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World Cup: Africa’s chances in Russia

The FIFA 2018 World Cup that kick-started in Russia this Thursday will no doubt offer connoisseurs of the intercontinental games the glorious opportunity to see a fresh page being turned in its 21 year old history.

However, in Africa, again, five obvious suspects will try out their luck in dethroning Germany, who are the defending champions. The perennial power house of African football, Cameroon will not participate after falling out of the battle in the qualifying rounds. Perennial campaigners Ivory Coast will also not grace the occasion thus giving this 2018 edition an unknown complexion here in Africa. The tournament could arise again as the most difficult one for African teams, with the current champions of Africa Cameroon nowhere to be seen in the list.

Of all the current participating five, Nigeria is the only team that qualified for the Brazil 2014 world cup.  They have drawn a relatively difficult group that consists of world cup power houses Argentina as led by Lionel Messi. Croatia is another difficult opponent awaiting Nigeria, and judging by their recent form, Nigeria will have to re-double their efforts to go past group stages. The other country is Iceland who rose to football prominence at the last edition of Euro 2016.

One country coming back after long spell is Tunisia who last qualified in 2006. They had a run for their money but relied heavily on experience to go through. Democratic Republic of Congo gave them a headache throughout the qualifying rounds. It is however going to be a torrid time for them at Russia. They will take up England and Belgium – the two are favourites to proceed to the next round. Bookmakers claim that the African country will redeem themselves against low lying side, Panama.

On one hand, Egypt are the reason why Ghana are not participating in Russia. The Pharaohs are making a second appearance after a long spell. The last time they qualified was in 1990 together with Cameroon. Egypt will be fancying their chances against Uruguay, Saudi Arabia and tournaments host, Russia. The Pharaohs are praying that their darling striker, Mohammed Salah will be fit to carry their hopes after picking a shoulder injury last month.

Morocco together with Senegal are resurrecting from the dead after not appearing for so long a time. They are set to prove that they are no cannon fodder for the favourites. Senegal, better known as The lions of Terenga are optimistic they will surpass the 2002 performance and reach the semi final stage. Senegal together with Ghana are the only two countries to have reached the last 8 stages in two separate world cups. No any other team in Africa has gone further than semi finals.

Morocco, driven by the most successful coach in Africa, Herve Renard, carries the hope of North African football. They are the only team to have played all their qualifying games without conceding a goal. But certainly, the taste of the pudding will be in the eating as Africa looks forward to a vintage edition of the world tournament, which could prove that the quality of football in the continent is supposedly back waters is fast improving, and taking any country, no matter how small, for granted is at one’s peril. But the truth still remains; the northern and western countries dominate the entire Africa.

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