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Africa hopes now rest on Nigeria and Algeria

Africa hopes now rest on Nigeria and Algeria

Africa’s representation in the ongoing World Cup in Brazil has been reduced to two teams following the exit of Ghana, Ivory Coast and Cameroon in the group stage.  (Photo: Islam Slimani celebrating his equaliser that took Algeria to the second round)

The continent now relies on Nigeria and Algeria to keep its hopes alive in the prestigious tournament as the two countries have progressed to the second round stage.

It’s the first time Algeria are in the second round stage and also the first time in the history of the World Cup two countries from Africa have progressed beyond the group stage at a time.

In the past only one team at a time had crossed the group stage since 1986 World Cup in Mexico when Morocco became the first African side to play in the second round stage after holding both England and Poland to goalless draws and a 3-1 win over Portugal. The Atlas Lions were narrowly defeated 1-0 by West Germany in the second round.

Nigeria had been in the second round twice before in their first tournament in USA in 1994 and four years later in France

Algeria qualified after they came from behind to draw 1-1 with Russia in Curitiba thanks to striker Islam Slimani’s header from a set piece fifteen minutes after the break to register his second goal of the tournament.

The result means Algeria finished as runners up in group H and like their North African neighbours Morocco in 1986 will now face Germany in the second round in Porto Alegre on Monday at 20:00GMT.

Nigeria will face France in Brasilia also on Monday at 16:00 GMT as they too ended as runners up in group F even though they lost their last group match to Argentina 3-2.

Despite two Confederations of African football (CAF) teams remain in the competition the overall performance of the African teams have been questionable. Out of a total of 15 group matches played, African teams recorded only three victories against Asians sides, three draws and nine defeats

Algeria, Nigeria and Ivory Coast registered victories over South Korea, Iran and Japan respectively. Cameroon left the tournament without securing a point, they lost all three of their group matches conceding nine goals and managed to score only one.

Ghana for the first time exited the tournament in the group stage after they failed to get a win. They were beaten by USA and Portugal and got a draw with Germany[F1] .

Ivory Coast needed a draw against Greece to qualify for the second round stage for the first time but they conceded a last minute penalty to lose 2-1 after they had defeated Japan in their opening game and lost their second match to Colombia 2-1.

The farthest African teams have gone in the World Cup is the quarter-final stage. Nigeria and Algeria are now faced with the tough task of achieving that feat attained by Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010.

The performances of Africa teams in the group stage were however better than that of the Asian teams whose four representatives Japan, South Korea, Iran and Australia were knocked out in the group stage after they failed to secure a single victory.

By Mohamed Fajah Barrie in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Credit: Sports Writers Association of Sierra Leone (SWASAL) & www.sierraleonefootball.com
Sponsors: Mercury International Limited & www.sierraleonefootball.com

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