Though many African teams are drawn in seemingly tricky groups, their performance shows that an African team can reach the quarter-finals of the most lucrative soccer event in the world.
Qualifying to the knockout stages of the world cup is never easy. Many African teams have always been eliminated at the preliminary phase, but this time at least two can cruise to the knockout phase.
One of the African teams that has been a surprise is Ghana. The black stars without their midfield talisman Michael Essien shocked Serbia during their opening game by 1-0 win. The Serbians had kept a clean sheet during the entire qualifying phase of the event.
This memorable victory gave Ghana momentum to aim for better results in their next fixtures against group opponents. Win against Serbia showed that Ghana has high probability of qualifying to the knockout phase alongside European giants Germany. Ghana will play German on June 23 as their last game of the preliminary round.
Ghana’s midfield is star studded and serves as the distribution centre for the wings towards its strikers. No wonder it became the first African team to qualify for the World Cup after winning its first four matches without conceding a goal.
Though Ghana looks solid in the defense and midfield, the team needs strikers that can create their own chances and score at any given time. The left back position has always been weak for Ghana, and the earlier it patches that hole, the better.
Ghana’s goalkeeper Richard kingson was the man of the match for black stars as he made brilliant saves against offensive Serbians.
Ivory Coast is another African powerhouse at the world cup. The Ivorians had an outstanding display against Portugal and are tipped to qualify for the second round a head of Brazil, Portugal and North Korea.
With Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Gervinho, Aruna Dindane, Amara Diane, Bakari Kone, Didier Zokora, Tiete, Yaya and Kolo Toure , Ivory coast firepower seems endless. With strikers starting in some of the most successful European clubs, the Ivorians seem to have one of the most impressive attacking lineups in the tournament.
The team has a strong physical ability ahead of their opponents.And with skipper Drogba recovering from his shoulder injury that nearly kept him out of the starting line-up against Portugal, the English premier league top scorer should be fit to face Brazil this Sunday.
Besides, Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria and Cameroon have almost ended their hopes of qualifying to the knockout phase.
The Nigerians lost their first two group games and hopefully are out of the tournament. Their last game is against South Korea, but the eagles will find it very hard to earn even a point. Nigeria is amongst the African nations at the world cup who will end up with 0 points out of possible 9 points. They lost against Argentina and Greece.
Though the team is blessed with several top-rate strikers such as Yakubu (Everton), Obafemi Martins (Wolfsburg), Osaze Odemwingie (Locomotiv Moscow), Victor Obinna (Malaga), Chinedu Obasi (Hoffenheim) and Ikechukwu Uche (Real Zaragoza).
The super eagles have not been able to put up a great challenge against seemingly tough group opponents.
However the future look good for the Nigerians manned with some uprising youngstars like Lukmann Haruna.
At 19, Haruna is the youngest player on Nigeria’s 23-man World Cup squad. Just three years ago, he led Nigeria to victory in the Fifa Under-17 World Cup in South Korea.
The young midfielder for AS Monaco has been training with the national team since 2008 and made his senior debut against Sudan early that year. But he has gate-crashed into the Super Eagles only over the last three weeks with eye-catching displays in a couple of warm-up games. His performance during their opening games has been impressive.
The defense, and more specifically the heart of the back line, has proved to be the Achilles’ heel of this team. The coaches are yet to find a fine combination in the middle of the back four.
Everton’s Joseph Yobo has played alongside Danny Shittu, Dele Adeleye and Obinna Nwaneri, but there is still no ideal pairing in sight yet. Goal keeper Vincent Enyeama is in great form to keep Nigeria hopes alive for the next round.
South Africa is also mathematically out of the tournament after losing heavily to physically fit Uruguayans. Though they are skillful and quick, lack of physical preparedness and weak central defense saw the hosts lose 3-0 in the hands of Uruguay.
Their first choice goal keeper was also shown a red card and this means South Africa play their last game against France without their on-form shot stopper. Goalkeepers have always been of a high quality in the host nation, and the present crop is no different.