Brazil 2014: Africa set to rule the world

Ghana Black Stars celebrate goal

Ghana Black Stars celebrate goal

On June 12, 2014, the 20 th edition of the prestigious FIFA World Cup will kick off in Brazil amid pomp and pageantry. Thirty-two(32) nations will compete for the ultimate prize. The competition has been in existence since 1930 with Uruguay winning the maiden edition. The World Cup is among the world’s most widely viewed sporting events; an estimated 715.1 million people watched the final match of the 2006 FIFA World Cup held in Germany. And for four weeks, the watching world will follow with keen interest the victories and defeats, joys and despair of the thirty-two (32) finalists, who have been divided into eight (8) groups.

From 1930 till date, thirteen (13) African countries have represented the continent at the Copa Mundial , with Egypt being the first African country to participate in the World Cup in 1934. Tunisia became the first African country to win a game at the World Cup by beating Mexico 3-1 in 1978 in Argentina. Morocco became the first African country to progress beyond the first round in 1982 in Spain. Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana are the only African countries to have reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 1990, 2002 and 2010 respectively. This year, the five African countries to participate in the world cup are Ghana, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Algeria.

This Time for Africa!!!!! thus attempts to throw the searchlight on the five African participating teams and give a straight-from-the-shoulder analysis of their chances in the greatest soccer fiesta. ALGERIA

Coach:  Vahid Halilhodžić
Joined FIFA: 1963
Nickname: The Greens/The Fennec Foxes

Previous World cup Appearances: 1982, 1986, 2010

Algeria will be making a fourth appearance at the World Cup finals after making it to the 1982, 1986 and 2010 tournaments. Pitted against South Korea, Belgium and Russia, the North African side will attempt to improve upon their previous abysmal performance four years ago, where they lost twice and drew one. Known as the Greens or the Fennec Foxes, Algeria won five of their six group matches to easily top a group that had Mali, Rwanda and Benin. Having made it into the final play-off round, they accounted for Burkina Faso, who were losing finalists in the 2013 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) on away goals rule after a pulsating 3-3 aggregate after the 2 legs.

Key Player: Sofiane Feghouli
The Valencia player, who primarily plays as a right winger and as an attacking midfielder, is more noted for creating goals than scoring them, as he was the catalyst for Algeria’s qualification to the World Cup. Algeria could cause an upset in the group if the former French youth player’s effort is complimented by skipper Madjid Bougherra, Mehdi Lacen and Islam Slimani.

Yaya Toure – Cote d’Ivoire
Coach: Sabri Lamouchi
Joined FIFA: 1961
Nickname: The Elephants (Les Éléphants)

Previous World Cup Appearances: 2006, 2010

Having drawn against Morocco, Tanzania and Gambia, the Elephants (Les Éléphants) breezed through their opening group with four wins from their six matches and drew two before eliminating Senegal to make it to their third consecutive World Cup finals. Cote d’Ivoire, who can boast of some of the greatest individual talents in Africa, is yet to go beyond the group stage of the World Cup finals. This could perhaps be linked to how unlucky they have been with past FIFA World Cup draws. In 2006, they were paired against Argentina, Netherlands, and Serbia and Montenegro, where they finished third in the group, just as they did in South Africa four years later, when they were drawn alongside Brazil, Portugal and Korea DPR. Finding themselves in a seemingly easy group, the Elephants are expected to maneuver their way through.

Key Player: Yaya Toure
Yaya Toure’s driving force from midfield has played a major role in Cote d’Ivoire’s success over the years. The four-time winner of the African Footballer of the Year award is renowned for combining great vision, passing ability and physical power with technique. The Manchester City player is currently one of the best box-to-box midfielders in the world. His silky midfield skills are complimented by a fierce shot and a wicked ability with set-pieces.

Nigeria celebrates qualification for Brazil 2014
Coach: Stephen Keshi
Joined FIFA: 1960
Nickname: Super Eagles
Previous World Cup Appearances: 1994,1998,2002,2010

After impressing in their first 2 World Cup appearances in 1994 and 1998, the reigning African Champions have struggled since, going out at the group stage two times while taking just two points from their last eight matches in the finals, and surprising missing out on the party at Germany 2006. Drawn in a group that had Malawi, Kenya and Namibia, the Super Eagles were always favorites to reach the final play-off round of qualifying, where they lost none of the matches played. They also had luck in the play-off draw, when they were paired against the lowest ranked team in Ethiopia, whom they humbled to make it to the World Cup.

Key Player: Vincent Enyeama
The Lille net-minder and skipper of the Super Eagles was influential in Nigeria’s AFCON title triumph. Arguably, one of the best shot-stoppers on the continent, the Kaduna-born goal custodian kept eleven consecutive clean sheets in the Ligue 1 matches before finally conceding a goal on December 8, 2013 after playing 1,062 minutes of Ligue 1 football. Nigeria stands a chance of advancing from the group stage should agile Enyeama find his rhythm.

Asamoah Gyan – Ghana Black Stars
Coach: James Kwesi Appiah
Joined FIFA:1958
Nickname: Black Stars
Previous World Cup Appearances: 2006, 2010

Ghana survived one of the continent’s toughest qualifying groups by winning five of their six matches with their only defeat to 2012 AFCON champions, Zambia. The Black Stars were done no favors by the draw, which set them up against seven-time African champion Egypt.  However, a resounding 7-3 aggregate win ensured that, Ghana qualified for their third consecutive World Cup finals. Ghana is a nation blessed with natural football talents. Happy memories of the way the Black Stars performed in their previous two World Cup finals gives much hope to Ghanaians that albeit being in a group that has Germany, Portugal and the USA, the Black Stars could still progress into the knockout phase.

Key Player: Kwadwo Asamoah
The mercurial left-footed midfield maestro has been in fantastic form for Italian Serie A club Juventus. He is comfortable in the center of the midfield as he is on the left side of defense and attack. He can score a bit too. He is part of Kwesi Appiah’s exciting engine room, which is has an impressive work rate and attacking intent. Ghana will need him to be on top of his game if they are to go far in the competition.

Cameroon national football team-Indomitable Lions
Coach: Volker Finke
Joined FIFA: 1962
Nickname: Indomitable Lions (Les Lions Indomptables)

Previous World Cup Appearances: 1982, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010

The watching world expects nothing short of a spectacular performance from Cameroon. It will be an African record seventh appearance at the World Cup for the Indomitable Lions (Les Lions Indomptables). Perhaps, no team has done more to shake up perceptions of African football. Their charismatic displays at Italia ’90 captivated a world audience and saw them take England to extra time in the quarter-finals before bowing out to a standing ovation from the crowd in Naples. Powered by evergreen striker Roger Milla, that breakthrough performance remains their finest showing, group stage exits having followed in 1994, 2002 and 2010. Cameroon topped their group with 13 points before beating Tunisia in the final play-off to book their ticket to Brazil by a 4-2 aggregate.

Key Player: Samuel Eto’o Fils
The former African best footballer, who is about entering the twilight of his career, remains one of the greatest players ever to grace the continent’s adored game. The Chelsea striker may not be as skillful and strong as he was years ago, but when we talk of instinct and ability to find the back of the net, he is one of the best in the game.

This is Africa! Watch as we sell our exciting and scintillating football, humble the giants of world football, and trounce the minors as we seek to win the coveted world cup trophy that has eluded the continent since its invention. With the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon roaring, the Fennec Foxes of Algeria deceiving its prey, the Super Eagles of Nigeria hunting, the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire destroying the enemy, and the Black Stars of Ghana shining, there can only be one winner, AFRICA! THIS IS OUR TIME!

Relive memories of South Africa 2010 with Shakira’s Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) (The Official 2010 FIFA World Cup™ Song):

Watch We Are One (Ole Ola) [The Official Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup Song] (Olodum Mix) by Pitbull, Jennifer Lopez and Claudia Leitte: 

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