RUSSIA 2018: It Is Time For Africa To Rise Up
By Taiwo Ibrahim (Sportivation)
In The History of the FIFA World Cup, no African team has ever won it despite participating in the Mundial since 1970
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The South Americans and the Europeans have held sway in the competition thus leaving other continents to watch while they dominate.
Let’s check out African teams performances in the world cup since 1970, it has been a story of near misses for the African representatives.
In 1970, Fourteen African Countries entered the qualification process, The Atlas Lion of Morocco got the single ticket ahead of closest challenger, Tunisia by a toss of the coin.
Morrocco were paired in group 4 alongside West Germany, Peru and Bulgaria.
They lost 2-1 against West Germany and got spanked 3-0 by Peru before earning a point by playing a 1-1 draw with Bulgaria, The Atlas Lions crashed out of the competition by earning the first point for an African Nation at the World Cup.
In 1974, Twenty four African Countries took part in the qualifying series but Zaire(now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo) qualified comfortably by scoring 18 goals and conceding just 5 goals in 10 matches.
The Tournament was hosted by Mexico, DR Congo were placed in group 2 alongside Brazil, Scotland and Yugoslavia, they lost their first match 2-0 against Scotland, they capitulated against Yugoslavia by losing 9-0 their catastrophic participation came to an end with a 4-0 drubbing in the hand of Brazil.
DR. Congo crashed out of the Tournament without scoring a goal.
In 1978, Twenty Six African Countries entered the qualifying series Tunisia edged Morrocco to qualify by beating the Atlas Lions of Morocco via penalty shootout.
It was the first time penalty shootout will be used in the history of FIFA World Cup qualification.
The Carthage Eagles were placed in group 2 alongside West Germany, Poland and Mexico.
Tunisia earned the first ever win recorded by an African team in the history of the FIFA World cup when they fought back from a goal down to beat Poland 3-1, they lost to Mexico 1-0 and played out a goalless draw with West Germany, unfortunately that feat was not enough for them to qualify for the next round, they crashed out with their heads held high for making history.
In 1982, Twenty Nine African Countries competed for two spots in the qualification series, Algeria and Cameroon qualified to represent Africa in the competition that was hosted by Spain, Espana 82′.
Cameroon was placed in group 1 alongside Peru, Poland and Italy.
The Indomitable Lions played out a goalless draw against Peru and Poland before playing a 1-1 draw against Italy to crash out of the Competition, it was a painful exit for the Cameroonians who felt hard done that Roger Milla’s goal against Peru was incorrectly ruled out for Offside in their first match.
Algeria were placed in group two alongside West Germany, Austria, and Chile
The Desert Foxes caused a major upset in their first match by beating West Germany 2-1 courtesy of goals from Lakhdar Belloumi and Rabah Madjer, they lost their second match against Austria 2-0 before stunning Chile 3-2.
Unfortunately, Algeria crashed out due to inferior goal difference after winning two matches, history was made but progress was denied, the Foxes went home with their heads held high for making history as the first African side to win two matches in the history of the FIFA World Cup.
In 1986, Twenty Nine African Countries slugged it out for two spots, Algeria made another history by becoming the first African Country to qualify for two consecutive World Cup.
Morrocco also joined the Algerians to represent Africa in Mexico 86′.
Algeria failed to replicate their 1982 heroics by crashing out in the first round after losing 1-0 against Spain and 3-0 against Brazil before playing out a 1-1 draw against Northern Ireland.
But Morocco took up the mantle of Algeria’s impact in 1982 by qualifying for the second round of the tournament after playing out a goalless draw against Poland and England before beating Portugal 3-1 to become the first African team to qualify for the second round in World Cup history.
The Reward for their impressive first-round performance was a clash with West Germany in the second round, Goalkeeper Badou Zaki kept them in the game by pulling off several saves but he was finally beaten by Lothar Matthaus 87th minute strike to end the Moroccans hopes of going further in the competition.
In 1990, Twenty Six African Countries entered the Qualification process but Cameroon and Egypt qualified for the Mundial in Italy, Italia 90′
Egypt were placed in Group F alongside, England, Ireland and the Netherlands.
The Pharaohs played out a 1-1 draw with the Netherlands, 0-0 draw with Ireland before losing their last match against England to crash out of the competition with one goal scored by Magdi Abdelghani.
The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon were the surprise package of the competition, they beat the defending champions, Argentina 1-0 in their first match despite finishing the match with nine men.
In their Next Match against Poland, Legendary Roger Milla scored a brace to give the Cameroonians victory over the Polish.
After sealing their qualification to the next round, they lost an inconsequential match to Soviet Union (now known as Russia) 4-0.
Cameroon defeated Colombia in the second round 2-1 courtesy of Roger Milla’s goals after he came off the bench to score the two vital goals that sent Cameroon to the quarterfinals of the competition.
The reward for that historic feat was a mammoth clash against the three lions of England in the last eight.
The Atmosphere was tense the Continent stood still expecting a miracle, The Indomitable Lions were just seven minutes away from history when the referee awarded a penalty to England which was converted by Gary Lineker to send the match into extra time, Lineker was the hero as he scored another penalty after the Cameroonian goalkeeper fouled Lineker, he stepped up and send the goalkeeper the wrong way to send Cameroon out of the Competition.
In 1994, Forty African Countries vied for three slots to qualify for the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United State of America.
The extra slot was awarded because of the impressive performances of African representatives in the past editions of the FIFA World Cup, most notably Cameroon in Italia 90′.
At the end of the qualification series, Nigeria, Morocco and Cameroon booked the slots to represent Africa in the Mundial.
In Group B Cameroon had to battle it out with Sweden, Brazil and Russia to repeat their exploits in 1990 but they fell short by losing to Brazil 3-0, they were spanked 6-1 by Russia, they played out a 2-2 draw against Sweden to crash out of the competition.
Morocco could not earn even a point as they lost all their matches in group F, Belgium beat the Atlas Lions 1-0, the Netherlands also beat them 2-1 and Saudi Arabia won 2-1 against Morroco.
Nigeria were placed in Group D alongside Bulgaria, Argentina and Greece.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria thumped Bulgaria 3-0 in their first match, they lost to Argentina 2-1 before beating Greece 2-0 to qualify for the second round
The reward for that feat was a clash against Italy, the super eagles took the lead in the 25th minute through Emmanuel Amuneke, Nigeria were just two minutes away from history before Roberto Baggio restored parity in the 88th minute to send the match into extra time, Baggio Nigerians heart with another goal in extra time to send Nigeria out of the Competition.
In 1998, Thirty-Eight African Countries competed for five slots, after FIFA increased it from three to five because of African Teams performances in the past editions most notably, Nigeria in 1994.
Cameroon, Morocco, Nigeria, Tunisia and South Africa qualified among the rest to represent Africa in France, France 98′.
Morocco found themselves in Group A alongside Norway, Brazil and Scotland. they drew their first match against Norway 2-2, lost to Brazil 3-0 before redeeming their image with a 3-0 win against Scotland. but that was not enough as the Atlas Lions could not devour enough prey to qualify to the next round.
Cameroon were placed in group B alongside Italy, Austria and Chile.
The Indomitable Lions played out a 1-1 draw against Austria, they lost 3-0 against Italy before playing out another 1-1 draw against Chile to crash out of the competition, a win against Chile would have sealed their place in the next round.
Debutant, South Africa were placed in group C France, Denmark and Saudi Arabia.
The Bafana Bafana lost 3-0 against South Africa, drew 1-1 against Denmark before playing out a 2-2 draw against Saudi Arabia to exit the competition in the first round in their first time of asking.
Nigeria repeated their 1994 heroics in France by beating Spain 3-2 in their first match in group D they recorded another 1-0 win against Bulgaria before losing a dead rubber game against Paraguay 3-2 to book a place in the next round of the competition.
Nigeria were rewarded with a clash with Denmark in the round of 16, but the Super Eagles could not fly over their Danish opponent as they lost 4-1 to crash out of the Mundial in the second round.
Tunisia could not do any better as they lost their first two matches against England 2-0 and Colombia 1-0 before salvaging a point in their last game against Romania by playing a 1-1 draw.
In 2002, Fifty-One African Countries jostled for five slots to qualify for the 2002 FIFA World Cup co-hosted Korea/ Japan.
Four of the teams that represented Africa in the 1998 edition made a return in 2002 with only Morocco missing out, Senegal took their place as they were on the verge of making history.
Senegal started the competition with a shock 1-0 win against defending champions, France courtesy of Papa Diop’s solitary strike, they drew 1-1 with Denmark before playing a 3-3 draw against Uruguay in their last match despite racing to a 3-0 lead at a point in the game.
The Teranga Lions booked a place in the second round where they ousted Sweden through the golden goal rule, Henri Kamara scored the clincher in extra time to send Senegal to the quarterfinals.
Senegal lost out to Turkey through the golden goal rule just four minutes into extra time to bring their fairytale run in the competition to a sad end.
In Group B, South Africa played out a 2-2 draw in their first match against Paraguay and recorded their first ever win in the history of the FIFA World cup by beating Slovenia 1-0 before losing their last match against Spain 3-2 to crash out of the Competition.
In Group E, Cameroon drew 1-1 with the Republic of Ireland in their first match, defeated Saudi Arabia 1-0 before losing to Germany 2-0 to crash out in the first round.
in Group F, Nigeria lost their first two matches against Argentina and Sweden before playing out a goalless draw against England in the last match.
In Group H, Tunisia finished with a point after losing against Korea and Russia before playing a 1-1 draw against Belgium to crash out of the competition.
Only Senegal qualified for the second round other African Teams failed to qualify for the next round crashing out in the Group stage.
In 2006, Fifty-One African Countries took part in the qualifying series, this time around two underdogs made it to the World Cup.
Togo and Angola were joined by Ivory Coast, Ghana and Tunisia to represent the Continent in Germany 2006.
In Group C, Ivory Coast lost their first two matches against Argentina and Holland before coming back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Serbia and Montenegro 3-2 to redeem their image, but they still crashed out.
In Group D, Angola lost their first match to Portugal before playing a 0-0 draw with Mexico and a 1-1 draw with Iran to end their debut participation in the World Cup.
In Group G, Togo lost all their three matches against South Korea, Switzerland and France to end their debut appearance in the Mundial without a point.
In Group E, Ghana redeemed Africans pride by qualifying for the second round after negotiating their way past the likes of Czech Republic and USA, but they lost to eventual Champions, Italy.
Their Fairytale run was halted when they lost 3-0 to Brazil in the second round to crash out of the competition.
In 2010, The World Cup was hosted by South Africa the first time the competition will be played in Africa.
Six African teams qualified for the competition along with the host, South Africa.
Sadly, South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Ivory Coast and Cameroon all crashed out in the first round.
Ghana were on the verge of history after beating USA in the round of 16 to qualify for the Quarter Finals where they were knocked out by Uruguay via a penalty shootout.
Another opportunity to get to the quarterfinals was missed again, the wait continues.
In 2014, Five African Teams qualified for the World Cup in Brazil.
Nigeria and Algeria made history by qualifying for the second round, the first time two African teams will qualify for the second round in the history of the FIFA World Cup.
Ghana, Cameroon and Ivory Coast all crashed out in the first round, leaving Algeria and Nigeria to redeem Africa’s image.
Nigeria lost to France 2-0 in the second round to crash out of the competition, while Algeria lost to Germany to head home after a promising start to the competition.
So, The Waiting continues for African Team to qualify for the Semi-Finals of the FIFA World Cup.
Let’s Dissect African Teams Chances of Surpassing the Quarter-Final Stage in Russia 2018.
MOROCCO: The Atlas qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia by scoring eleven goals and conceding none in a group that had Ivory Coast, Gabon and Mali.
The Team is tutored by Herve Renard who won the 2015 AFCON with Ivory Coast, he was also voted the best coach in Africa by CAF.
Morocco will be appearing in their 5th FIFA World Cup in Russia, they finished the qualifying series unbeaten.
Their last appearance in the Competition was in France 1998, where they crashed out in the First Round.
The Moroccans are used to their entertaining style of play, counter-attacking and high pressing.
CAPTAIN; Mehdi Benatia (Juventus, Italy)
Player To Watch; Sofiane Boufal is an attacking midfielder who plays for Southampton in England
They will have to slug it out with the likes of Spain, Portugal and Iran for a place in the second round.
VERDICT: The Atlas have a big task ahead of them if they are to advance to the next round of the competition, Spain and Portugal are the biggest obstacles to their progress on paper, but football is not played on paper and you can’t rule out a shocker at the end of proceedings.
This is a competition where every player wants to give his best to show the whole world what he is capable of doing, barring any unforeseen circumstances, I honestly don’t think Morocco will make it past the group stage.
TUNISIA: The Carthage Eagles qualified for the World Cup by beating the likes of DR Congo, Libya and Guinea to the sole ticket in group A.
Tunisia won four matches and drew two as they finished the series undefeated scoring eleven goals and conceding four.
DR Congo gave them a hot chase as they finished one point behind Tunisia to miss out on the slot.
Tunisia will be appearing in their 5th World Cup their last appearance was in 2006 when they crashed out in the first round.
Tunisia are the first African team to win a World Cup match, in 1978 they defeated Mexico 3-1.
Coach: Nabil Maaloul who played for Tunisia 74 times before hanging his boots, he represented Tunisia in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.
The Carthage Eagles are known for their pacy, entertaining and high pressing style but they will have to slug it out with the likes of Belgium, England and Panama in Group G.
CAPTAIN: Aymen Mathlouthi (Al Batin, Saudi Arabia)
KEY PLAYER: Youssef Msakni ( Al-Duhail, Qatar)
VERDICT: This is another tough group for Tunisia with European heavyweights Belgium and England standing on their way to the next round, it promises to be interesting, on paper you want to fancy the Belgians and the Three Lions to scale through, but England have not been convincing in competitions.
If Tunisia can avoid defeat in their first match against England, I am giving them an outside chance to book a place in the second round of the competition, but it won’t come easy they need to fight for each other on the pitch.
Realistically, I don’t see them getting past the quarter-final hurdle that has been the bane of African Teams.
SENEGAL; The Teranga Lions qualified for the World Cup by beating the likes of South Africa, Cape Verde and Burkina Faso to the sole spot in the Group.
They scored ten goals and conceded three as they finished the series undefeated to qualify for their third World Cup.
They are tutored by Aliou Cisse who played for the Senegalese National Team before retiring in 2005.
Senegal will have to negotiate their way past the likes of Poland, Columbia and Japan to book a place in the second round.
CAPTAIN: Cheik Kouyate ( West Ham, England)
KEY PLAYER: Saidu Mane ( Liverpool, England)
VERDICT: The Teranga Lions have a big chance to qualify in Group H.
Their first match is against Poland, with the array of players in their team Senegal should not have a problem dealing with Japan, Poland and Columbia.
They are one of shining hopes for Africa, they have players who play for top clubs in Europe on paper the team should give any team a run for their money.
They are known for their Physical style of play, their players are very strong and technical, their opponents will find it difficult to cope with their style.
If All goes according to plan, and they have the luck of the draw, Senegal have a chance of getting past the second round and even beyond.
I will give them a 70/30 chance of reaching the second round.
EGYPT: The Pharaohs of Egypt garnered 13 points from six matches to qualify for their third World Cup, their first in 28 years.
Ghana couldn’t give them enough fight for the spot as the black stars finished third on the log to miss out on the Mundial.
Egypt were the First African Country to play in the FIFA World Cup in 1934.
Experienced Argentine coach, Hector Cuper is leading them to their first World Cup in 28 years and the hope of a Nation rests on the Shoulders of a certain Mohammed Salah who played a pivotal role by scoring five goals in the qualifying series including a last-minute penalty that confirmed their qualification.
COACH: Hector Cuper
CAPTAIN; Essam El Hadary ( Al Taawoun, Saudi Arabia)
KEY PLAYER: Mohammed Salah: ( Liverpool, England)
The Pharaohs of Egypt will battle it out with Russia, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia for a place in the next round.
VERDICT: This is another opportunity for an African team to progress though it does not look easy Egypt should be able to scale through especially with the threat of Salah who can singlehandedly get the job done for the Egyptians if they can get a positive result against Uruguay in the first round, then I don’t see any reason why they should not make it past the first round.
Another factor that could work for them is the experience of their coach, Hector Cuper who has coached great sides in Europe namely Valencia, Internazionale Milan.
Realistically, I will give the Pharaohs an 80/20 chance of progressing beyond the first round, but can they surpass the Quarterfinal hurdle? that remains to be seen, I can’t stick my neck out for that.
NIGERIA; The Super Eagles of Nigeria became the First African Team to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia doing so with two matches to spare.
Nigeria found themselves in the group of death understandably so, because the group had three teams that qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Cameroon, Algeria, Zambia stood in the way of Nigeria, but the Super Eagles demonstrated their ability to soar over their competitors.
Nigeria won their first three matches to put themselves in a firm position to clinch the sole slot in the group, they ended the qualification series with a clean record of going undefeated.
COACH; Gernot Rohr
CAPTAIN: John Mikel Obi (Tianjin Teda, China)
KEY PLAYER: John Mikel Obi (Tianjin Teda, China)
The Super Eagles of Nigeria will slug it out with Argentina, Croatia and Iceland for a place in the next round.
VERDICT; Nigeria have improved under the tutelage of German coach, Gernot Rohr who has overseen a transformation in the team since he took over.
The unity among the players, the players are ready to fight for their place the team is a mixture of young and experienced players.
The likes of Iwobi, Iheanacho, Simon Moses have shown desire and hunger to represent Nigeria.
John Mikel Obi, Onazi, Ahmed Musa have been around for a while so they are playing the role of elder statesmen in the team.
Nigerians are optimistic that with the array of young and enterprising players in the team, they should be able to do well in the competition.
Nigeria needs to sort out their over-reliance on Mikel, there is no suitable replacement for the former Chelsea midfielder.
There is no suitable plan B for the ‘Oyinbo’ wall led by Leon Balogun and Troost Ekong, the goalkeeping dilemma has not been solved yet but it is looking like the spot is Uzoho’s slot to lose.
If Nigeria can sort out these aforementioned positions they should be able to give Nigerians something to cheer in June.
If Nigeria can avoid defeat in their first match against Croatia, Nigeria should be able to negotiate their way out of the first round.
Thankfully enough, NFF have ensured that there will be no bonus brouhaha that engulfed the team in 2014 which also affected the team’s performance.
Senegal, Egypt and Nigeria are my best bets to qualify for the next round.
AFRICANS RECORD-BREAKING FEATS IN WORLD CUP HISTORY
: Roger Milla is the oldest goalscorer in World Cup history, he scored at the age of 42 against Russia in 1994.
2010: South Africa, the first African country to host the World Cup
1986: Algeria, first African team to qualify twice in a row (1982 and 1986)
2014: Stephen Keshi of Nigeria, first African coach to reach the round of 16
2014: Algeria, first African team to score four goals in one match, in the 4-2 win against South Korea
1978: Tunisia, first African country to win a match at the World Cup Finals, with 3-1 over Mexico
1990: Magdi Abdelghani of Egypt, first African to score a penalty at the World Cup in the 1-1 draw against the Netherlands
1994: Nigeria scored the biggest African win at the World Cup Finals, 3-0 over Bulgaria
1978: Abdelmajid Chetali of Tunisia first African coach at the World Cup Finals
1970: Morocco, the first African country to score a goal at the World Cup Finals, with a 1-1 draw against Bulgaria
1934: Abdulrahman Fawzi of Egypt, first African to score at the World Cup, who scored both Egypt’s goals in a 2-4 loss against Hungary.
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