The much-awaited 2022 FIFA World Cup is 17 days and a few hours away from kick-off where hosts Qatar take on Ecuador in the opening match at the Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday, November 20.
As the world anticipates the crowning of a football king in the Arab nation, African nations will be hoping to leave a mark on a stage where they have found it rough for the past 22 editions.
African teams are yet to translate their vast footballing talents, dotting the best leagues across the globe, into World Cup glory despite flashes of brilliance at past FIFA senior men’s events.
The most celebrated sport Mundial will again be on display from November 20in the Persian Gulf of Qatar and five African countries will jostle for honours in the 32-team month-long tournament.
No African team has made it past the quarter-final stage at previous competitions but the teams participating this fall would be hoping to make history on Arabian soil.
In looking up to a remarkable showing at Qatar 2022, it is only Ghana that have braced the odds to acquit themselves impressively at past FIFA men’s World Cup.
Ironically, this feat happened when Africa hosted the prestigious football tournament.
South Africa hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup for the first time in Africa, but the Black Stars of Ghana would get to the tournament’s quarterfinals.
Ghana started the campaign on a winning note against Serbia, courtesy of an Asamoah Gyan 84th-minute penalty. The second game was a draw against Australia, with Asamoah Gyan scoring another penalty.
Ghana tasted defeat in the final group game against Germany before gaining victory over the USA in the first knockout round, with Asamoah Gyan again snatching the winner in a 2-1 win.
In the quarterfinals, The Black Stars’ progress was thwarted by Luiz Suarez’s 120th-minute goal-line handball clearance, an action that saw the player sent off, but Gyan failed to convert the resulting penalty. Gyan scored their first penalty kick in the shootout, but Uruguay triumphed 4-2.
With African coaches leading all five African teams into the Qatar World Cup for the first time, the teams would be hoping to go even further by at least making it into the semifinals.
Senegal sits as the best team in Africa. It is the continent’s biggest hope for a deep run after winning the AFCON title earlier in the year and defeating Egypt over two legs during the qualifiers.
Morocco is closely behind, following decent performances with a closely-knit squad that has been together for a while now.
Ghana defeated Nigeria in the qualification round and would still be licking their wounds from over a decade ago. At the same time, Tunisia, who may not be among the favorites, would fancy their fate in Group D.
AFCON’s most successful team, Cameroon, are in Group G and their indomitable spirit could spur them to shock the world.
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