An African team has never won the World Cup. Ghana came the closest seven years ago in South Africa when they were controversially knocked out of the semi-finals by Luis Suarez and Uruguay. In the up-coming world cup it is difficult to determine how well the African teams will perform, with no team standing head and shoulders above their competitors. To try and ascertain how well each team might perform at this up-coming world cup, it is important to rank the teams based on their previous performances.
Ranked by date of qualification: Nigeria, Egypt, Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia
Ranked by world ranking: Tunisia (28), Egypt (30), Senegal (32), Nigeria (41), Morocco (48)
Ranked by bookies odds (Sky): Nigeria (150/1), Egypt (250/1), Senegal (250/1), Morocco (500/1), Tunisia (500/1)
Ranked by World Cups qualified for (Including Russia 2018): Nigeria (6), Morocco (5), Tunisia (5), Egypt (3), Senegal (2)
Ranked by best finish: Senegal (2002 Quarter-Final), Nigeria (1994 Round of 16), Morocco (1986 Round of 16), Tunisia (1978 Group Stage), Egypt (1934 Group Stage)
The Nations in Brief
Nigeria (The Super Eagles)
Key Player: Alex Iwobi
Prediction: The Super Eagles are a good team, and out of the teams from Africa they have
the most history in the World Cup, and are the bookmaker’s favourites from Africa (albeit at
150/1). The team is likely to be captained by John Obi Mikel, who can inspire the team to
overachieve at this world cup. My prediction is that Nigeria will go out at the Group Stage,
but given a positive draw and some luck they may equal their 1994 result.
Egypt (The Pharaohs)
Key Player: Mohamed Salah
Prediction: Egypt can enter this world cup with a great deal of confidence. They finished as
runners-up in the African Cup of Nations and have a game changer in Mohamed Salah.
Egypt are a well-balanced and exciting team, but players like Salah can change a game with
a freekick and therefore I predict Egypt will reach the Quarterfinals.
Senegal (Lions of Teranga)
Key Player: Kalidou Koulibaly
Prediction: Controversy ensued when the match between South Africa and Senegal was
ordered to be replayed after a ridiculous decision by Joseph Lamptey, who was later banned
for life for match manipulation. However, after this controversy and some less than inspiring
performances, Senegal made it to their second World Cup but I do not think it likely that they
will relive the heroics of 2002. Senegal are a solid team but they lack anything special
and for this reason, I cannot see them getting out of the group they are put into.
Morocco (Atlas Lions)
Key Player: Khalid Boutaïb
Prediction: I think placing Morocco at 500/1 is somewhat harsh for a team with a long
history at the world cup. If Morocco are placed in a weak group, they could surprise
everyone and get through to the Round of 16. However, they are more likely to go out in the
group, but will be a tough challenge to any of the bigger teams and most would rather avoid
them. Furthermore, this passionate team, will hope Khalid Boutaïb, who scored a hattrick
against Gabon in qualifiers, will have a good tournament and continue his goal scoring
Tunisia (The Eagles of Carthage)
Key Player: Wahbi Khazri
Prediction: Tunisia is the smallest nation to have made it to the world cup from the African
qualifiers. Indeed, the Tunisia squad includes a large number of players who play
domestically in Tunisia. This could well be a positive for Tunisia, as the players have rapport and know how to play with each other. However, the lack of experience of different leagues and styles of play may be to the detriment of Tunisia, who I would expect to go out in the group stage. Wahbi Khazri has the best chance of making a difference for The Eagles of Carthage, but it falls to the rest of the team to assist him and I am not convinced that they have the quality to do so.
I look forward to seeing the progress of the African nations in the 2018 World Cup. The passion that Africans have for football is fantastic, and it would be great to see a team progress to the later stages. I believe Egypt will be the team to do this in 2018, but keep an eye out on Nigeria and Morocco who may just upset the odds and go further than everyone expects. Senegal and Tunisia are good sides, but up against the best. They may struggle and this World Cup will be a fantastic opportunity for the younger players to cut their teeth on the international stage.
Featured image– New football | Rod Waddington | Flickr
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.
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