8 years ago with the World Cup finals held in Asia for the first time, then minnows South Korea defied all expectations and became the first Asian team to reach the semi-finals of one of the greatest sporting events in the world. 2010 sees the World Cup held in the Africa for the first time. Let’s take a look at the African teams taking part. Which of these 6 teams will go the furthest?
The South African football team will be one of the best supported teams in the tournament by nature of them hosting the current edition of this 4 yearly tournament. With star striker Benni McCarthy left out of the team due to poor form and fitness, the Bafana Bafana will rely heavily on captain Aaron Mokoena and skillful midfielder Steven Pienaar, who just had a fantastic season with Everton.
While Algeria doesn’t boast any truly world class stars, they are no pushovers with players such as Nadir Belhadj of Portsmouth, Karim Ziani of Wolfsburg and Madjid Bougherra of Rangers some of their key players.
Cameroon has been one of the most exciting teams in the previous World Cups and this time they have among their ranks one of the best strikers in the world, Samuel Eto’o. Other players to look out for are midfielder Jean Makoun and Alexandre Song of Arsenal.
Ivory Coast not only has probably the best squad of all African teams, they are also managed by former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson. World class players like Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Eboue, Didier Zokora, Yaya Toure, Salomon Kalou and of course, Dider Drogba. However, 2 major factors stand in Ivory Coast’s way. Drogba’s recent arm injury, and the fact that they have been drawn in the Group of Death which includes favorites Brazil and Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal. Will they be able to finish in the top 2 in this group?
With Ghana’s most outstanding player Michael Essien out through injury, their hopes of glory lie with midfielder Sulley Muntari.
Nigeria are one of the most successful African teams and their squad this time contains players such as Joseph Yobo and Yakubu Aiyegbeni of Everton, Taye Taiwo of Marseille, veteran striker Nwankwo Kanu, Dickson Etuhu of Fulham and Obafemi Martins of Wolfsburg.
Which of these teams will be the most successful? On paper, Ivory Coast have the best lineup, but they will essentially be competing with Portugal for 2nd place in the group. With Drogba out, can they meet Ronaldo’s team?
My money will thus be on Nigeria and Cameroon, who should have no problems qualifying from their groups.