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Thursday 19 April 2018
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2018 World Cup: How far can Africa go?

World Cup 2018: Reading Africa’s chances

 

By Emmanuel Timeyin

 

The FIFA World Cup which holds in Russia this summer has five African teams competing with their counterparts from across the world. In this piece, Emmanuel Timeyin of The Difference attempts to trace how the African representatives qualified, rate their chances and highlight the key players on whom the bulk of the responsibilities for carrying the workload of their respective teams in the course of the competition rests. The five African teams that qualified for the competition are: Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal.

 

Nigeria

After the drama of nearly losing its World Cup place due to the embarrassing gaffe of fielding an ineligible player, the Super Eagles of Nigeria would be delighted to be participating in their sixth World Cup. The team’s best outing so far remains its maiden World Cup appearance in USA 1994 where it recorded two wins and two losses and was halted in the Round of 16.

Head Coach: Gernot Rohr

Captain: John Mikel Obi

How they qualified: The Super Eagles emerged victorious in a proverbial ‘group of death’ consisting of Zambia, Cameroon and Egypt.

Group stage Opponents: Argentina, Croatia and Iceland (Group D)

Star Player: Mikel Obi

Players to watch: Alex Iwobi, William Troost-Ekong and Leon Balogun

Verdict: Group Stage

 

Egypt

This would be the Pharaohs third World Cup appearance and its first since 1990. Its best outing is hard to determine as it is yet to win a match at the World Cup even after those attempts.

Head Coach: Héctor Cúper

Captain: Essam El-Hadary

How they qualified: The Pharaohs edged out Ghana, Congo and Uganda in their group to qualify

Group Stage Opponents: Russia, Uruguay, Saudi Arabia (Group A)

Star Player: Mo Salah

Players to watch: Ahmed Hegazy and Mohamed Elneny

Verdict: Round of 16

 

Morocco

This would be the fifth World Cup appearance for the Atlas Lions of Morocco. Their best outing came in Mexico 1986 where they did well to reach the Round of 16.

Head Coach: Hervé Renard

Captain: Medhi Benatia

How they qualified: The Atlas Lions edged out Ivory Coast, Gabon and Mali in its World Cup qualification group

Group Stage Opponents: Portugal, Spain, Iran (Group B)

Star Player: Medhi Benatia

Players to watch: Achraf Hakimi, Sofiane Boufal and Hakim Ziyech

Verdict: Group Stage

 

Tunisia

The Eagles of Carthage would be making its fifth appearance at the 2018 World Cup. Its best outing was at Argentina 1978 where although it failed to emerge from the group stages to the next round, it finished with 4 points.

Head Coach: Nabil Maâloul

Captain: Aymen Mathlouthi

How they qualified: The Eagles of Carthage edged out Libya, DR Congo and Guinea to emerge victorious from their World Cup qualifying group.

Group Stage Opponents: Belgium, England, Panama (Group G)

Star Player: Wahbi Khazri

Players to watch: Youssef Msakni and Ali Maâloul

Verdict: Group Stage

Senegal

This would be the second World appearance for the Lions of Teranga. Their maiden and only World Cup outing was the joint most successful African outing in World Cup history where they finished as Quarter-finalists at that 2002 World Cup event that was staged in South Korea and Japan. Only Cameroon who reached the quarter-finals at the 1990 World Cup can boast of such a feat.

Head Coach: Aliou Cissé

Captain: Cheikhou Kouyaté

How they qualified: The Lions of Teranga edged out South Africa, Burkina Faso and Cape Verde

Group Stage Opponents: Poland, Colombia, Japan (Group H)

Star Player: Sadio Mane

Players to watch: Kalidou Koulibaly, Diafra Sakho and Moussa Sow

Verdict: Round of 16 and with a bit of luck, Quarter-finalists.

 

Super Eagles skipper, John Mikel Obi

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