Egypt claimed the African Nations Cup on Sunday, and thus they are kings of Africa.
But are they Africa's best side?
I was struck with this dilemma yesterday so I decided to explore it a bit more. You'll have to wait for Tuesday's PE column for my explorations (I looked at all the confederations and the supposed best teams in each region).
Egypt, though, struck me as odd. Egypt won the ANC in 2006 and 2008 and beat Ivory Coast and Cameroon (twice) en route to this year's crown. But Egypt did not qualify for the 2006 World Cup, nor the 2002 cup, the 1998 cup and the 1994 cup. In fact, Egypt has only played in two World Cups - 1990 and 1934. Additionally, their roster is not as stacked as other African nations.
Still, Egypt won this tournament two consecutive times now, which proves it isn't a fluke.
What constitutes "best?" As I mention in my column, if you ask a typical American soccer fan and a typical Mexican soccer fan who the best team in CONCACAF is, you'll get two different answers. What defines "best?" Is it simply championships won? Players the nation has produced? Does the league come into play? What about matches against common opponents? Games in Europe? Simply qualifying for tournaments? What about youth national teams - do those count?
It's really a subject you can write a book on. My PE attempt was about 800 words.
I didn't really come to a conclusion in my column, though, at least as to Egypt's superiority. I would consider them the best side right now but they have to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. The two-time defending African champions simply have to, otherwise we'll be right back here a couple of years from now.