Can Africa pull off the surprise in Qatar?

Can Africa pull off the surprise in Qatar?
Fecha de publicación: 
18 November 2022
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Ghana, Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco, and Cameroon will be the five national teams representing the African continent at the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, after an exhausting qualifying process involving 53 countries of the region and kicked off back in September 2019.

The biggest absence will be Mohamed Salah’s Egypt, which lost to Senegal, team of his former Liverpool’s teammate Sadio Mané, and Riyad Mahrez’s Algeria, which lost to Cameroon. Of those qualified for the World Cup, Senegalese and Cameroonian along with Ghanaian are the team with greater track record.

Cameroon was the first big African surprise in the history of World Cups, with that national team dazzling the entire world in 1990 and 1994. Then, Senegal shone in 2002 and when Africa hosted the World Cup in 2010, Ghana reached the quarterfinals.

These three teams are dangerous for any of their opponents. The same goes for Morocco. But Senegal was slotted in a somewhat easy pool. Qatar and Ecuador are the teams to beat for the second place, as the first should go to the Netherlands.

Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy (Chelsea FC), Center back Kaidou Koulibaly (Chelsea FC), midfielders Pape Sarr (Tottenham) and Idrissa Gana Gueye (Everton) and striker Sadio Mané (Bayern Munich) —on hold due to a last-minute injury— are the main faces for Senegal, which aims to repeat that deed in the World Cup organized by South Korean and Japan in 2002, when they started with a resound victory over the then title holders France, and reached quarterfinals.

Led by Aliou Cissé, the Teranga Lions are the current champions of the Africa Cup of Nations, after beating Egypt in the penalty shoot-out, so they know how to play clutch matches. However, if Mané is not physically well, they may not advance that much.

Morocco also features prominent figures such as goalkeeper Yacine Bono (Sevilla), winger Achraf Hakimi (PSG), defender Noussair Mazraoui (Bayern Munich) and attackers Munir El Haddadi (Getafe) and Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea), although they are in a complicated pool with Belgium, Canada and Croatia.

With less stars on their lists, Ghana and Cameroon will be difficult rivals for everyone. Meanwhile, Tunisia is the one with less chances, although this World Cup may be unpredictable with so much heat and this weird date.

However, the cheerful and indifferent game of the African teams is capable of the best as well as the worst. In Qatar, we will see if any African national team can survive the group stage. Perhaps they go further.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff

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