International football star in the 80s, the Algerian Rabah Madjer praises the African Nations' Cup.
FRANCE 24: You have competed seven times in the final phase of CAN, winning the title in 1990 in Algiers. What are the differences between the 2008 competition and the preceding ones?
Rabah Madjer: There’s an obvious difference in the competition’s public image and global profile. Although the event’s essence is the same - crowning the continent’s best football team - its dimensions have evolved. CAN is a full-scale sports event today. The games are broadcast across the African continent and get attention around the globe. This is radically different from the first edition in 1957, in Khartoum, where the games were played in obscurity with no media coverage. Moreover, CAN has turned into a worldwide football market, since African talent is greatly valued within European clubs. Every two years, dozens of football professionals, club chairmen and agents rush to the event to search for new recruits.
FRANCE 24: Where would you place the African Nations cup on the scale of international competitions?
Rabah Madjer: I'd put it after the World Cup, the Euro and the European Champions League. CAN gets better media coverage than the Copa America, at least in Europe. This is due to the presence of the best African players in European clubs. In terms of quality, CAN is well ahead of the Asian Cup and the Olympic football tournament.
FRANCE 24: Everyone has a personal forecast on the competition. What’s yours?
Rabah Madjer: It’s an open competition. Four or five teams can seriously hope to get the crown. I’m thinking of the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Nigeria and Ghana, which has the advantage of playing at home. Although their results are uneven, the North African representatives (Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco) have some good arguments to push. But they remain beneath the Ivoirians, Cameroonians and Nigerians.
Date created : 2008-01-17