World cup 2018: African teams on a self-destruct mode in Russia
Egypt in a win or burst affair against RussiaSo far, four African teams have played at the FIFA 2018 World Cup and the four have lost, albeit in avoidable fashion. Egypt started off brightly, holding their forte against Uruguay before Jose Gimenez rose highest to head in from a corner kick at the tail end of the game.
Egypt didn’t offer much going forward but they were disciplined in defence to keep Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani quiet for much of the game. The absence of talismanic forward, Mohammed Salah didn’t do much favours to the Pharaohs who didn’t have lots of firepower up front.
Up next for them is Russia, the hosts pumped five past hapless Saudi Arabia on day one and would bank on the home support to intimidate the North African nation when they square up tonight. Fit-again Mo Salah should offer Egypt the much-needed boost and the fear of crashing out having lost the opener would also propel them to deliver, but the pressure is certainly on the African side.
Morocco in troubleThe form of Spain and Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal calls for concern for Morocco, having lost to Iran in their opening game in group C where they started off brilliantly but failed to convert chances before they were hurt by their own man who diverted a late free-kick past his own goalkeeper, yet another set piece, fast becoming Africa’s biggest undoing at the ongoing World Cup in Russia.
Morocco now have to do it the hard way, picking points from Spain and Portugal on paper looks impossible but one must be reminded that this is football where anything can happen.
Things have gone wrong for the Atlas Lions already, their failure to break down the compact and disciplined Iranians means they have to beat both European superpowers to stand a chance of qualifying, four points might not be enough except they beat one of the big duos by wide margin and draw the other while hoping results elsewhere favour them... Permutations!
Nigeria on a fashion dietWhile the bespoke fashion statement of the Super Eagles of Nigeria is laudable, already adopted by many and still counting, the real focus has to return to football which was the original context, the showing against Croatia was filled with too many avoidable errors and must now do it the hard way too.
The Iceland we saw against Argentina didn’t come to the world cup to make up the numbers, these disciplined boys will drain you till you make mistakes and give something away, and Argentina are not an easy opponents any day, in fact they have played Nigeria four times at the world cup and beaten Nigeria every of the four times although all have been by one goal margin.
Gernot Rhor may look beyond the lone striker idea, or switch to three at the back, with the dynamism of the Icelandic nation, there won’t be margins for errors and all the pressure absolutely lie with the Super Eagles who must now win against Iceland or pack their beautiful attires and head back to Nigeria.
One error too many for TunisiaMohammed Ben Amor has lots of apologies to issue to the whole of Africa, not just Tunisia, the midfielder had enough time to clear the ball upfield as time winds down in Volgograd but he opted to dilly dally and conceded a needless corner which resulted in the Harry Kane winner at the death.
Tunisia looked to have given Africa their first point of the tournament before Ben Amor’s moment of puerile unprofessionalism, this loss now means the Carthage Eagles also have it all to do against Panama and Belgium and four points may just not be enough.
The North Africans lined up effectively against the three lions, scoring not long after conceding the opener which forced off Hassen their first choice goalkeeper, the substitute held his own before the late header that broke the hearts of the entire continent.
All the goals conceded by all African teams have been from dead ball situations or off it, there must be a change in attitudes towards set pieces.
Senegal is the final hope in the first round, they square up against Poland, while we know that one African team always perform well and make it to the next round, it looks bleak this time with schoolboy errors everywhere, come on Senegal all hopes are on you.