It is Christmas in Africa. Except replace the snow with grass, replace Santa’s little helpers with 23-man rosters from 16 nations, replace Santa Claus with South African President Jacob Zuma and a dash of extra scandal, and remove all presents and replace them with the Africa Goblet of Nations. All of a sudden, just like I said, it is Christmas in Africa. Clean out your chimney, the fun starts now.
Is it possible you wouldn’t know an authentic American soccer voice if it hit you in the face with the sweet, super-sized sound of freedom and fireworks?
As you’ve already heard, SI’s Richard Deitsch reported that Fox is grooming American play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson, primarily a basketball man, as the voice of the 2018 World Cup. Johnson’s first major gig was yesterday’s under-the-radar UEFA Champions League tie between European minnows Manchester United and Real Madrid.
After several years of major U.S. networks announcing the addition of non-American voices to the soccer booth, Fox’s decision to position Johnson to join the lovely and talented Arlo White, Ian Darke and Martin Tyler in the “I talk about soccer on American TVs” ranks should be welcomed with USA! chants and a Harlem Shake video, right?
No Kevin-Prince Boateng (retired), no Sulley Muntari (recovering from injury/left behind), no Michael Essien (perpetually injured, pulled out), no Jordan Ayew (excluded for “footballing reasons”), no Andre Ayew (failed to turn up for a medical assessment), no compelling replacement for veteran goalkeeper Richard Kingson, and a captain, Asamoah Gyan, who, at the ripe age of 27, is still scoring buckets of goals, but in the UAE Pro-League. Yet many voices, presumably on reflex, have been adamant that the Black Stars are the team to beat at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations.
He has the reputation of being one of the most sophisticated soccer minds around. He’s a philosopher, a sports psychologist, a leader, and so much more. But of all of his special gifts, what stands out the most – aside from his uncanny, Houdini-like ability to escape from precarious situations – is his psychic ability.
These are the words world-famous soccer expert and South African President Jacob Zuma shared with a group of what South Africa coach Gordon Igesund believed were his nation’s finest unretired, uninjured players in the days preceding the first throw-in at the 2013 Orange Africa Cup of Nations. Continue Reading »
It’s that time again. That moment when there are stories to tell about my favorite country-within-a-country, Africa. It’s that time to delve into narratives that don’t involve warfare, starvation, Sally Struthers, Bono, Madagascar or Madagascar II: Escape to Africa, Madonna adopting Malawi, or any other variation of mega-celebrity adoption, or as I call it, Afrodoption. I know, contain yourself.
That’s right, the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations … I’m sorry, the 2013 ORANGE Africa Cup of Nations kicks off today (Saturday) at Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium … I’m sorry again … National Stadium, Johannesburg’s National Stadium. Keeping track of all these naming rights wrinkles is proving to be quite the challenge for a simple person like yours truly. Like the majority, I’m just interested in watching people in matching outfits kick a ball around well-manicured grass that was, in my imagination, hand-cut with barber scissors by a solitary and official title-wielding groundskeeper named Thabo.
But I digress.
What you are witnessing in the video above is an official promo from South Africa’s undisputed ESPN, SuperSport. The official-sounding theme music you hear in the background, behind all the fancy sound effects and that faux-American-sounding Casey Kasem radio/TV voice (which is a subject to be bookmarked), is Nigerian artist D’banj’s “Top of the World.” That’s fun, isn’t it? Which brings us to a favorite topic around here -- music. Continue Reading »
American soccer was walking down a bustling downtown street surrounded by international soccer when it stumbled upon puberty. With nowhere to hide and needing the approval of others to flourish, it had no choice but to publicly confront this new reality. It was exposed, and there was no turning back.
The raw exposure was accompanied by all the familiar yet uncomfortable trappings that one associates with navigating formative years in front of hoards of judgmental onlookers. Demands for MORE entered the echo chamber, fueled by what seemed like nothing more than hormonal instinct and peer pressure. Bigger, bigger, faster, faster, stronger, stronger, more virile, more virile, BIGGER, FASTER, STRONGER, MORE VIRILE!
And as American soccer publicly matured, the need to flex and demand respect from the outside world — a competitive reflex affiliated with adolescence — took root.