Top critical review
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Colourful and Chaotic
on 17 September 2009
This book opens with a gem of an anecdote concerning a vice-president of FIFA entering a lift in the Zurich hotel where the 2010 World cup location was to be decided. Legend has it that on entering the lift, he was undecided. On leaving the lift in which he had come across a certain Mr Mandela, his vote was for South Africa. Egypt had sent Omar Sharif, Libya Colonel Gaddafi....
Hawkey certainly knows his African football and this is a big and interesting, if slightly dry read. African football is a colourful, chaotic and often wonderful thing and all is well captured by the author in here. So often caught up in the politics of each country, used by dictators for egotistical purposes there are heart warming and heart breaking stories in here. Hawkey delves deep into the subject, telling us amongst other things, why the clubs employ white European "witch-doctor" coaches. "For us, it's important the boss drives a big car" (Celestine Babayaro, once of Chelsea). A lot of names such as Drogba, Milla and Weah will be familiar, the latter still a possible president of his country, Liberia.
Hawkey uses team nick-names and animal analogies to name his chapters in keeping with the African way, but to be honest this can make navigating the book a little tricky and there is no index which reduces it's effectiveness as a definitive reference. There is a list of the African Cup of Nation winners, World Cup appearances by African teams and Footballer of the Year etc but not enough to make wannabee "Statto's" too excited. The book also switches from topic to topic and team to team quite quickly so you have to concentrate fully to keep a handle on it and this can reduce it's enjoyment
Overall, a good in-depth read for the student of African football, not the casual fan as it is very detailed, but slightly flawed IMO for the reasons above.