World Cup 2022: six questions for African teams in Qatar


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dated: 2022-11-20 09:48:43 .

FIFA World Cup

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African sides will break new ground at this year’s World Cup as all five qualifiers from the continent travel to Qatar with local coaches.

Four of those men are leading the finals for the first time, with only Senegal’s Aliou Cisse taking the helm in Russia four years ago.

All five African teams were eliminated in the group stage in 2018, so the main task will be to clear the first hurdle before they can even think about making history in Qatar by making it to the last eight.

Here, BBC Sport Africa dives into the big issues facing the top five as the first mid-season World Cup – and the first in the Middle East – kicks off.

Can either team make it to the quarterfinals?

African qualifiers will have to prove that in 2018 no side from the continent has reached the knockout stages for the first time since 1982 – when Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia, all returnees, joined Egypt and Nigeria to represent Africa.

Cameroon and Ghana return to the party this year after surviving an ill-fated 2014 World Cup with a struggle on the pitch and a very public bonus series.

After winning their first Africa Cup of Nations in February, Senegal High hopes were dramatically dashed by the late injury absence of Ballon d’Or runner-up Sadio Mane, whose penalty shootout clinched both the continental title and World Cup qualification.

Despite the coach who took over just two months ago, Morocco could make life in Group F more difficult than Belgium as its illustrious generation ages, think 2018 runners-up Croatia and Canada.

Cameroon occasionally played with pace and power in hosting this year’s Cup of Nations, but Samuel Eto’o-turned-forward-confederation president predicted that the Indomitable Lions, led by Rigobert Song and disappointing in recent friendlies, will see Morocco in the closing stages will hit the limit.

Only three African teams have reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup – out of 49 appearances – and none have come close to further progress Ghana, whose missed penalty in the last minute of extra time against Uruguay in 2010 will live forever in our memories when the two sides meet again in Group H.

The first semi-final remains the target, but Mane’s injury could realistically ensure that given his importance to the Teranga Lions, Africa’s best team since November 2018.

How will the coach of Senegal replace Cisse Mane?

Coach Aliou Cisse led Senegal to their first continental title in Cameroon in February

Senegal lost both their talisman and main source of goals when Mane, his country’s all-time top scorer with 34 goals, was ruled out of the tournament.

No African footballer has finished in the top two of the Ballon d’Or since George Weah won in 1995, which shows just how much Bayern Munich stars will be missed.

Watford striker Ismaila Sarr and Alanyaspor forward Famara Diedhiou are the second top scorers in the Teranga Lions squad with 10 international goals each, while Salernitana’s Boulaye Dia could also take the lead.

Cisse was part of Senegal’s golden generation that reached the last 16 in Japan and South Korea in 2002 and, having taken the helm seven years ago, he will use all his experience to develop a new game plan in the short term.

The West Africans face the Netherlands in their opening Group A match on Monday, followed by the hosts and Ecuador.

Who will become the African star instead of Mane?

Hakim Ziyech has scored 18 goals in 43 games for Morocco since returning from the international wilderness in September

With Mohammed Salah and Riyad Mahrez also absent after Egypt and Algeria failed to qualify, others have a chance to steal the limelight.

Ghanaian midfielder Mohammed Kudus will be sidelined if he continues his superb form in the Champions League with Ajax, and Cameroon may need Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Karl Toko Ekambi and Vincent Aboubakar, who played eight games in seven at the Cup of Nations. get talented strikers.

Hakim Ziyech hopes he can deliver after a long history of being left out of the Moroccan squad. His goal from his own half in a recent friendly was an impressive return, while the Tunisians hope midfielder Aissa Laidouni can continue to impress.

A dispute with former manager Vahid Halilhodžić led to the Chelsea winger being dropped from last year’s Nations Cup squad. The 29-year-old, who retired from international football in February, returned after the Bosnian was sacked three months ago.

Could conditions benefit the African Quintet?

This World Cup has been postponed from its traditional date in June and July to avoid Qatar’s mid-year heat, when average afternoon temperatures hover around 40 degrees Celsius and the mercury can reach as high as 50 degrees.

The climate could prove too much for European sides as November and December typically see temperatures of 27-30 degrees and humidity that feels more like 30-35 degrees, although locals are currently talking about unusually hot weather in Qatar.

However, temperatures drop in the evening and the stadiums built for the tournament are designed to maximize shade, with air conditioning reportedly bringing pitch temperatures to a more acceptable 21 degrees.

African sides have been used to a range of conditions, including intense heat, since qualifying and tournaments on the world’s second largest continent. Could this experience in Qatar be an advantage for you?

Will the locals support the North African couple?

Tunisian fans may dream of getting their hands on the World Cup – but the Carthage Eagles have never reached the knockout stages in their previous five finals

Qatar hosted the Arab Cup last December as a test event for the World Cup Tunisia lost to Algeria in the final.

The Carthage Eagles have benefited from their large Qatari fan base during their run and are expected to have a home atmosphere when they return in Group D against Denmark, Australia and defending champions France.

The North Africans need all the help they can get to reach their first knockout stage in six attempts.

“I think playing in Qatar will help us African countries and especially the Arab countries,” Tunisia captain Wahbi Khazri told BBC Sport Africa.

“We will be playing on a well-known continent, Qatar has a large Tunisian diaspora. They showed it at the Arab Cup where the stadiums were bathed in Tunisian red and if it can help us be better and achieve more, it will be.” exciting.”

The same applies to Morocco, where the local culture, such as the lifestyle and the call to prayer, will be different but familiar.

Is it time for an African coach to shine?

Otto Addo (Ghana), Rigobert Song (Cameroon), Walid Regragui (Morocco) and Jalel Kadri (Tunisia) will make their World Cup debuts as managers

For the first time since Africa had more than one team at the finals, which took place in Spain 40 years ago, all World Cup representatives will be led by local coaches.

By far the most experienced is Senegalese Cisse, who took over in 2015 while all four others were appointed this year.

The three joined immediately after relative failures at the Cup of Nations, with former Tunisian assistant Jalel Kadri promoted to the top job, Borussia Dortmund talent coach Otto Addom handed the Ghana role and Song handed Cameroon by his former team-mate Eto’o.

The long Ziyech saga ended with Walid Regragui replacing Halihodžić as Morocco coach in August and, like the others, aims to become the first African coach to lead an African team to at least the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

After matches against Portugal and South Korea, Black Stars coach Addo has the added burden of repeating the dramatic quarter-final of 2010 when they play Uruguay on December 2.

After his infamous goal-line handball deep into extra time at Soccer City in Johannesburg 12 years ago, former Liverpool and Barcelona striker Luis Suarez will be the strong man when the two teams meet again.

The incident is one of the most controversial in World Cup history, although Suarez’s joyous celebration is seen by many as a greater crime than his actual ‘save’.

If the now 35-year-old starts against the West Africans, any matchup with him in Africa’s star-studded group match should be one to watch out for.

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World Cup 2022: six questions for African teams in Qatar

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