Steve Bloomfield's book is a well-written, easily-digestible run through some of Africa's nations, using the narrative of football to provide a context for the political goings-on in those countries.
It's a concept that could easily appear a little glib or patronising, but his journalistic style, which combines reportage with historical background, steers clear of either.
He is able to describe the progress or otherwise of a football team in a match or over a campaign in the same style as the progress of a country towards (or more usually away from) democracy and fairness, and talk about how their national teams can at the very least offer a hope that many African nations, with their uneasy histories and tribal divisions, can see that there are ways of joining in a common cause.
The football reporting is done well and not, in my opinion, so over-detailed as to be off-putting for those not aren't very familiar with the game to be overwhelmed.
But most importantly, the football stories provide a bit of light relief and hope amongst the tales of, largely, mis-managed and corrupt nations, often at war with themselves or neighbours, and whose people are almost permanently unable to avoid being downtrodden.
It's what makes this book on a par with Richard Dowden's excellent, more detailed and very sobering 'Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles', which chapter after chapter details the often-depressing political and social histories of many African nations, but not always with the element of hope and lighter moments which Bloomfield brings to his book.
Important and well-written though it is, Dowden's work can make taxing bedtime reading, whereas Bloomfield's is a much easier task, not because he shies away from the dark side of what goes in in various nations, but through the hope and occasional humour of episodes involving those countries' national sides.
It's also a great way of engaging the reading football fan with African issues in the context of the current World Cup.
There is a growing consensus, supported by those such as Dowden and Jonathan Dimbleby's recent TV series on Africa, that the continent needs to be understood as a more complex beast than the one portrayed by TV news reports of refugee camps and starving children. African music is one way of showing this, and the its growign popularity should be welcomed, but success of its football teams should be another. The message is simple - given a chance ordinary African people can develop skills and talents which compare in quality withteh West, but with their own stylistic and cultural twists.
As I write the host nation are preparing to take on France to try and make the second round. Let's hope the miserable French side do their duty, roll over and allow Africa a little more hope...