World Cup 2018: A Guide to All African Teams
The 2018 FIFA World Cup commences today and five African teams will be participating in the epoch-making event. Here’s a guide to the five African teams.
- Egypt – The Pharaohs qualified for the World Cup through a Mohamed Salah 94th minute, injury-time penalty against Congo in Alexandria, Egypt that was well-delivered and sent the fans and media commentators alike into a frenzy. The last time Egypt participated at a FIFA World Cup was in Italy in 1990 and overall, this is their third World Cup appearance. Players to watch out for include: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool FC, Ahmed Fathy, who in 2001 at age 17 was the youngest Egyptian player to be capped, Ahmed Elmohammady of Aston Villa, Mohamed Elneny of Arsenal and Essam El-Hadary, who is over 45 years old and has overtaken the record of Faryd Mondragon as the oldest player to ever play in the FIFA World Cup.
- Morocco – The Atlas Lions qualified for the World Cup in grand style after a twenty-year hiatus in a group that featured Ivory Coast and they didn’t lose a match neither did they concede a goal throughout the qualifiers. Their success is however connected to the leadership itinerant French-born coach, Herve Renard brings into the mix. Players to watch out for include: Medhi Benatia of Juventus who also equals as the Morocco team captain and a solid central defender, Mbark Boussoufa, a two time Belgian Golden Shoe winner, Ayoub El-Kaabi, the highest goal scorer at CHAN 2018 with nine goals, 20-year old French-born Amine Harit of Schalke 04 and Hakim Ziyech of Ajax Amsterdam who is a mercurial attacking midfielder with flair for scoring free kicks.
- Nigeria – The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be Nigeria’s sixth tournament and the best they have achieved is a Round of 16 place in 1994, 1998 and 2014 editions. Nigeria was the first African side to qualify for the World Cup. The three-time African champions will be heading to the tournament with a relatively young side and many first-timers under the tutelage of experienced German coach, Gernot Rohr. Players to watch out for include: John Obi Mikel who plies his trade in China, Wilfred Ndidi of Leicester City, Victor Moses of Chelsea, Alex Iwobi of Arsenal, Tyronne Ebuehi who just recently signed for Benfica of Portugal and the defensive deuces of William Troost-Ekong of Bursaspor and Leon Balogun who just signed for Brighton & Wolves Albion.
- Tunisia – The Carthage Eagles of Tunisia qualified for the World Cup unbeaten and have been an African football powerhouse who has lost its bite and vitality for a decade now. 2018 will be their fifth appearance at the World Cup having attended the previous editions in 1978, 1998, 2002 and 2006. The current Tunisian squad has mixes of homegrown talents drawn from Etoile du Sahel and Esperance. Players to watch out for include: Aymen Abdennour of Marseille, Wahbi Khazri of Sunderland who spent the season on loan at Rennes impressing with 9 goals in 24 matches, Mohamed Amine Ben Amor of Etoile du Sahel, Naim Sliti of Dijon and Saif-Eddine Khaoui of Marseille.
- Senegal – The Teranga Lions had a moment of epiphany at their first-ever World Cup outing in 2002. Inspired by El-Hadji Diouf, they reached the quarter-finals of that edition. Senegal qualified for the 2018 edition not without courting controversy, after Joseph Lamptey was barred for life for match manipulation. The match against South Africa had to be replayed and Senegal won it. Senegal had an unbeaten run in the qualifiers and possess a repertoire of fine defensive players with quick transitioning. Players to watch out for include: Sadio Mane of Liverpool, Keita Balde Diao of Monaco, Cheikhou Kouyate of West Ham, Idrissa Gueye of Everton, Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli.