By Basil Afoni
With just a few months left before Brazil and Croatia open this year’s tournament at The Arena Corinthians in São Paulo, Africans have begun to switch their focus from foreign football to their respective national team’s chances. Lions4life takes a look at some of the efforts put forth by the five African teams to see that the continents’ flag fly high in Brazil come June, 2014. Although Africans have tried and have only ended at the quarter-finals level, they will be hoping to see that their darling teams break the jinx and bring back the most prestigious trophy back home.
The Fennec Foxes of Algeria
The Fennec Foxes have made three FIFA World Cup finals. They got off to the best possible start at the 1982 edition in Spain, beating West Germany 2-1 in their opening game. Despite a 3-2 victory over Chile in their final group game, an earlier 2-0 loss to Austria meant that they were eliminated on goal difference. Algeria is the only team in World Cup history that won 2 games but still can’t qualify to the next round in the World Cup. This same edition witnessed a shameful act against Algeria by Austria and West Germany, when they refused to play fair football in the game matching them together, to draw and grant them both the qualification ticket. The rules of FIFA changed afterwards because of this incident, making all third pool games starting at the same time, to avoid such acts from happening. In Mexico 1986 and South Africa 2010, Algeria had its worst results. In both editions, The Fennec Foxes came back with just a point in each of the editions. Algeria has met Korea in a friendly fixture in which Korea beat them 2-0.They have met Belgium twice recording a draw and a defeat. Meanwhile, they pulled a tie in their only meeting with Russia in a friendly fixture.
The Black Stars of Ghana
In their first World Cup appearance, Ghana beat the Czech Republic and the USA before been eliminated by Brazil in the second round. In 2010, they were again the only side from the continent to reach the quarter finals. Ghana’s loss by penalties to Uruguay in the last eight was perhaps the most dramatic moment of the tournament. This year, the draw was not merciful for the Ghanians, setting them in the group of death with Germany, Portugal and USA. Ghana has lost to Germany on two occasions; two wins against USA and have never met Portugal.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria
Nigeria after an impressive performance in their first two FIFA World Cup appearances, 1994 and 1998, they have been limping since: going out at the group stage three times. The Super Eagles are in a fair group with Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran. Nigeria has played Argentina six times, four wins for Argentina, 1 win for Nigeria and 1 draw. They have also registered a win against Iran and have never met Bosnia.
The Elephants of Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast has never made it past the group stage of the FIFA World Cup finals, but it is perhaps worth pointing out that the draw has never smiled towards them. For their debut appearance in 2006, the Elephants shared Group C with Argentina, Netherlands and Serbia and Montenegro. They finished third in the pool, just as they did in South Africa four years later when they were drawn alongside Brazil, Portugal and Korea Republic. However, this edition, the draw was easy on Cote d’Ivoire as they were set with a fair group with equal chances to qualify: Columbia, Japan, and Greece. They will be meeting two of their opponents for the first time: Columbia and Greece, while they have played Japan three times suffering two defeats and just a win for them.
Indomitable Lions Of Cameroon
Perhaps no team has done more to shake up perceptions of African football like the Indomitable Lions. In their first appearance in 1982, they ended at the group stage undefeated, having drawn 0-0 with both Peru and Poland and 1-1 with eventual winners Italy. They will return eight years later to write their names into the annals of the game by beating holders Argentina and becoming the first African side to reach the quarter-finals in 1990. That breakthrough performance remains their finest showing, group-stage exits having followed in 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2010. The draw was a little bit tough on Cameroon, putting them in the first group with the hosts, Brazil, Mexico and Croatia. They have suffered three defeats against Brazil and a win for Cameroon. They were also beaten in their lone meeting against Mexico and have never played against Croatia. With just under two months left before Brazil and Croatia open this year’s tournament at The Arena Corinthians in São Paulo, Africans have begun to switch their focus from professional football to their respective national team’s chances. Africans will be praying to see that an African team breaks the jinx and bring back the trophy to Africa.