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From the Mysterious Ebusua Dwarfs to Miscellaneous FC and beyond

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Mike Wills is a journalist and talk show host.

Bafana Bafana yet again were bullied out of a major competition in west Africa – but it’s all part of the colourful African football tapestry.

Undoubtedly the refereeing in the 1-0 World Cup qualifying defeat by Ghana was dubious, but we always seem so lightweight in that part of the world. Our diminutive stars Percy Tau and Ethan Brooks were consistently physically outgunned.

I remember one European coach’s overly graphic explanation on TV commentary decades ago that SA’s persistent disadvantage against West African teams was that “with your players I can hold both bum cheeks in one hand!”

So, as the disappointment of the seemingly inevitable loss seeped in during the grim second half, my inquisitive, some would say trivial, mind wandered to the venue.

Cape Coast is a small fishing city 140km west of the Ghanaian capital Accra with a sad history as a slaving post. Its prime tourist attraction, the Cape Coast Castle, was built by the Swedes. Who knew that they hung around the Gulf of Guinea in 1650?

And which team, pray tell please Google, uses the impressive, compact Cape Coast Stadium as its home ground? The answer is pure gold. It is the Cape Coast Mysterious Ebusua Dwarfs.

Now that’s a football team name. And these Dwarfs are no small fry. They won the Ghanaian title in 1966 and are in the national premier league although currently suspended over transfer dealings.

And it gets better: the Mysterious Ebusua Dwarfs’ bitter local rivals are the Cape Coast Venomous Vipers.

That’s two more great monikers to add to my long list of entertaining African football team names.

The rest of the world has their efforts in this regard – Norway’s FC Odd and FC Fart, Peru’s legendary Deportivo Wanka and Bolivia’s Always Ready (who clearly weren’t ready the one time I saw them play in Laz Paz; they were 4-0 down at half-time) – but for depth and breadth of great club names nothing matches our continent.

If we stay in Ghana, we find Eleven Wonders FC who have soulmates in Eswatini’s longstanding Eleven Men in Flight, Botswana’s Eleven Angels, Namibia’s Eleven Arrows and Liberia’s newly promoted FC Heaven Eleven.  

A team called Wikki Tourists FC play in the Nigerian top flight, but how they got that strange name is something that Wikipedia cannot resolve for me, although I did learn that their team bus caught fire and was destroyed on the way to a game earlier this year.   

Zim’s premier league has Chicken Inn FC and Wha Wha FC from Gweru. Nyasa Big Bullets top the table in Malawi – they recently played against our very own big

bullet Benni McCarthy’s AmaZulu – and have Blantyre rivals in Be Forward Wanderers FC.

Sadly, South African team names are generally dull (SuperSport United being the worst of them), with nothing to shout about since the glorious Dangerous Darkies of Nelspruit in the 1990s merged with Black Aces, who John Comitis then pocketed and re-named the uber-bland Cape Town City FC.

I could get behind Ethiopian Coffee FC in their premier league campaign, although they need to wake up and smell some of their own name – they’re currently in the relegation zone – but I would struggle to sing songs for Uganda Revenue Authority FC (who supports the tax collector?) or the current Ugandan premier league leaders Kampala City Council FC, founded by someone from the municipal waste department and nicknamed “The Garbagemen”.

They also have a Prisons XI in Uganda, as do several other African leagues. I am not sure if the inmates play or are forced to watch.

Botswana specialises in the mundane with a Prisons team and, two weeks ago, Police XI played to 0-0 draw with Security Systems FC. Riveting stuff.

In the lower reaches though there’s the pleasingly honest Miscellaneous FC, which was founded by Sir Seretse Khama, no less, on his return from exile in England, and the very intimidating Holy Ghost FC.   

And thinking of The Ghost, Orlando Pirates are short-odds favourites for the league title this year but, sadly for Bucs’ fans, the trophy won’t come to Soweto. Orlando Pirates FC of Katutura in the Namibia Football Premier League are a far better bet than their big-brother namesakes at the moment. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for R25 at Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores. For your nearest stockist, please click here.

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