For Africans, the real kickoff of the World Cup football is Friday, June 15, 2018. Morocco and Egypt will be the first two representatives of the continent to enter the competition. Senegal, Tunisia, Nigeria… in total, five African countries are present in Russia.
They will need talent, but also success to get where none has ever arrived: in the semifinals.
The question comes every four years: will there be, finally, an African country in the last square of the World Cup? Supporters of the continent are always tempted to believe, but so far, they still disappoint at the quarterfinals.
First objective, therefore: to survive the group phase.
This is a challenge in itself for most teams. To pass the first round, Morocco Ziyech will have to rank ahead of Spain Andrés Iniesta or Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo. As for Khazri’s Tunisia, he will have to do better than Eden Hazard’s Belgium or Harry Kane’s England.
But after all, the very principle of surprise is that we do not see it coming. Witness number one: Senegal, back 16 years after an extraordinary course that saw him defeat France and stop in the quarterfinals.
The generation Sadio Mané now wants to write his own story.
Nigeria, six World Cup in the meter, the only nation already present at the last Brazilian World Cup, comes out of a series of preparation matches not very reassuring. But the captain John Obi Mikel takes a young troop that would be well accompanied Argentina in the next round.
As for Egypt, it had the best odds, because his group seemed within reach, until the injury of his star, Mohamed Salah, does not make the foreheads of the prognosticers.
Prudence, therefore, and ambition. In 2014, two African teams, Nigeria and Algeria, qualified for the Round of 16.