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Russia 2018: The African Challenge

botchway June 14, 2018

Fifty-three African teams began their quest to make the World Cup finals on October 7, 2015; with the first round qualifiers. Their journey finally ended on November 14, 2017 with five lucky teams securing their tickets to Russia 2018. Nigeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Senegal hold the honour of the continent in Russia.

 

NIGERIA

Nigeria is in a difficult Group D along with Argentina, Croatia and Iceland. For the Super Eagles a good outing against Croatia in their opening match would be preferable as it will set the tone for the other games. Nigeria should put behind the woeful performance in their world cup preparatory matches, and they will have to be on top of their game to do so. The team is coached by 64-year-old German, Gernot Rohr. With proper tactical plan and proper players to execute it, the Eagles may create waves in Russia.

FIFA Ranking: 47

World Cup Appearances: 6

Best showing: R2

 

EGYPT

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After being in the World Cup wilderness for 28 years, The Pharaohs finally returned to centre stage after securing the top position in Group E of the African qualifiers. Egypt kicks off their Group A campaign against Uruguay on June 15, other teams in the group are Russia and Saudi Arabia. Question mark over their injured star man, Mohamed Salah, who was instrumental in getting the team to Russia, still looms large. Coach is Hector Cuper.

FIFA Ranking: 46

World Cup Appearances: 3

Best showing: R1

 

TUNISIA

Africa’s highest ranked team faces a tough campaign in Russia in Group G with England, Belgium and Panama. Tunisia has a decent World Cup pedigree having beaten Mexico 3-1 and drawn goalless with West Germany in their very first outing in 1978. Despite the odds Tunisia will still fancy their chances of ruffling some feathers in Russia. Coach is Nabil Maaloul

FIFA Ranking: 14

World Cup Appearances: 5

Best showing: R1

 

MOROCCO

Morocco, who has made four appearances at the Mundial, came through Group C African qualifiers by upstaging continental powerhouse Cote d’Ivoire both home and away, but Russia offers a different ball game altogether. Morocco is acutely aware of the tough group B they are in, along with European Champions Portugal, 2010 winners Spain and Iran. Coach is Herve Renard.

FIFA Ranking: 42

World Cup Appearances: 5
Best showing: R2

 

SENEGAL

On paper the Teranga Lions look the strongest of the African qualifiers and kick off their Group H campaign on June 19 against Poland. Other Opponents include Colombia and Japan. Coach Aliou Cisse will take a reminder of Senegal’s dream World Cup debut in 2002 to Russia. Cisse was captain of the 2002 team and returns to the World Cup as coach of his country.

FIFA Ranking: 28

World Cup Appearances: 2

Best showing: QF

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