Can an African nation dominate until the end?

Raghav Sikka

This World Cup is very special for the African continent as more African teams than ever before are competing in the tournament. It is also the first time for an African country to be chosen as the hosts of the world’s biggest sporting event. The six African teams participating include hosts South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Algeria, Cameroon and Ivory Coast.

Out of the six teams, Ivory Coast definitely has the strongest side with Chelsea’s two ace strikers Didier Drogba and Saloman Kalou along with Barcelona’s strategic midfielder, Yaya Toure. Nevertheless being the strongest side in Africa might not get Ivory Coast too far in the World Cup as Group G, also named as the Group of Death consists of Brazil, Portugal and North Korea. The Ivorians play in undoubtedly the toughest group in the World Cup. So what do you predict? Can Ivory Coast produce some shockers against the two Portuguese speaking nations? If yes, will it be Drogba who will take them to glory? I am anticipating major twists in Group G’s tale and simply cannot wait to see the outcome of this group.

Ghana and Nigeria are the other two teams that look in good form this World Cup. Although two of Chelsea’s star midfielders, Michael Essien from Ghana and John Obi Mikel from Nigeria will not be playing due to knee and ankle injuries. How crucial will their absence turn out to be?

Unfortunately Bafana Bafana, a popular name for the boys in the South African team, have a long way to go before they can be compared to the caliber of dominant sides in Europe and South America. Currently South Africa ranks 83rd in the FIFA/Coca-Cola world rankings and have won only once against Slovenia in 2002. What do you predict this time? Will home soil help to change that record?

Africa as a continent has a long history of producing some of the world’s most talented players but talent hasn’t really transformed into success in the World Cup. None of the African teams have ever passed the quarterfinals stage in the history of the World Cup. Even Asia where football is relatively less popular has bested Africa by reaching the semifinals in 2002.

I personally would love to see an African team win the World Cup. Winning the World Cup for an African nation will not only bring hope for change in Africa’s social condition but will also lessen corruption, improve governance and sports facilities across the continent, creating more and more classy players like Didier Drogba, Saloman Kalou, Dominic Adiyiah and Yaya Toure.

The two African teams I am backing this World Cup are Nigeria and Ghana. But the big question is: Can one of them go pass the quarterfinals stage and change Africa’s history?

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