't respect Ghana as far as football is concerned? They could not qualify because they are not good enough to qualify so please give respect to the countries that qualified. And they are not giants of African football. This is silly...these so called giants fumbled in the last two afcons and world cups, and even at the junior levels of FIFA competitions yet you call them giants.
  • Chris opoku: SA. says:
    January 18, 2012 01:14 pm
    No, so far as nigeria, south africa etc teams, pele did mention are not there doesn't mean that AFCON is not going to be excited, i disagree with you Pele, they are not capable to be there that's why thier not there which ever country win the cup is gonna be football history. It doesn't mean you beat Niger or Botswana.
  • REALITY says:
    January 18, 2012 02:04 pm
    I think Pele should stop making these comments and show some respect to all the teams that qualified.In fact this statement is not helpful,not even to our players who will be out there to fight hard for the cup.This so called big teams issue should be put aside and respect should be shown to the qualified teams. Mr. Abedi.You are highly respected and a great footballer,Please,don't spoil your good name in the face of the qualified nations.
  • coconutman says:
    January 18, 2012 02:15 pm
    Football should not be about names it should be based on merit alone. I am sadaned not by the absence of the traditional big names like Nigeria and Egypt and Cameroon but the fact that you allowed your son to take the number 10 jersey from Kwadwo Assamoah. No matter how talented Dede is Kwadwo Asamoah should have kept the number 10 shirt for Ghana. They are both equally good and we should have waited to see which one of them breaks out and become a world legend before switching the number 10 to Dede. I am hoping both Dede and Kwadwo Asamoah proves who is trully deserving to wear the number 10 for Ghana. The so called minnows of African football got to the tournament on merit alone and I am not sadened at all that South Africa and company did not cut it this year. If a country puts in the work they deserve to be in the tournament ahead of the so-called big names.
  • Chris opoku: SA. says:
    January 18, 2012 02:25 pm
    Coconutman, pls leave the jersey aside and share your view. Pls my man. Your bless
  • ampem says:
    January 18, 2012 06:39 pm
    What a joke! All the teams went through a qualification process and the so called giants could not do the do. Abedi should respect the other countries that worked hard to qualify
  • Kwame sampson says:
    January 18, 2012 10:25 pm
    Abedi pele whatever he calls himself is an ass hole.
  • Harry O says:
    January 20, 2012 11:05 pm
    I am sorry Mr Abede Pele but you are wrong. They all played in the qualifier and were rubbish. So please don't make them feel better than those who qualified. They are has beens.