Rio de Janeiro — The pathetic state of the Beautiful Game in Africa has reflected in FIFA not listing any of the players that featured for the continent's five representatives at Brazil 2014 World Cup for individual honours. Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroun and Algeria represented Africa at Brazil 2014.
Only the Super Eagles and the Desert Foxes made it to the Round of 16 before crashing out to France and Germany respectively. One name noticeably absent from the shortlist dominated by German players was the USA goalkeeper, Tim Howard, who was left off the three-man goalkeeping award despite his record setting performance against Belgium in the round of 16 that ultimately wasn't enough to keep his team's improbable World Cup run going. But before naming those who were included, here are the nominees for the Golden Ball award, which goes to the tournament's best overall player:
GOLDEN BALL AWARD... Angel Di Maria, midfielder, Argentina -Robin to Messi's Batman. Scored Argentina's round of 16 winner before suffering a thigh injury in the quarterfinals that ended his tournament. Mats Hummels, defender, Germany -One of the best defenders in this World Cup and he's also contributed two goals. James Rodriguez, midfielder, Colombia -The tournament's breakout star and leading scorer with six goals. Toni Kroos, midfielder, Germany - A vital cog in the German machine. He's scored two goals and set up four others. Philipp Lahm, midfielder/defender, Germany - Germany's captain and most important player. Whether in midfield or at his natural position of right back, he's powered the team to the final. Javier Mascherano, midfielder, Argentina -Has literally done Argentina's dirty work. The man tore his anus while preventing Arjen Robben from scoring late in the semifinal. Lionel Messi, deity, Argentina - Despite massive pressure, he's scored half of Argentina's eight goals and set up Di Maria's in the round of 16. Thomas Muller, striker, Germany - Five goals, three assists and five stitches. Wherever he is, goals appear like scarves out of a magician's sleeve.
Arjen Robben, genius and tumbling expert, Netherlands - His diving got lots of attention, but he led the Netherlands to an unexpected semifinal appearance with three goals, one assist and all of Mexico cursing his name Neymar, hope of a nation, Brazil -Before suffering a back injury late in Brazil's quarterfinal win over Colombia, Neymar carried the host nation with four goals. Without him in the semifinal, his teammates seemed more concerned with paying tribute to their No. 10 than not losing by six goals.
YOUNG PLAYERS... The Best Young Player Award nominees are midfielder Paul Pogba and defender Raphael Varane from France and Memphis Depay from the Netherlands.
GOALKEEPERS And the three goalkeepers deemed better than Tim Howard are shootout heroes Keylor Navas of Costa Rica and Sergio Romero of Argentina, plus the tournament's undeniable top keeper, Manuel Neuer ofGermany.
GOLDEN BOOT... The Tournament's other individual award, the Golden Boot, will, of course, go to whoever scores the most goals. At the 2010 World Cup, Uruguay's Diego Forlan won the Golden Ball, Spain's Iker Casillas won the Golden Glove, and Thomas Muller won both the Golden Boot and Best Young Player Award.