Last Friday's World Cup draw in Bahia cast Africa's participants in some interesting groups, and Goal assesses how easily each of the five sides could have it come June 2014
By Owusu Ansah Doe
With the much anticipated Fifa World Cup draw held on December 6 and the tournament itself scheduled for summer next year, we long to see if Africa's five representatives are capable of at least qualifying from their respective groups.
In view of these developments, below is an analysis of how the African quintet could fare at the World Cup next year, with their respective groups in mind.
Group A sees the four-time African champions paired with Brazil, Mexico and Croatia. On paper, Brazil could automatically be checked to go through with ease, considering their triumphant exploits in the Confederations Cup earlier this year.
Narrowing it down to Cameroon - whose team is still a work in progress- very few African countries have proved capable of surpassing their standards on football's grandest stage. Summary of what they are capable of was their 1-0 stabbing of Diego Maradona's Argentina in 1990, even when they played the then defending world champions two men down.
Experience blended with exuberance will make it relatively easier for the central Africans to conquer Croatia and Mexico and at least salvage a respectable scoreline against favourites Brazil to see them through.
The Ivory Coast have been handed what promises to be the easiest group they have ever received since their World Cup debut in 2006. Considering the galaxy of stars and telepathy possessed by Les Elephants, they will have no excuse not to qualify from such a group. Indeed, it would be an absolute embarrassment for this fine generation of Ivorian footballers were either Japan or Greece to leapfrog them and qualify instead with dark horses Colombia.
Nigeria were grouped with Argentina in a second consecutive World Cup group - and for the fourth time overall - and surely were not exactly happy about it until the addition of unfancied Iran and the Edin Dzeko-led Bosnia in Group F. An image-salvaging display against Argentina
and characteristically spirited performances against the other two group mates will see the Super Eagles through to the next phase of the tournament.
On paper, Ghana almost never have been favourites to make it past the group rounds in both of their previous World Cup appearances. Ahead of Germany 2006, few tipped the Black Stars to sail through a group involving eventual champions Italy, alongside the Czech Republic and the USA (both of whom were ranked among the world's top five national teams at the time by Fifa), yet the Asamoah Gyans and Michael Essiens did so with ease.
The next edition, South Africa 2010, saw Ghana put the impeccable Serbians to the sword, before taking the game to Australia and Germany in subsequent matches, drawing with the former and losing only narrowly to the latter. Once again, the Black Stars defied logic to emerge successfully.
This time, Ghana have drawn another difficult lot - the USA, Germany, and Portugal - in Group G, the so-called 'Group of Death'. A win in the opener against the USA should spur the Stars on to give a good account of themselves against the efficient Germany and Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal, arguably the group's toughest sides. Given that there is a likelihood of a stalemate occurring in games involving the trio of opponents, Ghana's cause could be boosted significantly.
Algeria could not have asked for anything better than a group that includes South Korea and Russia alongside favorites Belgium, all of whom are very beatable yet formidable sides. Failure to qualify from Group H on the part of Les Fennecs would hardly be excusable.
In reality, all of Africa's five teams have fairly manageable groups and can, if they exert themselves a little, make an impact at the Mundial.