With just over 3 months left to set the ball rolling in Russia, the excitement has just started to build up. The world cup is by far the most followed sporting event in the world and 32 teams that have made the cut will have immense expectations from their fans.
FIFA World Cup 2018 will be different from the past editions as giants like Chile, Italy, Netherlands, USA, Ghana have failed to qualify which has paved the way for many new teams. Today we take a look at the African nations that have qualified for the tournament, and their chances of progress.
Over the years, the performance of the African teams has not been up to the mark. No team has ever made it to the Semi-Finals ever in the history of the world cup. Ghana came close to qualifying in 2010, but an unfortunate penalty miss cost them. Cameroon in 1990 me Senegal in 2002 is the only other occasions when African nations have made it to the quarterfinals.
But this time, it may change. Egypt looks to be the strongest among all the teams and also have a favorable group comprising of Uruguay, Saudi Arabia and hosts Russia. Although this is only their third appearance, and have never made it past the group stages before, they can be optimistic. This batch of players is one of the best that they have ever had and qualified comprehensively overcoming Ghana, Uganda, and Congo. Mohammad Salah, who is currently having a dream run in the premier will carry the responsibility of spearheading the attack. With many players in the Premier League, Egypt can have a dream run at the world cup, and if any Africa team is to break the Jinx of not making it to the Semis, it has to be Egypt.
Since 1994, Nigeria has failed to qualify only once, and this will be their 6th appearance at the world cup. Just like Egypt, Nigeria to have the quality to cause upsets and have a good run in the tournament. They have a tricky group of Argentina, Iceland, and Croatia, but qualification for the knockouts will not be surprising. Alex Iwobi, John Obi Mikel, Victor Moses will be the players to watch out for, as well as many of the youngsters who ply their trade in top leagues. Round of 16 is the best that they have managed and will be looking to improve upon that.
Senegal is at the world cup for only the second time in their history, and are surprisingly the highest places African Nation at Russia 2018, with a FIFA rank of 21. With Poland, Columbia and Japan in their group, and many players in Europe just like their 2002 squad, going past the group stage is possible. Aliou Cisse, who was a part of the squad that made it to the quarterfinals in 2002 is the current coach of the side.
Morocco is one of the most improved teams in recent times. This will be the fifth appearance over all the world cup and the first since 1998. They did way to finish above Ivory coast. It’s an exciting young talent who have opted for they are native country rather than the country of birth the future of Moroccan football looks bright. But they have been placed in the group of death with Portugal, Spain, and Iran which makes qualification to knockouts look bleak.
Tunisia too has a difficult group to overcome with the likes of England, Belgium, and debutants Panama. They have many players playing in Belgium and strong Asian Leagues. There have never made it past the group stage in their 5 appearances, and this time too, it is a tough ask. The 3 Arab-African nations have shown how good they can be in the qualifying round. Their players are turning heads in European football and we should not get surprised if one of these nations upset the odds.
Overall, Egypt and Senegal have favorable groups and should consider these lucky. Egypt is by far the strongest team, and can surely make it to the Semi-Finals.
featured image/Egypt today