Teamwork makes the dream work

Is Africa heading in the direction of World Cup humiliation?

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This worldwide break represented a possibility for Africa’s FIFA World Cup-bound quintet to finalise their preparations for the match in Qatar and lay down a blueprint for development to the knockout levels.

However Africa’s 5 qualifiers endured a gruelling week, successful 4 of their 10 mixed matches — just one towards an opponent ranked inside FIFA’s high 80 — and every was left with clear points that require consideration earlier than the worldwide showpiece.

Certainly, for Ghana, Senegal and Cameroon, the optimism that greeted their group-stage draw earlier within the 12 months has been changed by hard-nosed realism, and the prospect of one other depressing efficiency for Africa’s sides on the match can’t be ignored.

Regardless of some wonderful efforts by African groups previously, the continent’s current document on the match has been poor.

Solely at Brazil 2014 did multiple facet characteristic in knockout levels, and Russia 2018 was the continent’s worst mixed efficiency but — as not one of the 5 qualifiers progressed out of the teams.

African groups have gained solely 10 of their previous 47 matches mixed on the match correct, and the spectre of one other poor exhibiting — even a repeat of 2018’s first-round eliminations — looms giant.

We current a standing report for every of Africa’s 5 Qatar-bound groups, together with the important thing areas they should enhance.

High of the category after the worldwide break, Morocco have been considered one of solely two groups to have gone unbeaten, and the one facet of the 5 to have improved on their earlier worldwide performances this 12 months.

Changing Vahid Halilhodzic with Walid Regragui — untested at this stage however achieved in his homeland — stays a chance, however the early proof suggests the brand new man has overseen a serious increase in morale, and the 2-0 victory over Chile in Barcelona was the excellent efficiency by any African qualifier this week.

There is no scarcity of top-end expertise on this squad — this has by no means been doubtful — however Halilhodzic’s old-school method did not get the most effective out of Morocco’s creatives, with Amine Harit ostracised and Hakim Ziyech opting to retire from worldwide soccer in February.

Ziyech’s return was all the things an impatient Morocco can have been searching for, as he struck up a sound interaction with Sofiane Boufal and the duo created a plethora of goalscoring probabilities.

The returning Noussair Mazraoui slipped in at left-back, complementing Achraf Hakimi on the opposite flank and fixing one other downside that Vahid had created, and Morocco look probably the most harmful and cohesive of Africa’s groups — – as they did earlier than Russia 2018.

Nevertheless, there’s nonetheless room for enchancment.

Striker Youssef En-Nesyri nonetheless seems a shadow of his former self, bringing his barren run in entrance of aim in LaLiga to the worldwide sport, and enchancment is required if he is to guide the road in Qatar.

Equally, 32-year-old Romain Saiss‘s creaking efficiency — he was caught out of place on a number of events — will generate some consternation contemplating fellow centre-back Nayef Aguerd is already a doubt for the match.

Enhance each ends of the crew, and Morocco can realistically hope to sneak out of a balanced Group F.

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Senegal have been the opposite African crew to go unbeaten this window, following up a routine victory towards Bolivia with a respectful 1-1 draw with Iran.

It was hardly a world break to set the pulses racing, however it may have been a lot worse contemplating Edouard Mendy‘s injury-enforced absence and the lack of a number of different key gamers from the Africa Cup of Nations-winning squad attributable to harm, lack of sport time or being with no membership.

Head coach Aliou Cisse complained on the conclusion of the window about his facet’s incapability to place away probabilities, and, certainly, this can be a key space that must be improved contemplating Senegal’s workmanlike midfield cannot be relied upon to create an extra of probabilities towards harder groups on the World Cup.

“It is effectivity we have to work on extra,” Cisse mentioned after the draw with Iran. “We see the ratio of probabilities we created, and we will say that we should always have scored a second aim. This can be a crux of our work, and when you’ve got probabilities in soccer, you might want to bury them.”

Sadio Mane scored a penalty towards Bolivia, ending his six-game run with no aim, however the likes of Ismaila Sarr can not afford to be equally profligate towards extra ominous foes.

Senegal have misplaced only one full worldwide match previously two years — the World Cup qualifying playoff first leg towards Egypt — they usually stay properly positioned to advance from Group A.



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This has been a topsy-turvy 12 months for Ghana, and the rollercoaster reveals no signal of settling as we method the World Cup.

A disastrous Africa Cup of Nations marketing campaign preceded the managed, composed playoff victory over Nigeria, however the Black Stars have struggled to kick-on regardless of the addition of a number of dual-nationality gamers who’ve boosted the standard of the beginning XI.

Thomas Partey‘s withdrawal from the crew minutes earlier than the kick-off towards Brazil was a reminder of his fragility, and his absence likely influenced the West African’s disastrous first half during which they have been 3-0 down inside 40 minutes.

His return to London meant {that a} helpful alternative to configure this new-look crew round Partey has been misplaced, though it may show to be helpful train if the Arsenal man’s harm issues flare up forward of the World Cup.

Ghana improved within the second half towards Brazil, with Mohammed Salisu bolstering the defence, and Inaki Williams and Tariq Lamptey every making their debut, earlier than occurring to beat lowly Nicaragua.

Otto Addo acknowledged after the Brazil sport that he’d made errors in the way in which he’d set the crew up, maybe hinting that he would undertake a again three for the World Cup, and it stays to be seen whether or not Ghana have sufficient time to combine their new faces.

The one key constructive from the Nicaragua sport was the burgeoning relationship between in-form Mohammed Kudus and Williams, however can they do it towards extra demanding opposition?

After this week, Ghana seem like lengthy photographs to squeeze their well past Portugal, Uruguay and South Korea in Qatar.



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This was a troublesome worldwide break for Tunisia, for whom any positives that might be taken from the slim victory over Comoros have been overshadowed by their rout by the hands of Brazil.

The vibrancy of the Selecao’s efficiency and the appalling racist abuse geared toward Richarlison could not totally detract from a woeful Tunisia show because the North Africans conceded 4 objectives in 40 minutes and in the end misplaced 5-1.

It is an undesirable scoreline on the eve of a serious match.

Tunisia, like Ghana, shall be grateful that Brazil eased off after the break, though a Forty second-minute pink card for Dylan Bronn definitely left the second half feeling like a coaching match that was little use to both facet.

At the least seven of the starters towards the South People would have been anticipated to begin their World Cup opener, though that XI displayed worryingly little of the ‘grinta‘ that has historically given Tunisia hope they’ll hassle stronger sides.

Ali Maaloul, Bilel Ifa and Bechir Ben Mentioned will possible come again into the defence for the World Cup opener towards Denmark, whereas Wahbi Khazri, Naim Sliti and Taha Khenissi ought to increase the assault, however there is a sense that man-for-man Tunisia are wanting the expertise required to flee the group.

They definitely want to take care of composure and focus higher towards France than they managed towards Brazil on Tuesday.

Cameroon, like Ghana, have struggled to construct on their triumphant World Cup playoff success, and they’re nonetheless to persuade that they are often greater than the sum of their elements.

This was a very testing week for the Indomitable Lions, who absolutely would have been relieved to show the eye again to occasions on the pitch following FECAFOOT’s controversial break from Le Coq Sportif that has dominated Cameroon’s backpages because the begin of July.

Nevertheless, after their newest two fixtures — each defeats — they could now be hoping for some juicy off-field controversy to detract from this facet’s limitations!

FA President Samuel Eto’o might have declared after the defeat by World No. 77 Uzbekistan that Cameroon have been nonetheless planning to achieve the World Cup ultimate, however there was little proof to recommend they’ll take factors from Switzerland, Serbia or Brazil.

Nicolas Nkoulou ‘s worldwide return was riddled with errors, fullbacks Nouhou Tolo and Collins Fai struggled to impose themselves, Bryan Mbeumo appeared wanting self-belief, and Vincent Aboubakar was successfully neutralised.

Olivier Ntcham provided some encouragement on debut, and Mbeumo improved within the defeat by South Korea, though coach Rigobert Track shall be determined to welcome Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa again into the midfield.

The likes of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Karl Toko Ekambi — each absent this window — may also add depth, expertise and a aim menace, however Eto’o’s purpose for Cameroon to stay within the match till Dec. 18 is laughable.

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