An African fam­ily ri­valry con­tin­ues at Euro 2016

Play­ers with African roots at Euro 2016

CityPress - - Sport - PETER AUF DER HEYDE sports@city­press.co.za

Am­atch-up be­tween Ger­many and Bel­gium at the Eu­ros could see two play­ers con­tinue a fam­ily ri­valry that dates back 24 years to the Africa Cup of Na­tions in Sene­gal.

In 1992, striker Souley­man Sané scored one of the goals for the hosts in a 3-0 win over Kenya. His coun­ter­part in the Haram­bee Stars side, Mike Okoth, failed to find the net as the east Africans were knocked out in the group stage.

Fast-for­ward to 2016 and their sons are on track for an­other meet­ing at a con­ti­nen­tal fi­nals – al­beit at the Eu­ros.

Leroy Sané, 20, who was born in Ger­many dur­ing his fa­ther’s lengthy stint in Europe, has opted to play for Die Mannschaft, while 21-year-old Origi was born in Bel­gium when his fa­ther was play­ing in that coun­try. The Liver­pool striker plays his in­ter­na­tional foot­ball for Les Di­ables Rouges, who are cur­rently ranked sec­ond in the world.

The fa­ther of two of Origi’s team­mates, Jor­dan and Romelu Lukaku, also played at the fi­nals of the Africa Cup of Na­tions. In fact, Me­nama Lukaku was only de­nied a clash against Sané at the 1994 fi­nals be­cause Sene­gal and the then Zaire were knocked out at the quar­ter­fi­nal stage by the two fi­nal­ists, Zam­bia and Nige­ria, re­spec­tively.

Okoth said in an in­ter­view with City Press that it had al­ways been his son’s choice to play for Bel­gium.

“When you go to the na­tional team in Kenya, the sys­tem is to­tally dif­fer­ent. So for him to adapt to that sys­tem is a lit­tle bit dif­fi­cult, be­cause you can say it is not as prop­erly or­gan­ised as in Europe.

“So to make that switch at an early age would have been very dif­fi­cult.”

Okoth re­mem­bers play­ing against Sané in Sene­gal.

“He was in­cred­i­bly fast and liked to take on de­fend­ers. I can see his son is like that too.”

Like the Kenyan leg­end, Sané has played an im­por­tant role in his son’s ca­reer.

“From an early age on, we could see that he had a lot of tal­ent and we said that if he didn’t mess it up, if he takes his ca­reer se­ri­ously, he could make it,” said the for­mer Sene­galese in­ter­na­tional, with Leroy adding that his fa­ther had al­ways been there for him.

Okoth, who won a Bel­gian ti­tle, as well as the cup with Genk, ac­cepts that the two young­sters have opted to play their in­ter­na­tional foot­ball for a Euro­pean team.

“The world is chang­ing con­tin­u­ously, so when I de­cided to come here, it was to make my life bet­ter than it was in Kenya, and so my chil­dren have in­te­grated here and are part of a dif­fer­ent setup in a dif­fer­ent coun­try.”

And Sané and Origi are not the only tal­ents Africa has lost: 43 play­ers at the Eu­ros could have been play­ing at the Africa Cup of Na­tions had they not thrown in their lot with a Euro­pean coun­try (see box).

Player’s name, age, coun­try they play for and African na­tion they could have played for

1. Paul Pogba (23) – France – Guinea–born 2. Marouane Fel­laini (28) – Bel­gium – Morocco 3. David Alaba (23) – Aus­tria – Nige­ria 4. Wil­liam Car­valho (24) – Por­tu­gal – An­gola 5. Stephan El Shaarawy (23) Italy – Egypt 6. Bamidele Jer­maine “Dele” Alli (20) – Eng­land – Nige­ria 7. N’Golo Kanté (25) – France – Mali 8. François Moubandje (25) – Switzer­land – Cameroon 9. Danilo Pereira (24) – Por­tu­gal – Guinea 10. Éder (28) – Por­tu­gal – Guinea-Bis­sau 11. Chris­tian Kabasele ( 25) – Bel­gium – Congo 12. Bacary Sagna (33) – France – Sene­gal 13. Divock Origi (21) – Bel­gium – Kenya 14. Pa­trice Evra (35) – France – Sene­gal 15. Steve Man­danda (31) – France – Congo 16. Luis Nani (29) – Por­tu­gal – Cape Verde 17. An­gelo Og­bonna (28) – Italy – Nige­ria 18. Jerome Boateng (27) – Ger­many – Ghana 19. Blaise Ma­tu­idi (29) – France – An­gola 20. Sami Khedira (29) – Ger­many – Tunisia 21. Adil Rami (30) – France – Morocco 22. Breel Em­bolo (19) – Switzer­land – Cameroon 23. Chris­tian Ben­teke (25) – Bel­gium – DR Congo 24. De­nis Zakaria (19) – Switzer­land – DR Congo 25. Eli­aquim Man­gala (25) – France – DR Congo 26. Eliseu – Por­tu­gal (32) – Cape Verde 27. Gél­son Fer­nan­des (29) – Switzer­land – Cape Verde 28. Hal Rob­son-Kanu (27) – Wales – Nige­ria 29. Jason De­nayer (20) – Bel­gium – DR Congo 30. João Mário (23) – Por­tu­gal – Cape Verde 31. Jo­han Djourou (29) – Switzer­land – Ivory Coast 32. Jonathan Tah (20) – Ger­many – Ivory Coast 33. Jor­dan Lukaku (21) – Bel­gium – DR Congo 34. Leroy Sané (20) – Ger­many – Sene­gal 35. Martin Ols­son (28) – Swe­den – Kenya 36. Michy Bat­shuayi (22 – Bel­gium-DR Congo 37. Mousa Dem­bele (28) – Bel­gium – Mali 38. Moussa Sis­soko (26) – France – Mali 39. Re­nato Sanchez (18) – Por­tu­gal – Cape Verde 40. Ru­bin Okotie (29) – Aus­tria – Nige­ria 41. Sa­muel Umtiti (22) – France – Cameroon 42. Theodor Ge­bre Se­lassie (29) – Czech Repub­lic – Ethiopia 43. John Guidetti (24) – Swe­den – Kenya (born in Swe­den, Swedish pass­port, but lived in Kenya for five years as a kid)

PHOTO: MICHAEL STEELE / GETTY IM­AGES PHOTO: CHRISTOF KOEPSEL / BONGARTS / GETTY IM­AGES

KENYAN Divock Origi of Bel­gium SENE­GALESE Leroy Sané turn­ing out for Ger­many

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