What if Puma made the England kit too?

by William Abbs

Sunday, January 31st, 2010
 

Egypt take on Ghana today in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations, with the Pharaohs going for their third successive victory in the tournament. On their way to the final, Egypt have beaten three teams that have qualified for this summer’s World Cup – Nigeria, Cameroon, and Algeria – while they will be absent from South Africa. Not since Italia 90, when England beat them 1-0 in the group stage, have Egypt appeared at a World Cup. Their sustained success in the Cup of Nations could be explained by the relative strength of their domestic league, in which all but four members of the Egyptian squad play. The Ivory Coast and Cameroon might be tipped by some to have an outside chance of winning the World Cup on African soil this summer because those two nations boast a selection of stars from European club sides, but the failure of players like Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o to perform alongside their respective compatriots in Angola makes such reasoning appear flawed.

This year’s Cup of Nations has been played in the shadow left by the murder by terrorists of three members of the Togolese squad’s party in the disputed Angolan exclave of Cabinda. After such a dreadful start to what should have been a celebration of African football’s growing influence on the world game, the expulsion of the Togo squad from the tournament by Caf – after the devastated players asked for their first fixture to be postponed while they were in mourning – managed to sully the competition even more. Low attendances and disappointing performances from high-profile players have been other setbacks, but there have been some memorable games. Mali’s four-goal comeback against the host nation in the opening game was remarkable, Malawi’s 3-0 win against Algeria was a pleasant surprise, while Gabon and Zambia showed that they can compete with the continent’s more established football nations.

If we are to remember the 2010 ACN for anything, though, let it be the kits. Africa has form as far as football fashion goes. Cameroon alone have worn three classics in the past: the shiny green number in 1990 that had a huge yellow lion’s face on the chest of the shirt; the sleeveless design from 2002’s ACN; and, most extreme of all, the one-piece kit in 2004. This year, nine of the competing nations’ shirts were supplied by Puma and each is a lurid, figure-hugging effort that includes, over the right shoulder, an image synonymous with that particular nation. Some of the kits will be seen in South Africa, but Angola’s will sadly not be one of them. Bright red, with yellow and black bands of colour across the front, their shirt features an antelope on the shoulder and is the pick of the bunch. Sadly, Togo never got to wear their neon yellow shirt with the picture of a sparrow hawk on it, and it will not be seen in South Africa either. At least the Ivory Coast’s orange elephant and Cameroon’s evergreen lion will grace our television screens.

Players increasingly require power and athleticism, above all else, if they are to succeed in the sport. The way youngsters play football across Africa develops those qualities, with games being played on small pitches between large numbers of players. But fans must also possess power and athleticism if they are to wear replicas of these kits; they are not designed for the portly figure of most armchair supporters and it would take someone with a strong character to stroll down the high street in something that’s so tight you can almost tell what they had for lunch. The vivid iconography on the shirts must inspire the players who can fit into them, though. Would England benefit from playing in what Puma calls a “moisture-wicking Power Mesh” that “accentuates the players’ musculature”? The shirt would be a dazzling white, but what symbol to use on the shoulder? It’s a tie between a pint glass, a kebab, or a Winston Churchill toby jug. But one suspects that, for as long as England continues to produce players in the mould of Wayne Rooney, Puma will not be getting a call from the FA.

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  • http://lumpon.blogspot.com Mark Smith

    HA! nice post, i did have to double take when I saw the players in this skin tight kit – i can see Rooney now in a tight white england PUMA kit!! Still im sure 99% of premier league footballers would love this figure hugging show off kit..

  • W.A.

    Thanks! I like to think I wouldn’t disgrace myself if I was try to wear one of the Puma kits, but the current England shirt is a winner in my book too. Kits are important! I will regret to the end of my days the fact that I sold my first-ever football shirt once I outgrew it (the Man United black away kit from the mid-90s).

  • William

    Also, I’d like to correct part of my article: Egypt beat Cameroon in the quater-finals, not the Ivory Coast. Sorry about that.

  • William

    *quarter-finals*

  • dexylongshot

    Nice work William, i see your point about the shirts, i think i’ll be keeping my old England tops thank you very much and pray Puma don’t get appoiunted as our new suppliers*

    By the way I have 2006 Red England Top with the number 6 (Bobby Moores number) & Terry (My middle name after Dexy) on the back. I doubt I will ever have the nerve of touching it again no our current England captain as fkd up. It will be available on Ebay later for the princely price of 1 penny. Details to follow.

  • dexylongshot
  • mickeymarbles

    Quality, isn’t 1 penny a bit steep though???

  • W.A.

    Ha, great idea! Just don’t let Terry’s marketing men know you’re selling the shirt. They’ll be after you for some of the royalties, 1p or not!

  • dexylongshot

    It’s all publicity isn’t it!

    Referring back to the blog. Good old Egypt, my longshots did it again and I missed out on the betting early doors, whats Eygptian for balls??.
    Goes to show though what a decent organized side the Pharoahs can be. The Wembley game in a few weeks will be interesting. If we can do a decent job over them, I don’t think we have much to worry about from the other African sides at the World Cup.

  • W.A.

    Egyptian football is a bit of an enigma. Their clubs have a fair amount of money and can offer ok wages, which is why the players don’t leave for European football quite as much as those from west Africa. The next few months will be interesting though, with Zaki and Mido back in the Prem.

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