The World Cup is finally here and African teams are expected to do way better in Brazil than they’ve ever done in previous tournaments. Ghana, Algeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Cameroon represent the continent this year. With the exception of Ghana, all of the African teams were crushed during the first round of South Africa’s World Cup in 2010.
And while Brazilian soccer legend Pele predicted an African will win the tournament before the end of the last century, no African team has ever made it to the semi-finals.
On three occasions – 1990, 2002, 2010 — with Cameroon, Senegal, and Ghana, respectively, they’ve reached the quarter-finals. Here, Face2Face Africa predicts their chances in Brazil.
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This team can be the surprise package coming from Africa. The Desert Foxes are the only Arab representatives in Brazil. The key player to watch is Sofiane Feghouli who is an attacking midfielder for Valencia. He and many former French youth team members have switched nationality alliance in favor of the North African team. Coach Vahid Halilhodzic prefers to play the 4-1-4-1 system, which switches into 4-1-3-2 when the team is on the attack. If the Algerian defense can hold up, the world will witness a passionate match against their former independence wartime nemesis France in the first round.
Prediction: Group Stage Exit
This World Cup will be the seventh for the Indomitable Lions. In South Africa, they lost all three of their group matches, and recently this talented team was plagued with disputes with football administrators over bonuses. Still, the pride of African football in the 1990s can cause another surprise if they can focus on the pitch under the leadership of captain Samuel Eto’o.
Lack of creativity in midfield is another issue for the Indomitable Lions. National Coach Volker Finke will have Alex Song, the Barcelona defensive midfielder, as an option but his defensive framework won’t help create the chances needed for goal scoring opportunities upfront. On a brighter side, they have one of Africa’s best defensive unit sgoing into Brazil. This defense can make a huge difference by keeping clean sheets.
Prediction: Second Round Exit
This tournament may offer a last-chance for a golden generation that has disappointed several times. On paper they present Africa’s best hope. Their team is comprised of the current African Player of the Year, Yaya Toure, who was central in helping Manchester City lift the Premiership title this year. Other stars, Didier Drogba and Gervais Yao Kouassi (Gervinho) collaborated well in their last friendly 2-1 win over El Savador.
Being in a group that is regarded to be the weakest, with Colombia, Greece and Japan as first-round opponents, the Ivorian’s can progress with the experience of their players.
Per Fifa ranking and scheduling of these games, Ghana has been placed in the Group of Death, the toughest group to advance out off in Brazil.
The Black Stars will play a rigid 4-4-2, which they employed masterfully under the guidance of Coach Kwesi Appiah during the qualification series. The team’s midfield is comprise of some familiar faces that made it to the quarter finals in the last edition: Sulley Muntari, Andre Ayew, Kwadjo Asamoah, and Kevin Prince Boateng return with more experience. The defense is generally Ghana’s weakest link, but playing with two forwards, which got 4 goals past South Korea in their last friendly in Miami, showed the ingenuity of this team. Facing Germany may be their toughest game in the group matches but a great result in their first game against the United States will offer great momentum for the usual slow starters.
The Reigning African champions qualified for Brazil with an unbeaten World Cup qualification record.
Coach Stephen Keshi will opt to play a variation of 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 with former Chelsea midfielder Mikel Obi marshaling the midfield for the Super Eagles — this formation worked wonders for the Super Eagles at the African Cup of Nations in South Africa, where another former Chelsea player, Victor Moses, became a star of the tournament. The excitement about this team is not overrated as it is getting better in its team work effort rather than relying on individual brilliance. A loss to the United States in their final preparation match has left many Nigerian fans — who are expecting nothing less than quarter-final berth — worried.
Another concern is that Nigeria has failed to win a World Cup game in the last 16 years.
However, Nigeria could surprise the world if their bench will step up like they did with Sunday Mba, when they won the recent African Cup of Nations.