2nd July 2010: In the last minute of extra time at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, Ghana won a free-kick on the right wing. The ball was crossed in and in the ensuing cafouillage, Luis Suarez twice stopped the Ghanaians from scoring, blocking Appiah’s shot with his knee and then a header by Adiyiah with his hands. This moment will forever be remembered by all African football fans until an African team lifts that World Cup. Suarez was sent off on that night in South Africa but Asamoah Gyan, Ghana’s top scorer, missed the consequent penalty. The Black Stars went on to lose the penalty shootout 4-2.
Africa’s dream for a World Cup win was kept waiting.
This year, Ghana did not even qualify for the World Cup in Russia. Five African nations will represent the continent: Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Tunisia and Senegal. The Ivory Coast, boasting the likes of Eric Bailly and Wilfried Zaha, are another surprising absentee from the African continent.
Feature: Rating Egypt’s World Cup chances
Egypt have the easiest group among all African nations and can count on multiple Premier League stars to carry the team forward. We expect them to at least reach the round of 16.
So many Moroccan players are from Europe that the team could have counted as a European nation. Herve Renard’s team has defensive discipline and has most of its players playing in top European leagues. However, Portugal and Spain await in Group B. With a bit of luck, Morocco could edge out Portugal and end up in the round of 16 but that’s a big if.
Nigeria are unlucky to have been drawn in the group of death. It’s a shame since they have such a good squad and a less competitive group would have allowed them to grow in the tournament and maybe better Ghana’s feat of 2010. Moses, Iwobi, Iheanacho, Mikel, Ndidi, Ighalo – there’s undoudbtedly much talent in this team. Argentina, Croatia and Iceland will not find it easy against the Super Eagles. We expect Nigeria to put on a good fight but ultimately Argentina and Croatia should go through.
In 14th position, Tunisia is currently the highest ranked African nation in the FIFA World Rankings. They have a young, dynamic team but should find England and Belgium too tough to overcome.
After Egypt, Senegal has the best draw amongst African nations. They are in a fairly well-matched group with Poland, Colombia and Japan. The expectation is Lewandowski’s Poland and Falcao’s Colombia will go through. However, Senegal should not be underestimated. With Aliou Cissé as coach and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane in good form, the Lions of Teranga could very well be the surprise package at this World Cup.
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