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Date: 14 December 2018

  African - Soccer

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Assessing African representatives' readiness for the World Cup

[Posted 03 Jun 2010]
Assessing African representatives" readiness for the World Cup


By Brighton Mupangavanhu

The point that the 2010 World Cup to be hosted by South Africa is very special for Africa and its representatives has been overstated by now. It is a historical world cup for the people of Africa, the first on African soil. African teams are therefore under pressure to deliver special performances come 11 June and onwards. It is just hoped that the pressure wil not work against the African teams. Beezsports.com briefly assesses the preparedness of each of the six African teams, 8 days before the global soccer showpiece roars to life at the Soccer City Stadium.

1. South Africa: Host nation.

Since the return of the Brazilian coach, Bafana Bafana have not lost a single international match either at home or away in 11 games. The team has been criticised for having become draw specialists, with their three notable wins coming against Zimbabwe on 27 March in a 3-0 triumph over their less prepared northern neighbours at the Moses Mabida Stadium. Bafana then went on to produce a sensational 2-1 victory over Colombia on 27 May on the maginficent turf of the refurbished Soccer City stadium before a near capacity crowd of 75 000 vuvuzela-blowing fans. On Monday 31 May, Bafana had a walk in the park against another South American team Guatemala whom they walloped 5-0.

What counts in their favour?
Bafana Bafana have been in three well-prepared training camps since beginning of the year. The fitness levels of the home-based players such as Thanduyise Kubhoni, Teko Modise, Katlego Mphela, Surprise Moriri, Bongani Khumalo, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Itumeleng Khune and other are up to scratch. Secondly, Parreira has moulded the team into a unit rather than individual players. The players are now used to Parreira's kind of system of play. This is evidenced by the manner they have perfected the art of scoring goals from setpieces. In about 4 world cup warm-up matches played thus far, about 4 goals were scored from setpieces. There is also a very healthy competition for the midfield positions.

Challenges: The central defence needs to develop better understanding. Captain Aaron Mokoena and Bongani Khumalo need to form a formidable combination in th heart of defence. Parreira hasn't really found a solution to the striking combination. The Brazilian is sure about main striker role which is almost decided. Mphela is trusted to do the job. His striking partner can be either Moriri or Benard Parker.

Verdict on preparedness: Bafana have developed a winning mentality and a sense of invincibility on home soil is beginning to creep into the minds of the players. Not a bad attitude at all. Expect Bafana to produce some surprises come the 11th June.

2. Algeria

The Desert foxes were the surprise package in qualaifying for the World Cup ahead of favorites and defending African Champions Egypt. But Algeria have not demonstrated the kind of form which saw them beat Egypt to the final qualifying spot for the African region. Algeria had such a poor Nations Cup finals performance in Angola in January, losing terribly to Malawi in thir first match. Their preparations have been poor thus far. No meaningful camp has been organised for the players. To compound matters, the team has suffered from injuries to key players such as Lazio midfielder Mourad Meghni who has now missed out. Coach Rabah Saadane has not helped matters by trying to introduce too many new players to the squad, players who have been allowed by FIFA to switch nationality, having played for France at junior levels.

What may count in Algeria's favour
Algeria always raise their game when playing against big teams. Tey have a squad made of players with necessary European football experience. However, the Desert foxes have to pray hard to summon of their hunting instincts against the ever-improving USA and the on-fire Englishmen.

Challenges: Poor preparations. They have only had one warm-up game against Ireland, and they were clobbered 3-0 in Ireland. Their last friendly encounter is against little known United Arab Emirates in Nuremburg in Germany.

Verdict on level of preparedness
Algeria will not be fully prepared for their opening encounter against Slovenia on 13 June. They will have to move mountains if they dream of springing surprises in their difficult group. The players have to get used to each other first. Africa will be hoping and praying that Algeria become one of many African sides who will make the continent proud by qualifying for the second round.

3. Cameroon

There is no doubting that Cameroon always gives Africa hope for representing the continent with flying colours. In 1990, the Indomitable Lions were just 8 minutes away from a semi-final birth until a very late penalty for England took the match to extra-time, where English finally prevailed. But 1990 is a decade ago, and a lot has changed since then. Cameroon is in dire need of a new inspiration to realise the potential that the team has.

What may count in their favor.

Cameroon have a fighting spirit, and that spirit always gets them results even when all seem to be lost. At this year's Nations Cup finals in Angola their group performances left many neutrals believeing that they would exit at group stages, but they progressed to the next round. Cameroon boasts one of the best midfield departments of all teams at the World Cup. In Stephen Mbia of French champions Marseille, Jean Makoun of Champions league semi-finalists Lyon and Arsenal's Alexander Song, Cameroon has a match winning-midfield combination. Samuel Eto'o is a proven goal scorer, with vast experience in crunchy moments.

Challenges: An often leaky defence and an unblanced team, sum up Cameroon's major downfall. The experience of Rogbert Song should shore-up the defence, but the veteran has for long been regarded as the team's weakest link, maybe unfairly so. But the veteran former captain has slowed down, now lacks place and sometimes lacks concentration. Yet Cameroon has other defenders to bank on. The Lions must also shed off their over-reliance on Eto'o for goals.

Verdict on the level of their preparedness
The team has been playing good friendly matches against such teams like Portugal. There is also the emergence of younger players such as Song, Enoh Eyong of Ajax Amsterdam and Nuremburg's striking sensation Eric Choupo-Mating. From their group, Cameroon have potential to qualify for the second round.

4. Ghana

The Black Stars of Ghana have been Africa's favourite team for the past 4 years following their impressive showing at the 2006 World Cup. They demostrated their depth by taking untried players from their victorious Under 20 World Cup winning team to the Nations Cup finals in January following injuries to key players. They surpassed expectations by reaching the finals, and narrowly losing out to Egypt. However, the current form of the Black Stars has been a worrying factor for many Africans and Ghanaians in particular. They recently lost 4-1 in Holland against the home team. It is hoped that the loss was a timely wake-up call for the Ghanaians.

What may count in their favour
Ghana has a very young squad which is very hungry for success following their Under 20 World Cup triumph. The return to the fold of inspirational midfielders Steven Appiah and Sulley Muntari amd veteran defender John Mensah will surely lift up the spirits of the Black Stars. The trhee are real team leaders and will provide the necessary leadership in the absence of Chelsea's Michael Essien.

Challenge: Ghana appears to rely heavily for goals on chief striker Asamoah Gyan of Rennes, France. There is also no certainty as to who forms the back four, and who will partner Gyan upfront.

Verdict on level of preparedness.
Ghana's first game against Serbia will prove to be make or break encounter for both teams. The Black Stars Coach Milovan Rajevac needs to plug any holes exposed by the Dutch team in their friendly match on Tuesday. The team has great potential, but it is the players' state of mind on the mind which will make the difference.

5. Ivory Coast

The Elephants have been described as Africa's Brazil, or Africa's Netherlands. The team shows great potential to beat any team in the world, but somehow they do not get to fulfill their potential when it matters. The team is donned with world-class players, with the likes of Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Yaya Toure, Kolo Toure playing for the best clubs in the world.

What may work in their favor.

The great form of key player and captain Didier Drogba, Aruna Dindane, and Salomon Kalou. The team appears to be balanced this time around in all departments. The team did not have a great Nations Cup and they will definitely want to atone for their poor showing in Angola

Challenge: The Ivorians do not always work as a team. They have been crtiticised for being a group of great individuals. Their coach might also have joined the team a bit too late and his system might take the players a bit longer to master.

Verdict on their level of preparedness.

The team shows great form but finds itself a group dubbed 'group of death'. Wityh bette focus they have potential to qualify for second round.

Tomorrow we will continue assessing the 6th African representative, Nigeria.

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