Home 2013 – Tepa
Consisting of ten volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Verde can be found 350 miles or so off the coast of Senegal and is notable as one of the very few African nations for whom the arrival of Europeans didn’t lead to a mass plundering of resources or enslavement of the native population. Admittedly this probably had something to do with the islands being both completely uninhabited and bereft of anything even remotely useful when the Portuguese first rocked up in 1462, but let’s not quibble over details. Anyway, noting the frankly unacceptable lack of death, despair and all the other things that made 15th century colonialism so much whacky fun, Portugal quickly went about establishing the islands as an important post for the transatlantic slave trade, coaxing in unsuspecting victims via a ‘grand country opening ceremony’ replete with ribbon cutting, confetti and a special ‘Africans get in free’ promotion.
Thankfully the nation has come a long way since such unwholesome beginnings and, thanks to the booming tourism industry, people are now flocking to the islands under more voluntary circumstances. Aside from the obvious lure of year round sunshine, visitors to Cape Verde can engage in such daredevil activities as swimming with sharks, hiking precarious mountains and even getting up close and personal with Pico do Fogo, an active volcano that last erupted in 2014 and still occasionally spits out globs of piping hot magma (see picture below), perfect for those who like their sightseeing to also kill them. Cape Verde also boasts one of the highest standards of living in Africa thanks to its political stability, extensive investment in education and economic performance, not to mention the handy geographical trait of not actually being in Africa.
Some Cape Verdean tourists acquire memories that will last them the rest of their lives. Both seconds of it.
Physically, Cape Verdeans are renowned as some of the most striking people on the planet thanks to centuries of mixed Portuguese/black African marriages, and today it’s not uncommon to find dark-skinned locals sporting conspicuous blonde hair as well as other typically European features such as blue or green eyes and noses that automatically turn themselves up on hearing an American accent. Despite this bewitching blend of captivating landscapes and gorgeous people, the most popular pursuit in Cape Verde has always been how to get out of the place. Currently, resident islanders number only around 540,000, a figure dwarfed by the massive diaspora communities worldwide which may be close to double this, with almost half a million living in the US alone. There is one element of the Cape Verdean population experiencing steady growth however, specifically the herds of wild goats littering the countryside that, statistically, are rapidly reaching equilibrium with the human inhabitants. Worth knowing if you’re stuck on the islands, feeling lonesome and don’t fancy sharing
Cape Verde’s national team have seen an incredible rise through the African football rankings in recent years, going from complete non-entities to an improbable Cup of Nations debut in 2013 following a stunning 3-2 aggregate victory over Cameroon in a qualification play-off. At the finals in South Africa the “Tubaroes Azuis” (Blue Sharks) defied the odds yet again, earning draws against both Morocco and the hosts before a late 2-1 win over Angola earned a place in the quarter-finals where their mischievous antics finally came to end as they were beaten 2-0 by Ghana. Two years later the Cape Verdeans progressed to the finals once more, and despite finishing unbeaten after drawing with three previous champions Tunisia, DR Congo and Zambia, the team were eliminated on goals scored.
Sadly, around this same time period Cape Verde blew a glorious opportunity to qualify for the 2014 World Cup finals, a feat which would have blown all their AFCON achievements out of the water. Even worse, they were ultimately thwarted by some sloppy admin rather than results on the pitch. It’s all a trifle confusing so bear with me while I attempt to piece together the scenario for you.
September 2013 – Cape Verde were scheduled to conclude their qualification campaign with an away fixture against Tunisia, who at this point have the group already sewn up making the match an apparent dead-rubber.
The buildup – A few days before the game news emerges that Cape Verdean protests over the eligibility of an opposition player during an earlier 4-3 defeat by Equatorial Guinea have been upheld by FIFA, nullifying the result and awarding a default 3-0 win to Cape Verde instead, with the additional three points putting the whole group back up for grabs.
The match – Cape Verde record what appears to be a famous 2-0 win in Tunisia, leapfrogging their opponents and taking the coveted play-off spot for a place at Brazil 2014.
The aftermath – Celebrations are cut short as the Tunisians have their own misgivings over the eligibility of Cape Verdean player Fernando Verala and protest to FIFA that the defender should have still been serving a suspension. FIFA agree and award Tunisia the match 3-0 and ergo the play off place.
The after aftermath – The Cape Verdeans launch a counter appeal on the basis that since Verala picked up the offending yellow card during the now voided loss against Equatorial Guinea it shouldn’t have counted.
The result – Confused, irritated and increasingly distracted from all that corrupting they could have been doing instead, FIFA adopt a strategy of sticking their fingers in their ears, shouting “nananananana” and hoping it all goes away.
Conclusion – Cape Verde’s appeal defeated. Tunisia lose the play-off anyway. FIFA look clueless even by their standards. Tea and cake for all.
Wow, this is a real hot mess. Spots, stars, a loud concoction of primary colours and a design that looks as though it were thrown together by an over-excited six year old arts and crafts pupil after taking one too many nasal liberties with the school Pritt Stick supply. Part of me loves this garment for its sheer ridiculousness and ‘to hell with convention’ style, although another part feels that it goes slightly too far to the point where it arguably no longer looks like a football shirt, instead resembling something you’d receive during the Tour de France for clambering up some hills.
Cape Verde’s kit designer unveils his three latest prototypes.
Nitpicking aside, this top will at least hold special significance for all ‘Blue Sharks’ supporters as it was the kit worn at the team’s historic 2013 AFCON bow and subsequent run to the last eight. The manufacturer of these dotty anomalies are Tepa Sportswear, a Portuguese company whose association with the Cape Verde team has now sadly ended despite, or perhaps because of, this divisive but certainly memorable little number.