Top 10 African national team nicknames
Posted: 20 March 2013 Time: 1:34 pm
There is a great deal of creativity and meaning amongst the many nicknames used on the continent, with fans developing a love for the brand created by their side’s moniker.
With the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations having come and gone, we turn our focus to the African national teams attempting to qualify for the next major international competition, the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Nicknames have a great deal of meaning for supporters, with national team names in particular gaining attention through conversations with other fans and media interaction.
Considering the abundance of options at our disposal, we have composed a Top 10 list of monikers by which the national teams of Africa have become known.
10. The Squirrels - Benin
Certainly one of the more diminutive animal nicknames used for the national teams of Africa, the Benin squad is known as Les Ecureuils in French, or The Squirrels. There were reports last year that the country's FA was considering a nickname change due to the fact that the small animal does not strike up the same fear as a lion or elephant might.
9. The Elephants – Ivory Coast
The elephant is the national animal and emblem of Ivory Coast. While a name was being selected in the 1960s, some officials suggested for the team to bear the Elephant temporarily until a more appropriate nickname was decided upon. However, it was never changed, as many felt the name fit the team well as a national symbol.
8. Harambee Stars - Kenya
Harambee is the Swahili word which means ‘pulling together’, and as the national team nickname for Kenya, it has great significance. Pulling together towards a common goal is a wonderful way to describe a team and the success they are aiming to achieve. The people of Kenya are proud of the group of players and the nickname by which they refer to them.
Ghana are currently considered to be amongst the top teams in Africa, despite their semi-final exit at the Nations Cup, and their nickname – The Black Stars – originated from the five-pointed black star in the middle of the Ghana national flag. The FA felt it made sense to adopt the moniker because it would foster unity not only in the country, but across the continent as well.
6. Bafana Bafana - South Africa
In July 1992, three journalists used the name Bafana Bafana, meaning ‘The boys the boys’, to identify the country’s national team, and the nickname grew in popularity among football loving fans. The South African Football Association’s (SAFA) leadership at the time found it derogatory to refer to a team of men as ‘boys’, but this did not stop the people of South Africa from developing a love for the new name, and it stuck.
5. The Carthage Eagles - Tunisia
Tunisia are nicknamed The Carthage Eagles (Les Aigles de Carthage) because the eagle was one of the most prominent symbols of the Carthaginian civilisation, which is considered a golden age in the north African country’s history. Meanwhile, the eagle itself has always been a symbol of power, grace, agility, strength and, like a number of other African national teams, Tunisians want to see those characteristics in their players.
4. Chipolopolo - Zambia
Certainly one of the most interesting nicknames in world football, Chipolopolo means ‘The Copper Bullets’, and the name is meant to signify a determined purpose for the national team to reach its aim and be as accurate and intense as a bullet flying towards its intended target.
3. The Super Eagles - Nigeria
Probably one of the most famous nicknames emanating from Africa, the Nigerians have proven through the years that they are indeed super, and, as a giant of the continental game, they have built a reputation as one of Africa's most consistent sides. The Super Eagles have qualified for the World Cup on four occasions, making it to the Round of 16 twice, and are defending AFCON champions
2. The Pharaohs - Egypt
If a person did not know the nickname to begin with, hearing it could lead them to take an educated guess at which nation was represented by the moniker. Egypt is famous for the pyramids and a history of Pharaohs who ruled the land in times past. The name given to the national team is loaded with meaning for the former African champions, and their achievements on the continent have added more weight, especially considering their tally of seven African Cup of Nations titles.
A favourite among many Africans, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon are famous for their exploits on the world stage, spreading their name – and evidence that it is deserved – throughout the globe during a number of World Cup competitions. In 1982, the west Africans drew with Italy, who would then go on to become world champions that year, while in 1990 they defeated title holders Argentina in the first match of their campaign. They proved to be indomitable indeed, and their nickname is probably one of the most globally recognised with regards to African national teams.