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2014 World Cup: Africa’s worst outing?

2014 World Cup: Africa’s worst outing?

The 2014 FIFA World Cup holding in Brazil started turning a bleak and sad moment for African countries at the commencement of the second round of the tournament on Wednesday June 18, 2014 when Cameroon were humiliated 0-4 by Croatia in the their second game signaling the end of the road for them.

The Cameroon’s sad encounter was only the harbinger of more to happen to the African countries as Cote d’Ivoire that seemed to be the hope of Africa having won their first game 2-1 against Japan, were humbled by Columbia in same style, 1-2.

However, at the time of putting this piece together, other African countries as Ghana, Algeria and Nigeria were gearing up to take on their opponents, while optimists and pessimists in their Nigerian characteristics were still hoping and praying, doubting and criticising African chances of progressing to the next round.

In x-raying the Mundial so far within just two weeks it started according to lmc.com, it was certain African countries did not exactly have their dream start to the world’s biggest football fiesta where Ivory Coast posted the only win and Nigeria turned out a draw that don’t seem to have matched expectations.

The other African representatives, Cameroon, lost 1-0 to Mexico, Ghana went down 2-1 to the United States of America while Algeria gave up a first half lead to capitulate 2-1 late in the second half to Belgium.

It certainly won’t be easy going for Ghana and Algeria given the tougher fixtures ahead and there are looming dangers of possible early elimination for them.

For Nigeria, it has turned to be a situation of everything is possible and on a lighter side, the fans are back to familiar situation of permutation of all possibilities.

For African representatives, there has been no time two teams go through at the same time to the next round after the group stage since 1990 when Cameroon stunned the world to storm to the quarter finals.

Nigeria followed in 1994 but never made it beyond the second round and repeated the feat in France 1998 where the Super Eagles were shot down by Denmark against popular expectations.

The baton was handed to Senegal in 2002 at the World Cup co-hosted by South Korea and Japan.

In the last two editions of the World Cup, Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010, Ghana made it first beyond the first round and was almost scaling through to the semi finals in South Africa against Uruguay when a freak Louis Suarez handling of a goal-bound ball turned the tide against Ghana.

As it stands presently before the second group games, Ivory Coast and to a lesser possibility, Nigeria look like they may break the jinx, but it is the Ivorians that hold the bragging rights so far.

The only African team to win their first group match, Ivory Coast may progress to the next round thanks to the famous 2-1 win against Japan with goals from Gervinho and Wilfred Bony Tagged the golden generation of Ivorian football, the African version of Orange Boys.

Though, their defeat to Colombia has now left everyone guessing again as they must now see off Greece to claim Africa’s traditional one slot to the next round.

Invariably, very few expected the nil all draw secured by Iran against Nigeria in their Group F opening game, but that has been the reality Nigerians are still ruing and finding difficult to come to terms with.

Hence, with Bosnia’s gallantry against Argentina, not a few fancy the next fixture as a likely three point in the kitty.

But filters from the Nigerian camp before yesterday’s game doesn’t suggest a fazed squad and especially for a country known to hold out against odds.

Bulgaria in 1994, Spain in 1998 are some of the memories that bolster generations of the Super Eagles to soar when it seems they have been clipped.

Against Messi’s Argentina, Mikel and the rest are coming up against familiar foes and won’t want to stumble twice on the trot to same foes.

Not a very savoury outlook though.

Ghana blew the chance of picking a point in their first Group G fixture against the USA when they couldn’t hold out with Dede Ayew’s 82nd minute equaliser, which cancelled out Seattle’s Clint Dempsey 32nd seconds opener.

With just four minutes to regulation time, John Brooks broke through with a header to break the Black Stars whose performance was good enough for at least a draw.

The Black Stars now have another tough final matches against a very furious Portugal that are seeking ‘blood’ after the 4-0 humiliation in the hands of the Germans.

Playing in Group H, Algeria was the last African side to come on stage and they cloned some earlier results of the Brazil 2014 that has seen teams go down with late goals after taking the lead.

Against Belgium, Valencia’s Sofiane Feghouli scored from the spot on 25th minute, but two late goals from two substitutes.

First was Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini header on the 70th minute, which was followed by Napoli’s Dries Mertens winner 10 minutes to full time.

The Desert Foxes will play South Korea and Russia in their last two group matches.

In all of these, while keep vigil to between Saturday June 21 and Sunday June 22 wee hours for Nigeria Bosnia clash it is hoped if not Cameroun, Ghana and Algeria, Nigeria or Cote d’Ivoire should salvage the image of Africa football with their remaining matches.

Otherwise, Shakira’s 2010 World Cup sung, ‘this time for Africa’ may turn, ‘this time not for Africa.’

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