Boxscore: NAIROBI, Kenya -September 20, 2021 – National football teams across the world have always coined a nickname to be referred by, but nowhere has the tradition been more embraced than in Africa.
Almost each and every African national football team has a nickname that they have adopted and use even more than the official country name.
Unlike most European teams where they will just carry the name of the color of their jersey as their nickname, for example the ‘The Orange’ of Netherlands, ‘The Blues, of France or ‘La Roja’ of Spain which simply means ‘The Reds.’
For African teams, they have gone beyond the color of their uniform to call their teams names that come from different aspects of life.
Nicknames for African teams are meant to serve different purposes like identification, pride or intimidation.
The African rich wildlife has been the major inspiration behind most of African national team nicknames, as opposed to teams from the rest of the world.
For Uganda, whose national football team is known as ‘The Cranes’, a name which they adopted from the crested crane which is the national bird of Uganda. This majestic bird is only found mostly in Uganda and some parts of the Democratic republic of Congo. It appears in the Ugandan flag and also on their coat of arms.
Since Uganda has had a troubled history, the bird’s peaceful character and beauty is the inspiration behind the name.
Other teams from Africa have gone for names of more aggressive animals like Cameroons’ ‘Indomitable Lions’ or Senegal’s ‘The Lions of Tiranga’ whose purpose is to symbolize dominance and the high place that African culture place the Lion.
The following are other African teams with nicknames derived from African wildlife: Algeria- the Fennec Fox, Angola- the Sable Antelopes, Benin- the Squirrels, Botswana- the Zebras, Burkina Faso- the Stallions, Burundi- the Swallows, Central African Republic- the Big Cats, DRC- the Leopards, Eritrea- the Camel, Ethiopia- the walia, Gabon- the black panther, Gambia- the scorpions, Guinea- national Elephants, Guinea Bisau- the African Dogs, Ivory Coast- the Elephants, Lesotho- the Crocodiles, Madagascar- the Barea, Mali- the Eagles, Mauritius- the Dogs, Morocco- the Atlas Lions, Mozambique- the Mambas, Niger- the Mena, Nigeria- the Super Eagles, Rwanda- the Wasps, Sudan- the Nile Crocodile, Togo- the Sparrow Hawks, Tunisia- the Carthege Eagles.
The sea creatures have also inspired a number of African teams to go for their nick names from deep waters like: Cape Verde- the Blue Sharks and Comoros- the Coelacanths.
Even the outer space has had its fair share of nicknames to the African teams starting with one of the most successful African national football team Ghana- the Black Stars, Kenya- Harambee Stars, Liberia- Lone Stars, Sierra Lione- the Leones Stars, Somali- Ocean Stars, South Sudan- Bright Stars and Tanzania- Taifa or Kilimanjaro Stars.
The geography has also been the inspiration behind Algeria and Djibouti national teams nickname- the Desert Warriors of Algeria and the Shore Man of Djibouti.
Another source of the names of a number of African teams is their country history and economic activity: Egypt- the Pharaohs, Libya- the Mediterranian Knights, Mauritania- the Almoravids, Namibia- Brave Warriors and the Copper Bullets of Zambia.
This names have also been used to give confidence to the team players ahead of football matches between African teams for example one Kenyan Daily went with an headline saying ‘The Eagles can fly but can’t reach the stars’, ahead of a World Cup qualifying match between Kenya’s ‘Harambee Stars’ and Nigeria’s ‘Super Eagles’.
The nicknames in Africa national football teams have been part of their teams to the extent that they have become even more official than the official names but all in all they have also made football even more interesting