Ghana Black Stars
Ghana Black Stars
Ghana Black Stars
Ghana Black Stars

On June 12, 2014, the 20th?edition of the prestigious FIFA World Cup will kick off in Brazil amid pomp and pageantry. Thirty-two 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 finalists who have been divided into eight groups.

From 1930 to date, thirteen African countries have represented the continent at the 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 get to 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.

GhanaFans.com?thus attempts to throw the searchlight on the five African participating teams and give a straight-to-the shoulder analysis of their chances in the greatest soccer fiesta.

ALGERIA

The Greens/The Fennec Foxes
The Greens/The Fennec Foxes

Coach: ?Vahid Halilhodzic

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 tournament. Pitted against Korea Republic, 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. Once, in the final play-off round, they accounted for Burkina Faso, who were losing finalists in the 2013 AFCON on away goals rule after a pulsating 3-3 aggregate after the 2 legs.

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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. Being 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 Majid Bougherra, Mehdi Lacen and Islam Slimani.

COTE d?IVOIRE

Yaya Toure ? Cote d?Ivoire
Yaya Toure ? Cote d?Ivoire

Coach: Sabri Lamouchi

Joined FIFA:1961

Nickname: The Elephants

Previous World Cup Appearances: 2006, 2010

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Having drawn against Morocco, Tanzania and Gambia, the ?Elephants? 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 had with the draw. 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 drawn alongside Brazil, Portugal and Korea DPR. Finding themselves in a seemingly easy group, the ?Elephants? are expected to manouvre 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

Nigeria qualifies for Brazil
Nigeria qualifies for Brazil

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 three times while taking just two points from their last eight matches in the finals. Drawn in a group that had Malawi, Kenya and Namibia, the ?Super Eagles? were always favourites to reach the final play-off round of qualifying where they lost none of the matches played. They also had the luck of the draw when they drew 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 8 December 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.

GHANA

Asamoah Gyan ? Ghana Black Stars
Asamoah Gyan ? Ghana Black Stars

Coach: Kwesi Appiah

Joined FIFA:1958

Nickname: Black Stars

Previous World Cup Appearances: 2006, 2010

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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 favours by the draw, which set them up against seven-time African Champions 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 two World Cup finals gives much hope to Ghanaians that, even in a group that has Germany, Portugal and the USA, the Black Stars could still progress beyond the group stage.

Key Player: Kwadwo Asamoah

The mercurial left-footer has been in fantastic form for Serie A club Juventus. He is comfortable in the centre of the midfield as he is on the left side of defence and attack. He can score a bit too. He is part of Kwesi Appiah?s exciting engine room, which is full of 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

Cameroon national football team-Indomitable Lions
Cameroon national football team-Indomitable Lions

Coach: Volker Finke

Joined FIFA: 1962

Nickname: Indomitable Lions

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

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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. 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 accounting for Tunisia in the final play-off to book their ticket to Brazil.

Key Player: Samuel Eto?o

The former African best footballer, who is about entering his twilight of his career, remains one of the greatest players ever to grace the continent?s adored game. The Chelsea striker may not as skillful and stronger 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 in 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 foxes of Algeria deceiving its prey, the eagles of Nigeria hunting and the elephants of Cote d?ivoire destroying the enemy, the black stars of Ghana shining, there can only be one winner,AFRICA!

Source: GhanaFans.com

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