With the World Cup now less than a week away we take a look at the six African teams that will be competing in this year’s FIFA World Cup Finals. Algeria, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and South Africa.
Looking closely at each nation pundits and fans have every reason to be confident about progress by an African team this year.
South Africa (Coach – Carlos Alberto Parreira)
There is almost a sentimental belief that the host nation should progress further than ever before and with a coach that has coached Brazil to World Cup glory in 1994, they have a manager with the backroom experience to get a result against more tricky opponents. The nation will be hoping that a team that failed to qualify for the African Nations Cup in January is much improved this time round with the eyes of the world watching.
Player to Watch: Steven Pienaar
Nigeria (Coach – Lars Largerbäck)
Super Eagle’s captain Nwankwo Kanu came out earlier this year saying “Nigeria will be one of the strongest African teams at the World Cup. “On a good day, we can beat any team, be it Brazil or Argentina” outlining the confidence within the camp. While some Nigerian’s will feel the talent of many of their promising young players have been largely unfulfilled many believe that a strong campaign with the view to uniting a nation this time round will drive the players.
Player to Watch: Peter Odemwingie
Algeria (Coach – Rabah Saadane)
Algeria take part in their first World Cup since 1986 after coming through a qualification group that included a rapidly improving Zambian side and arch rivals Egypt which they famously overcame 1-0 in a tense playoff after finishing level on points and goal difference in their group. Although outsiders they have the advantage of being a largely unknown quantity and just might fancy their chances after being drawn in a group that includes a vast range of opponents like Slovenia, England and the USA.
Player to Watch: Antar Yahia
Ivory Coast (Coach – Sven-Göran Eriksson)
The former England manager will be looking to the array of experienced talent like Yaya Toure, Emmanuel Eboue, Didier Zokora and Salomon Kalou who are considered by some as amongst the best generation of Ivorian players ever produced. Even with star man Dider Drigba injured in a friendly earlier this week, the camp are still confident as Drogba is expected to recover in time. Expectations are high even in a group that includes Portugal, Spain and North Korea.
Player to Watch: Didier Drogba
Ghana (Coach – Milovan Rajevac)
The Black Stars will be looking for a solid campaign and their domestic Footballing Association chairman has been quoted as saying, “After gaining some experience in the 2006 World Cup, Ghana are now experienced enough to win the ultimate in world football in South Africa,” And he may have a point with the likes of Michael Essien, Dominic Adiyiah, John Paintsil and Sulley Muntari all playing at the highest level in Europe. Abedi Pele famously predicted the Ghana Under 20’s would win the Under 20 World Cup and he was right. A similar prediction by Pele recently may be a good omen…
Player to Watch: Kevin-Prince Boateng
Cameroon (Coach – Paul Le Guen)
After missing out on the 2006 World Cup a slow start to their qualifying campaign this time round saw new manager Luen appointed to guide the Les Lions Indomptables to this year’s finals and he duly delivered. Carlos Kameni has subsequently come out in support stating “I always like to think big, and seeing that we are playing in Africa, this could be our tournament,” But some fans will be looking for a dramatic improvement on what was considered a less than emphatic African Nations Cup run earlier this year.
Player to Watch: Samuel Eto’o
All the teams and all the players are confident, which African teams and players will be the stars of this year’s World Cup?
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