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The ex-Nigeria midfielder claims the beautiful game is witnessing a meteoric rise from the Africa Cup of Nations point of view

Former Nigeria international and La Liga legend Mutiu Adepoju says the level of African football has gone up significantly in the recent past.

Using the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations as a yardstick for his assessment, the ex-Racing Santander man disclosed that football on the continent has come of age, although there is still room for improvement.

At Egypt 2019, the biennial African football competition was expanded from 16 to 24 countries with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology introduced from the last eight.

Also, debutants Madagascar pulled off a shock by reaching the quarter-final, while defending champions Cameroon, Morocco, Ghana and hosts Egypt were sent packing in the Round of 16.

To the ‘Headmaster’, all these are indications that the sport is thriving on the continent while mentioning the exodus of African players to Europe as a reason for the progression.

“The level of football in Africa has really gone very high,” the former Shooting Stars, Real Sociedad and Samsunspor man said on La Liga’s Inside Show.

“During our time, we played good football but with the type of players, we have now, the type of facilities they are exposed to at the moment, the technology and everything has made players be able to give their best.

“With what I saw at 2019 Afcon, I was really happy for the standard and it shows that any team in Africa can beat any country if care is not taken.

“You have seen South Africa defeat Nigeria at home; the same thing at Afcon where we have seen so many upsets with so many small teams giving problems to the so-called big teams.

“So, the standard is very high and that has to do with our players playing in Europe and all the development we are having in Africa.

“We are not there yet because we have to do more to get what is obtainable in Europe, but I still feel the standard in 2019 was good and I’m happy with it.”

The 2021 Afcon is billed for Cameroon but the Confederation of African Football (Caf) is yet to confirm if the competition will go on as planned or be postponed.

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic placed football-related activities on a hiatus in most parts of the world, including the Afcon qualifiers.

 

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