Out of the six African teams in the World Cup this summer, four are from West Africa. It is the first time that the World Cup has been held on the African continent, and it would be a momentous occasion for its people and African football if one these teams could go all the way. West Africa is a dominant force in African football and regularly produces stars that play for top European clubs. We took a look at the four teams from West Africa and their chances of success in this World Cup.
Also know as the Indomitable Lions, a tribute to their habit of grinding out results, Cameroon have long been flag bearers for Africa on the world stage since their first world cup in 1982.
Cyprian, one of our tour operators in Cameroon feels confident;
“I am almost sure that Cameroon can get to the second round at the world cup, but we still need discipline in the team to produce good results.
Our super star Samuel Eto’o has had some arguments with the management. If this is resolved then he will be explosive at the world cup and his performance could help Cameroon to the quarter finals at least. That is my forecast, anyway, let’s wait and see!”
With a group including the Netherlands, Denmark and Japan it will be challenging, but not impossible. They must find a way of getting the best out of Samuel Eto'o to progress.
In Côte d’Ivoire everyone is wearing orange – the colour of the strip of their national team, The Elephants. Hopes have been dampened by the fact there’ll be no Didier Drogba, but they're managed by Sven-Goran Eriksson who may have a trick up his sleeve (some England fans may disagree!).
I read that one hundred Côte d’Ivoire fans are heading to South Africa on an all-expenses paid trip to watch their team. The country's national supporters club, the National Elephants Supporters Committee, drew the 100 names from their membership. Anyone with a $4 membership was included in the draw, touted as a way to thank ordinary fans who would never be able to afford the trip to the World Cup. A local tour operator is offering a similar trip for about $4,000. Whilst this is a nice gesture and will be a great trip for these fans, it highlighted to me how unattainable it is for a lot of local fans to attend the World Cup.
Côte d’Ivoire seems to be attracted to the ‘group of death’ with the best teams in major tournaments. This time round is no different with a group including Brazil, Portugal and North Korea. There will be a chance for the talented Aruna Dindane and Salomon Kalou to make their mark, and the side has strength in holding midfielder Yaya Touré. Sven Goran-Eriksson needs to improve the underachievement of a team beaten by Algeria in the quarter finals of the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Black Stars’ appearance at the World Cup in 2006 finally brought international recognition to a team that has long been one of the greats of Africa but somehow never qualified for the big event. They did well in the last finals in Germany with an adventurous style that won them many fans, but ending up losing to Brazil in the second round with key players missing.
Manuel our local expert in Accra says;
“We have hopes Ghana will do well in the Group stage to progress. 2006 was Ghana’s first time at the World Cup and we finished the group stage second. So I am expecting the same this time around!”
Their group includes Australia, Serbia, and Germany. Kevin Prince-Boateng's decision to play for his parents' country of origin means he could face his brother, Jerome, who has been selected by Germany where they were born. Michael Essien is injured so there is little star quality but their powerful style could be troublesome to other teams in their group.
This will be the Super Eagles fourth appearance in the World Cup. Meetings with Ghana in the Africa Cup of Nations have thrown up some epic games, although the Nigerians have lost the last two in the latter stages of recent tournaments. A meeting in the quarter final would be an epic encounter and sure to split the local South African support.
Nigeria will face Argentina, Greece and South Korea in their group. They have suffered a blow with Chelsea midfielder Mikel John Obi ruled out through injury, but with a squad largely drawn from top clubs it should be a confident team. Nigeria will be looking to their gifted attackers Obafemi Martins and Yakubu for goals.
Group B: Argentina/Nigeria/South Korea/Greece
Group D: Germany/Australia/Serbia/Ghana
Group E: Netherlands/Denmark/Japan/Cameroon
Group G: Brazil/North Korea/Côte d'Ivoire/Portugal
Visit the Fifa website for full group listings and fixtures.