South Africa 2010 was meant to be Africa's coming out party. As the official song for the cup states, “This Time for Africa”. However, slowly the strongest African contenders are losing steam before the tournament even begins.
Today it was announced that Didier Drogba—the Ivory Coast Captain—fractured his elbow in an exhibition match against Japan.
Drogba, the leading scorer of the English Premier League, was the biggest hope to many for the African team breaking through to win the cup.
Strong players back Drogba including the midfielder Yaya Toure from Barcelona, but it is doubtful that the team could go far without the threat of Drogba up front.
Drogba's Chelsea teammate Michael Essien—the former captain of the Ghana team—will also miss the World Cup.
Essien injured a ligament in his knee training earlier in the year and was unable to recover in time to make Ghana's 23-man roster for the cup.
Essien had been a strong presence for Ghana in the midfield and was one of the stars in Ghana's surprise run past the group stage in 2006.
In what is now a genuine Chelsea curse, fellow midfielder Michael Ballack will also miss the World Cup for Germany after injuring his ankle during the FA Cup Final.
Germany has a depth to recover from the injury that Ivory Coast and especially Ghana don't necessarily possess.
Ghana and Ivory Coast are still very dangerous teams without their star players, with most of their players playing in one of the top four leagues.
It'll be interesting to see which players will step up in each team to give a sense of leadership and create a fairy tale African run.
While Ivory Coast has more depth in its team, Drogba might be a much greater loss since African teams have had a history of having a hard time finalizing the scoring opportunities they create.
Drogba was an assassin in the box not only in skill but pure physical force. He was one of the most efficient strikers entering the 2010 World Cup.
While the Ivory Coast doctors have not entirely discarded Drogba from playing in the Cup, Drogba announced to his teammate Kolo Toure that he will miss the cup.
If only for Africa, hopefully Drogba's teammates are able, despite his injury, to aid Ivory Coast to escape their "Group of Death" against Brazil, Portugal, and North Korea.