Senegal, Cameroon, Morocco, Tunisia, and Ghana will be representing Africa in this year’s World cup.
No African country has ever made it beyond the quarter-final of the World cup, not to talk of winning it.
Will that change this year? Your answer is as good as mine but how far can these teams go? That I would be answering in this article.
1. Senegal: The African champions head into this tournament with the strongest team and the most highly ranked team on the continent.
They will be without the services of Bayern Munich’s forward and talisman, Sadio Mane, which has cast a big doubt on the chances of the Teranga Lions.
Even without Mane, Aliou Cisse’s men are still the strongest African team and I reckon they will go the furthest of all the African teams.
They have a World class goalkeeper in Edouard Mendy and a World class center back in Kalidou Koulibaly.
Idrissa Gana Gueye and Cheick Kouyate can provide steel and energy in the midfield.
In the absence of Mane, Ismaila Sarr who has been one of Watford’s consistent players in the Championship, and Salernitana’s Boulaye Die will give any defense a run for their money.
In a group where they will have to play Ecuador and Qatar, it would be surprising if the African champions do not make it beyond the group stage.
2. Morocco: The Atlas Lions might not be as talented as Senegal but they have a group of young players that can take the world by surprise.
They have in their ranks a world-class full-back in Achraf Hakimi and an exciting Bayern Munich right-back, Noussair Mazaoui, the combination of these two is one to look out for.
Hakim Ziyech might be having a catastrophic time at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea but he remains of the best players in his national team. If coach Walid Regragui can get the best out of Ziyech, they will be a tough nut to crack.
They find themselves in a group that has a declining Belgium side and an aging Croatian side.
They might not be experienced but I fancy the chances of this young Moroccan side getting out of the group alive and advancing to the round of 16.
3. Ghana: If the World cup had been played right after the Black stars beat the Super Eagles of Nigeria to one of the World cup tickets for Africa, I would have said that the Black stars are going to Qatar for nothing but things have changed for the four-time African champions.
With the addition of Athletic club’s forward, Inaki Williams and Brighton and Hove Albion’s right back Tariq Lamptey, the Black Stars look like a better side than the one that beat the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
Mohammed Salisu and Daniel Armatey can form a decent center-back pairing and with Thomas Partey in front of them, there is the propensity that they will be difficult to break down.
I expect the Ghanaians to take the safe approach by playing in a low block and relying on the pace of Inaki Williams, Jordan Ayew, and Mohammed Qudus on the counter.
They will be playing in a group that has Portugal and Uruguay who are favorites to qualify out of this group but there is an unpredictability about this Ghanaian side that we should look out for.
4. Cameroon: Former center-back, Rigobert Song will be leading the Indomitable Lions to the World cup for the eighth time in the country’s history, the most of any country in Africa.
They have however gotten more than they have bargained for by being paired alongside favorite Brazil, a strong Serbian and Switzerland side.
The chance of Cameroon qualifying for the next round is as bleak as the light of a fading candle.
5. Tunisia: The North African side pipped Mali to a place in Qatar and they have been grouped alongside defending champions, France, European championship semifinalist, Denmark, and Australia.
The one-time African cup of nations winner are the weakest African side in Qatar and will face two of the tournament’s strongest side in France and Denmark.
It is safe to say that the Carthage Eagles are in Qatar to mark attendance.