International football organization FIFA has announced that Cameroon will compete among the third seed African countries during the upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifying matches.
Meanwhile, Algeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast each earned a spot in the top seed based on FIFA’s June rankings.
The first set of World Cup qualifiers will be held this October and November. Another four rounds will be played between August and November 2017. Twenty African countries have been split into five groups, or seeds; the winners from each group will advance to the finals in Russia.
This ranking is a nightmare for the Indomitable Lions, who have made 7 appearances in the World Cup – more than any other African nation – but have won no titles. After losing all their group games in their previous appearances at the World Cup in South Africa and Brazil, they have slid to 58th in the latest FIFA ranking, giving themselves no option but to pull their weight this time around.
“Cameroon are in the third pot, and I therefore expect a difficult group,” says the team’s new coach Hugo Broos. “We won’t get any favours from any teams, even though some opponents will be more manageable than others.”
Cameroon had been a team to watch whenever Africa and world football are mentioned. During their debut appearance at the 1982 world finals in Spain, the Lions locked it up with stalemates against Poland and Peru. The Indomitable Lions even clawed down Italy in a 1-1 draw, though it was not enough to prevent them from being eliminated in the group phase. Italy went on to win that year’s tournament.
Eight years later, their success seemed to be imminent when they beat defending champions Argentina in the opening match. Unfortunately, the Indomitable Lions have continued to struggle in both world tournaments and continental ones, finishing in last place during the 2015 African Cup of Nations.
Still, there are some rays of hope for the Indomitable Lions: they recent qualified for the 2017 Cup of Nations, which will be held in Gabon. “It wasn’t easy to book our place in Gabon,” Coach Broos told FIFA.com. “We’ve put in a significant amount of work so far.”
As for the World Cup qualifiers, the Belgian coach has a realistic view and a simple goal:
“Now, we’ll see who we get in the draw on 24 June and what kind of chances we have on paper. Getting Cameroon to Russia 2018 is my prime objective.”
FIFA 2018 World Cup African Qualifying Seeding:
Algeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Senegal, Tunisia
Cape Verde, Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Mali
Cameroon, Morocco, Guinea, South Africa, Congo Brazzaville
Uganda, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Gabon, Libya