Posted by Barrie on Thursday, 7 January 2010

Will An African Nation Win the 2010 World Cup?

While African nations failed to make Pele's infamous quote in 1977 of “An African team will win the World Cup before the end of this century“ come true, there's more belief than ever that one of the six participating African nations will win this year's World Cup.

And those believers have every reason to be optimistic. Although nations from Africa have disappointed in pretty much every World Cup since Cameroon reached the quarter finals of the 1990 tournament (Roger Milla and co). This time they come better prepared.

It goes without saying the home field advantage. The world cup is hosted in South Africa. It's been common pub knowledge in the past few months that Brazil and Argentina are the only two nations to have won the tournament outside of their own continent (Brazil winning in Sweden in 1958 is the only European hosted world cup that didn't have a European winner). Whether you class it as history or environmental factors, it's in the African nations favour.

Home support has proven to be a key factor in World Cups too, with the hosts always making it past the group stage since its invention. South Korea making the quarter finals in 2002 is a key example of that. England's only final appearance and victory, back in 1966 was their hosted tournament also. South Africa have a tough task with Mexico, Uruguay and France in their group. But they will be aided by the overwhelming support expected for the home nation and the five other African nations.

Those five others are Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria. All of which will be on display in the African Cup of Nations that begins on Sunday. However South Africa did not qualify for this year's tournament. For these five, it's a competitive tournament in a World Cup year which should prove to be a big advantage for them, while the other 27 qualifiers have the occasional friendly between now and June.

In previous world cups, perhaps the African sides haven't had the experience or tactical input of the Europeans that has proven to be successful. Former Lyon and Rangers manager Paul Le Guen is currently the national coach of Cameroon; Serbian Milovan Rajevac is in charge of Ghana; Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic of Ivory Coast; and Carlos Alberto Parreira is in charge of South Africa. The Brazilian brings a wealth of experience, coaching in 5 previous World Cups (21 games) including leading Brazil to glory in 1994.

Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto'o are two of the highest-rated strikers in the World, both Champions League finalists. Eto'o, along with Yaya Toure won the competition last season. Michael Essien and Emmanuel Eboue are also Champions League runners up and Premier League regulars. There are no excuses for lack of experience, facilities or quality when they head into this year's tournament.

The bookmakers haven't been so kind, with the Ivory Coast only as 9th favourites at 28/1.

Will one of these African sides lift the world cup trophy in Johannesburg on July 11th?

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At 10 January 2010 at 18:37 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

African nation to win? I seriously hope not - 2010 is gonna be England's year! Come on boys!


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