Friday 6th December was the day the world of football was waiting for, the day the groups for the World Cup were drawn. It was a strange day in the sense that who ever you passed on the street you know they were thinking about the “perfect” draw. The reality was however that no one actually understood how the draw worked. Fifa has a notoriously inaccurate ranking table and complicated pot system, but lets be honest not having a clue on who you will play makes the draw so much more exciting.
So how did it pan out for the African teams? Well it was a mixed bag, so lets get straight down to business and break the groups down.
What a tough group! you can’t look beyond Brazil for top spot so this is a 3 way battle for 2nd place so you would think. Cameroon maybe cursing their luck but they can be rest assured that both Croatia and Mexico will be too. Cameroon have a top Striker in Samuel Eto’o but he is finding it tough to find the net for Chelsea this season. The real battle is in midfield with both Mexico and Croatia being very strong in that department, for which Alex Song and Stephane Mbia will have to match. Which they are more than capable of doing.
On paper Ivory Coast should qualify from the group but they have a real chance of winning it. With talent such as Didier Drogba, Saloman Kalou, Wilfried Bony and the Toure brothers, it is hard to believe that at the last 2 World Cups they didn’t get out of the group stages. But this is a fresh and in some cases the last chance to impress, but hard work and determination is required. Coach Sabri Lamouchi has got the team working hard off the ball much in the manner that he used to play but it’s his first coaching role so does he have a plan B?
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Nigerians were thanking the footballing gods for smiling down on them by placing them into this group. Argentina will come out on top, but you look at Bosnia who are making their first appearance and Iran who are largely inexperienced and think that the current African champions will finish 2nd. Individually, Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel will have to play well to get Nigeria ticking, but as a unit the Super Eagles show a lot of togetherness and promise which will take them far.
This for me is the hardest group to predict for the second place, Germany are many peoples favourites to lift the trophy so how about Ghana for 2nd? Well in 2010 Ghana made the quarter finals before being cruelly robbed so the experience is there. Ghana also have the players, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Michael Essien, Kwadwo Asamoah and Sulley Muntari have all played at the highest level. So what’s the problem? well, The USA are dark horses and play well as unit making them difficult to break down and Portugal have a good squad with Cristiano Ronaldo leading the line, so Ghana will have to show the same grit and determination as they did in the last World Cup just to get them out of the group.
A lot of people have wrote off Algeria already, after a poor African Cup campaign and only just clinching a World Cup spot Algeria didn’t need a group of death. Group H offers some hope to Algeria, granted Belgium have the potential to go a long way next year. So what about South Korea and Russia? Well Russia have a solid side that only conceded 5 goals and did finish above Portugal in qualifying, but they do lack goals. South Korea are not the team they was 10 years ago, their qualification was far from impressive after finishing on the same points as Uzbekistan. Let’s not get carried away, Algeria have a lot to do but with A keen young squad and nothing to lose, qualification is a real possibility.
How will the African teams do? Let’s be realistic, we are not going to see an African team lift the World Cup! But more and more African players are playing their club football in Europe at the highest level, this was unthinkable 30 years ago as was the thought of an African team getting to the quarter finals of a World Cup but Ghana achieved that in 2010. It is still a work in progress that is starting to pay off, the bigger teams take the likes of Ghana and Nigeria seriously now and that is a victory in itself as well as the foundation for success.
We at African Dazzle Magazine would like to wish the African teams the best of luck and do Africa proud!!
Writting by Alex Griffiths