Watch out for Senegal, but also Ghana, which could create a surprise in Qatar. Our analysis on the chances of African countries at the World Cup.
In seven months, almost to the day, the 22nd World Cup (November 21/December 18) will open its doors in Qatar. We have already had the opportunity to highlight this injustice here, but only five African countries will participate: Senegal, Cameroon, Morocco, Tunisia and Ghana.
In his penultimate column, on Monday April 12, our consultant, Noël Tosi, explained to us that it will be “the World Cup of surprises”, leaving every chance to African countries. It must be said that, if Algeria, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt and Nigeria, strong nations of the African continent, will not be there, there are beautiful people, with Senegal, Cameroon, Morocco , and, not far behind, Ghana and Tunisia.
At least a quarter-final for Senegal?
African champion 2022 after being a finalist in 2019, Senegal logically has the status of the best African country of the moment. Moreover, the Teranga Lions are logically the best placed in the FIFA rankings: 20th .
The players: Goalkeeper Etienne Mendy (Chelsea), centre-back and captain Kaidou Koulibaly and Liverpool striker Sadio Mané are the main stars of the squad, but Parisians Idrissa Gueye and Abdou Diallo are safe bets, just like the former Marseillais Bouna Sarr and the young people of OM, Pape Gueye and Bamba Dieng. A third Marseille could even strengthen the group: Boubakar Kamara, whose sporting naturalization is on the right track.
The coach: in office for 7 years, the former PSG player, Aliou Cissé has the confidence of his players and the Senegalese people. Even if his tactical choices are often criticized, it was he who brought the Teranga Lions to the CAN 2019 final and to victory last February.
Experience : Senegal's main experience is that of its players. Although none have played in the World Cup, many play in the best European clubs, with titles on the line.
The group stage: Senegal fell into group A, that of the host country, the Netherlands and Ecuador. Although Qatar will be keen to shine at home, the Senegalese are favorites to finish in the top two. If they pass at the expense of Qatar, Koulibaly and his teammates will benefit from the table prepared for the home side.
Conclusion: Senegal is the favorite of the Quotidien du Sport to go far in the competition. We see Aliou Cissé's men go to the quarter-finals, on condition of eliminating the organizing country...
MOROCCO plagued by controversy
Presented among the favorites before the last two AFCONs, Morocco disappointed, both in Egypt (eliminated in the round of 16) and in Cameroon (out in the quarter-finals). Consumed internally by governance problems, linked in particular to the personality of Vahid Halilhodzic, the Atlas Lions, will they be able to shine in Qatar? Moreover, not sure that the Bosnian will still be at the head of the selection in seven months. At the heart of the controversy: the absences of Ziyech and Mazraoui, whom the Moroccan people are demanding and to whom the president of the federation is ready to reach out...
The players: goalkeeper Yassine Bono (Sevilla FC), defender and captain Romain Saiss (Wolverhampton), PSG player Achraf Hakimi and Sevilla FC striker Munir El Haddadi are the stars of the team. Without forgetting of course the two players blacklisted by coach Vahid, Hakim Ziyech and Noussair Mazraoui, the right side who will play next season at Bayern Munich.
The coach: impossible to say today who will guide the Moroccans in Qatar. War is declared between the president of the federation and Vahid Halilhodzic. According to rumours, Fouzi Lekjaa, the president of the Royal Federation of Morocco is already looking for a new coach. Experienced coach, Vahid Halilhodzic (the only coach to have qualified three different African countries for a World Cup) has the advantage of having already experienced the competition on a bench, with Algeria (round of 16 in 2014).
Experience : in the Moroccan selection also, there are several experienced players, who play in very good European clubs. But it's not Senegal, even if Morocco were in Russia four years ago and some players have experience of the competition, like Hakimi or Saiss.
The group stage: placed in group F, with Belgium, Croatia and Canada, Morocco will struggle to qualify for the round of 16. But why not ? Croatia is aging and can be surprised.
Conclusion: it is too early to say what Marco's ambition will be in Qatar. We will know more when we know the name of the coach and if he will call on Hakim Ziyech. One thing is certain: there is potential.
CAMEROON has reason to believe in it
After the qualification snatched at the last second against Algeria, Samuel Eto'o, the new president of the federation announced the color to his players: Cameroon will not go to Qatar to make up the numbers. The question is whether the Indomitable Lions will be able to afford it.
The players: Vincent Aboubakar (Al-Nassr), André Onana (Ajax), Karl Toko-Ekambi (Lyon) and Eric Choupo-Moting (Bayern) are the main names in this team, built above all on good club players (l former Marseillais Zambo Anguissa, the Nantes Castelletto and the former Rennais Lea Siliki).
The coach: after the third place obtained at the CAN, Rigobert Song took over from Toni Conceiçao. The record holder of selections with Cameroon is a true legend in his country. Double winner of the CAN with Cameroon, he played in France in Metz and Lens, but also in the Premier League, Liverpool and West Ham, or in the Bundesliga, in Cologne.
Experience: in Cameroon, it is above all the coach who has the most experience at the very highest level. Although Aboubakar played in a World Cup in 2010 (at the age of 18) and Choupo-Moting won the Champions League with Bayern in 2020. Others, like Toko-Ekambi and Onana experienced the European Cup with their club, but the team remains inexperienced on the international scene.
The group: placed in group G, with Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland, Cameroon will have difficulty reaching the eighth. But it is not crazy to believe that Africans can qualify at the expense of Serbia and Switzerland. Second place is very open.
Conclusion: as in the play-offs for the qualification, Cameroon can be one of the nice surprises of the first round of the competition.
TUNISIA will have a hard time
4 th African nation in the FIFA ranking (the 2 nd of the qualifiers), Tunisia is not the best rated before the World Cup. Authors of a sad CAN (qualified as the best third in their group, Tunisia had a good match: against Nigeria in the round of 16), Wahbi Khazri's partners were already at the World Cup four years ago, but failed to get out of a very complicated group (with Belgium and England, two future semi-finalists). This time, the Tunisians are in the group of France.
The players: Stéphanois Wahbi Khazri, top scorer among the players still active, remains the most famous player in a selection lacking in great talent. If a few young players could emerge (like Hannibal Mejri, 19, Manchester United, or Anis Ben Slimane, 21, Brondby), the majority play in modest clubs or good local clubs, such as Esperance Tunis and Club Africain .
The coach: Jalel Kadri (50-year-old Tunisian) was in the right place at the right time. After replacing the coach in place (affected by the Covid), during the CAN, against Nigeria in the round of 16 (1-0 victory), he was officially named No. 1 after the elimination of Tunisia in the quarter of final against Burkina Faso. After having officiated a lot in modest clubs, in Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, he saw his first experience at the head of a selection.
Experience: Tunisia was in Russia and can therefore rely on several players who have already experienced the competition, like Khazri. But the inexperience of the coach remains a disadvantage.
The group: placed in group D, with France, Denmark and a last qualifier (Peru or United Arab Emirates), Tunisia has very little chance of qualifying for the round of 16.
Conclusion : it is hard to see Tunisia leaving its group and having a good run in Qatar.
And why not a feat from GHANA?
Small thumb of the African teams qualified for the World Cup (with the 60th place in the FIFA rankings), Ghana remains on a very disappointing CAN (elimination from the group stage) and arrives at the World Cup on tiptoe , after having however managed the feat of taking out Nigeria in the play-off! This will be Ghana's fourth participation (only absent in 2018) in the last five World Cups.
The players: the brothers (André and Jordan) Ayew are still strong assets for Ghana, which can also count on the excellent midfielder of Arsenal, Thomas Partey. We also find in this selection, the Strasbourgeois Alexander Djiku and the Bordelais Gideon Mensah. But the team lacks talent.
The coach: appointed after the CAN selection rout, Otto Addo (46) will be one of the youngest coaches in Qatar. This is his first position as No. 1, he who was assistant coach at Dortmund and was already working with the part-time selection, as second assistant to Serbian Milovan Rajevac. He started with a feat, qualifying for the World Cup at the expense of Nigeria!
Experience: like its coach, the Ghana selection has very little experience, apart from Partey (winner of the Europa League against OM, with Atketico in 2018) and the Ayew brothers, who were already there in 2014 in Brazil.
The group: placed in group H, with Portugal, Uruguay and South Korea, the Africans have their chance. If the Portuguese are favorites behind, anything is possible.
Conclusion: and why not a feat of the Ghanaians?