Every guy can remember their first football strip.
Whether you bought a fake top at a market stall, or begged your parents to buy you the real thing, it was the top that stood out in your wardrobe.
If it was a genuine kit and you wore it to school, you were very careful to not get it ripped, otherwise you were avoiding your parents that evening. In recent years, sports companies have stepped their game up with cleaner and sharper strips that capture the idiosyncrasies and cultural aspects of countries. This list looks at the best of those from some of Africa’s best football nations.
The 2012 African Cup of Nations was a pretty disappointing tournament for Senegal. It started off with a defeat to Zambia and didn’t get much better.
However, the Senegalese artist Samba Fall took pride in his creation for the team which included an image of the Baobab tree.
The creator stated that ‘Seeing the image of the Baobab tree on the new Senegalese football shirt is like seeing the good memories of all the people of Senegal accompanying their football team to international competitions.’
In the 2002 World Cup, the Nigerian football team wore a fluorescent green strip during a pretty underwhelming summer. Not only was the tournament the worst performance for the Super Eagles (they racked up a solitary point and goal) but the team also wore a kit that was so bright that it attracted flies… literally. It looked like a child had just found a highlighter pen and gone crazy.
The previous tournament had much fonder memories for Nigerians including the crazy game against Spain, where Sunday Oliseh capped off a comeback win with the kind of goal that people literally dream about.
And fortunately, the Super Eagles went to France with a strip that did the team and their players justice.
The Cameroonian football team has long been the first avenue for Puma’s design experiments. There was the all-in-one kit which was banned by Fifa and the vests used during the 2002 World Cup , which had players spending extra hours in the gym, so their arms were on point.
At a time of over-sized jerseys and long sleeves, the vests definitely stood out, to the extent that Serena Williams wore a football inspired outfit in that year’s French Open… Puma do not do things by half measures.
Up until the last decade, the Côte d’Ivoire international team had failed to make an impact on the international stage, with just the one continental championship and a failure to qualify for the World Cup. It’s fair to say that they had a kit befitting of their performances, with the kind of strip that a school football team would wear.
When the golden generation emerged, the Elephants needed something a bit better – the players then stepped out in Puma kits. They haven’t altered the top too much in the last ten years but the tough of the elephant in the top right of the top is a nice touch.
After the success of the rugby team in 1995, the boys had to win the African Nations the following year with 80,000 fans watching the final in Johannesburg. Unfortunately, the Springboks only had a year in the sun, before football took over again.
However, since that tournament, they have struggled to make any impact on international football, even in the World Cup they hosted in 2010.
We are all familiar with the phrase ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’, and the South Africa team definitely captured this proverb with a strip that is strikingly close to the Brazil… but don’t tell anyone.