IS QATAR 2022 THE END OF THE LONG WAIT FOR AFRICA?
After 21 editions, the world still waits for an African team to win the FIFA World cup. Several pundits, analysts, book makers and natives think the 2022 tournament in Qatar might mark the end of a long wait.
Even without star man Sadio Mane, many football fans in Africa, Uganda inclusive have faith that Senegal can still go all the way and better their 2002 exploits by winning the World cup in Qatar.
The Lions of Teranga go into this year’s world cup as the least experienced of all the African sides yet it is their first as African Champions.
Now that Mane is out, Coach ALiou Cisse will need his lions to play as a unit and may be waiting for one individual to take on Mane’s responsibility. Just like; Amarildo took the mantle in absence of Pele to lift Brazil to victory in Chile, 1962.
With European established players in Edourd Mendy, Cheikho Kouyate, Kalidou Koulibaly, Ismaila Sarr, Idrissa Gueye Gana, Abdou Diallo among others, Senegal by far carries African hopes than any other team.
In addition to the squad’s pedigree, the Lions of Teranga are the highest ranked team in Africa according to the latest FIFA rankings.
Senegal is in group A along with hosts Qatar, Netherlands and South America’s last automatic qualifier, Ecuador. They are tipped to qualify as group leaders though they will need to overcome some tough test by the Dutch against whom they will open the campaign on Monday 21st November, 2022.
Whereas majority of Africa are keeping their faith in Senegal, another big chunk is turning attention to Cameroon, a side led by two greats; Coach Rigobert Song and President of the Federation of Cameroon Football Association, Samuel Eto’o.
Despite struggles at home, this explosive new look Cameroon will look to better the team that made wonders in Italy in the 1990 World Cup. Led by the legendary Roger Milla, the indomitable Lions stunned defending champions Argentina and Colombia to quarterfinals.
The central Africans will need the best of talisman; Vicent Abubaker, Midfied maestro Adre Frank Aguissa, flyng winger Toko Ekambi, in-form Eric Chopo-Moting and the best goal tendering from Inter-Milan's Andre Onanaif, they are to make a statement in Qatar.
But they must fight and first get through a tough group G if all is to count where they battle against teams like Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland.
More so, Ghana is another African side that has ever reached the quarterfinals and the only one that almost made it to the last four had skipper Asamoah Gyan scored a last minute spotkick in 2010 in South Africa following Luiz Suarez's infamous handball.
The black stars were eliminated in spotkicks by a Diego Forlan that inspired Uruguay and left the whole of Africa cold. Now they are in Qatar with hopes they can bring it home.
Led by Ayew brothers, Ghana have a chance to revenge against Uruguay with whom they are placed in group H alongside Portugal and South Korea. They have the backing of every one back in Accra and will need to do their best to get out of this tough group.
Ghana president Nana Akufo Addo while flagging off the national squad raised the hopes of the black stars when he said that Brazilian great Pele’s prediction that the African team would win the world cup before the 2000’s had Ghana in mind.
‘’A long time ago, the greatest footballer that ever lived, the Brazilian Edson Arantes Donascimento Pele said that soon an African country is going to win the World cup, and I know that when he said that, he had in mind Ghana,’’ President Akuffo remarked.
Other African sides playing in Qatar are: Tunisia and Morocco which will also need to better their past performances this time round in order to win souls in the whole of Africa for very few are pinning hopes on them.
Could this be the turn for our continent, Africa to make wonders?
We keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best!