Home 2011 – Gladia Sport
Chad, it would be fair to say, comes from a rough old neighbourhood. Over the decades the North African nation has had to contend with some form of lunacy from pretty much all sides, whether it be Sudanese refugees spilling across their eastern border during the 2003 Darfur crisis, war with Colonel Gaddafi’s Libya in the 1980s over the Aouzou Strip (a dusty, empty expanse of desert, the equivalent of two bald men fighting over a comb) or, most recently, Nigeria becoming increasingly agitated at the alarming shrinkage of Lake Chad away from their territory and subsequently beginning construction on a massive straw. Not that Chad helps itself it must be said. The country consistently ranks as one of the most corrupt in the world, although this rating has improved markedly in recent years thanks to government initiatives aimed at cleaning up their image, most of which involve handing the list compilers unmarked briefcases in underground car parks. On a more positive note, as of 2003 the Chadians finally began the long-delayed process of tapping the oil-rich Doba Basin – thought to contain up to one billion barrels of black gold – meaning that everything in the country will now be fine, just fine. Cough.
Prior to independence in 1960, Chad was administered as part of French Equatorial Africa. Not that France had any kind of grand plan for the area seemingly, instead colonising it out of sheer habit in the manner of an elderly person absentmindedly browsing a car-boot sale and returning home with a margarita maker, a set of hubcaps and the complete DVD box-set of Breaking Bad, because one of their grandchildren – can’t rightly remember which one – told them that it was good. Upon realising that they’d essentially conquered a huge empty dust bowl with no evident resources, barely any people and a lone water source dwindling faster than their military credibility, the French immediately deprioritised the area and adopted a distinctly ‘hands off’ approach to governance, albeit with the lingering threat that this would quickly morph into a more ‘heads off’ orientated style should the natives grow a little too restless.
Give the country’s general leanings toward corruption, embezzlement and the like you’d think the Chadians would find FIFA membership to be a home from home. However, despite having been affiliated since 1964, the national team neglected to even enter the World Cup until 2002, although they’ve since rectified this by participating in every edition since and have actually acquitted themselves reasonably well. Notable results include a fine 3-1 victory over Angola in the 2006 preliminaries – all the more impressive considering the Angolans, after winning the return 2-0 to advance on away goals, would go on to actually qualify for the finals in Germany – and, more recently, a shock 1-0 win over African football titans Egypt on the road to Russia 2018, though this was again wiped out in the second leg, this time via a 4-0 thumping.
Chad’s Africa Cup of Nations record is your typical hotchpotch of withdrawals, disqualifications and, just occasionally, the more traditional exclusion criteria of not being terribly good at hoofing a ball between two sticks. In fact their most recent campaign was abandoned on financial grounds with the team having already fulfilled three of their six fixtures, the results of which were declared null and void. Rather amusingly, this dropout directly cost continental bigwigs Nigeria their place at the finals due to the sudden loss of six points pushing them outside of the best runner up spots, while Chad themselves were hit with a one tournament ban meaning they won’t be eligible for the 2019 qualifiers, a shame as the newly expanded 24 team format surely offers a sniff for countries typically on the periphery. The most famous Chadian footballer of all time is striker Japhet N’Doram (nope, me neither) who forged a decent career in the French top flight during the 1990s, capped off by a 1995-96 Ligue 1 title triumph with FC Nantes in which he found the net 12 times. According to Wikipedia, the most popular Chad players today are Rodrigue Ninga, Ezechiel N’Douassel, Marius Mbaiam, Mahamatt Labbo and Karl Marx Barthelemy, all of whom have the vague air of “coming to an Arsenal bench near you” about them.
Typically Chad’s national team trot out onto the pitch clad some ultra-bland blue, yellow or red Adidas template with an ironed on badge, with the basic design subject to change from match to match depending on just what the local branches of Sports Direct have hanging around their sales racks. The one deviation that I’m aware of occurred around 2011-12 when French manufacturers Gladia Sports briefly picked up the Chadian contract and produced the marginally more intriguing design as seen here although, as stated previously, I always find screen-printed badges feel a bit cheap. Then again I guess “come on lads, someone break out the sewing kit” isn’t a phrase that’s going to win too many friends.
The only photographic evidence of this shirt in use seems to stem from a 2012 AFCON qualifier against Botswana so I’m unsure whether or not it ever got another airing, especially as the more obscure African nations are notorious for securing kit deals and then promptly abandoning them before they’ve even been though the wash once. Still it fills a rare gap in my collection, now I just have to wait for them to qualify for a major tournament at which point they’ll doubtless start cropping up everywhere.
Fun if completely irrelevant side note; Chad is quite the popular male Christian name in the US, the sort of guy who’s often the smarmy, overly cocky jock character who torments the nerdy protagonist in high-school movies before getting his comeuppance later, usually via some sort of bodily fluid related high-jinks. Anyway, a few years ago my brother had a yankee work colleague with the unlikely moniker “Chad Lane” who found that any time he would cc himself in an e-mail conversation regarding a meeting, any co-workers not familiar with the chap would send replies asking him to advise on the venue as their London A-Z didn’t appear to feature a Chad Lane. Still, could be worse I guess.