News Matches
World Cup

Ranking every single African World Cup team ever

03:29 WAT 20/12/2022
En-Nesyri, Iwobi, Tshabalala, Gyan
Where do Morocco’s World Cup heroes rank among the continent’s greatest ever World Cup teams?
  • Croatia Cameroon 2014 World Cup Group A 06192014

    #49 Cameroon 2014

    Pitiful from the Indomitable Lions at the 2014 tournament as, beset by infighting and dissatisfaction with bonuses, they lost all three matches and were the first team eliminated.

    Not just that, but they endured four-goal maulings against Brazil and Croatia, conceding nine goals across their three matches.

    It was s miserable end to Samuel Eto’o’s unfulfilled World Cup career.

  • Zaire WM 1974

    #48 Zaire 1974

    An awesome team, who won two Africa Cup of Nations titles, but Zaire endured a disastrous 1974 tournament.

    A 2-0 defeat by a strong Scotland team isn’t dreadful, but their 9-0 pummelling by Yugoslavia was a dark moment for African football.

    They rounded off a pointless group stage by being thumped 3-0 by Brazil.

  • Togo 2006

    #47 Togo 2006

    Shock qualifiers, Togo’s campaign was overshadowed by a bonus row, and they lost all three games—making little positive contribution to the competition.

  • #46 Cameroon 2010

    The first team eliminated from the 2010 tournament, Paul Le Guen wholly failed to get the best out of his side as they lost all three matches.

    Considering the talent available to the Lions, this was a massive underachievement for the Central Africans.

  • Mohamed Salah Egypt 2018

    #45 Egypt 2018

    The Pharaohs’ grand return to the World Cup for the first time since 1990 ended in disappointment, as they failed to take a single point from their three group games.

    The injury suffered by Mohamed Salah in the Champions League final massively affected the talisman’s ability to play and make an impact, but Hector Cuper’s conservative style also won few admirers.

  • Oleg Salenko Roger Milla 1994

    #44 Cameroon 1994

    Much was expected of Cameroon in ’94 after their heroics four years previously, but they endured their worst World Cup campaign to date with a first round exit in the USA.

    Roger Milla may have become the tournament’s oldest scorer at 42, but the positives of a 2-2 draw with Sweden quickly dissipated as they were thumped 3-0 by Brazil and then humiliated 6-1 by Russia.

  • #43 Morocco 1994

    Morocco lost all three of their group stage games—the first African team since Zaire in 1974 to depart a tournament without a single point—although they were competitive in each game and only lost each match by one goal.

    Belgium and the Netherlands represented tricky opponents, even if they’ll be disappointed to have lost to Saudi Arabia.

  • 61aa85df53a161765ca5582ba73095c3a787089b

    #42 Ghana 2014

    A talented side was beset by infighting and controversy, and while they admirably held eventual winners Germany 2-2—the only team not to be beaten by the Mannschaft—defeats by the States and Portugal meant a First Round exit.

    The defining image of Ghana’s World Cup campaign in 2014 was John Boye kissing a fistful of dollars after a plane was sent to Brazil from West Africa with the players’ bonuses in cash.

  • Yakubu miss vs. South Korea

    #41 Nigeria 2010

    Took a point against South Korea, but it was irrelevant by this stage, as consecutive defeats against Argentina and Greece spelled early elimination.

    Lars Lagerback proved to be a miserable appointment by the NFF ahead of the 2010 tournament.

  • #40 Tunisia 2002

    Being drawn with Russia, Belgium and Japan in the opening round represented a gilt-edged opportunity for Tunisia, but they departed the tournament after taking just one point and scoring only one goal.

  • Tunisia 2006

    #39 Tunisia 2006

    Another underwhelming effort from the Carthage Eagles—and it’s this kind of tournament outings that perhaps prompts African fans to argue they’re wasting one of the continent’s World Cup tickets!

    The Eagles were held by Saudi Arabia in their opener, thanks only to Radhi Jaidi’s 92nd-minute equaliser, and were promptly eliminated after back-to-back defeats by Spain and Ukraine.

  • #38 Algeria 2010

    Eliminated after failing to score a goal, Algeria held England in one of the tournament’s most boring games in recent memory, and failed to make an impact against a limited Slovenia side, losing 1-0.

    Perhaps the only thing working in their favour is that they weren’t more convincingly beaten by the USA.

  • Taribo West & Joseph Yobo, Nigeria 2002

    #37 Nigeria 2002

    Admittedly, the Super Eagles were drawn in the Group of Death, and they did only narrowly lose to Marcelo Bielsa’s magnificent Argentina side in their opener.

    However, a 2-1 defeat by Sweden proved costly, and the 0-0 draw with England was a dull contest against an unadventurous Three Lions side.

  • #36 Tunisia 1998

    A rugged outfit who lost their first two matches without scoring a goal, but did retain some pride by drawing 1-1 with Romania in their final group game, even though the Europeans were already through.

  • Lazaros Greece Serey Die Ivory Coast 2014 World Cup Group C

    #35 Ivory Coast 2014

    Unlike in 2006 and 2010, the Elephants were handed a much more straightforward group in 2014, and despite defeating Japan in their opener they still—somehow—missed out on the knockouts.

    Subsequent losses against Colombia and Greece followed, with the latter dumping the West Africans out with a 93rd-minute Georgios Samaras goal when the knockouts were in sight.

  • #34 Algeria 1986

    Algeria’s ’82 team was always going to be a hard act to follow, and the ’86 generation struggled to build on that success.

    They drew 1-1 with Northern Ireland in their opener, but subsequent back-to-back defeats by Brazil and Spain meant an early exit.

  • #33 Egypt 1934

    Africa’s first representatives, Egypt were defeated 4-2 by a strong Hungary side as their tournament ended after one match, but it could well have been a different story had Abdelrahman Fawzy’s second-half wondergoal not been controversially ruled out for offside.

  • Alex Iwobi Nigeria 2018

    #32 Nigeria 2018

    Defeated Iceland 2-0 but losses against Croatia and Argentina meant a First Round exit for Gernot Rohr’s side.

    There’s no shame losing to eventual finalists Croatia, but Nigeria would have progressed had their game management been better against Argentina, with Marcos Rojo’s 86th-minute winner sending the Super Eagles home.

  • Medhi Benatia Morocco 2018

    #31 Morocco 2018

    Herve Renard’s Atlas Lions played some attractive football, and were only denied a famous victory over Spain following Iago Aspas’s stoppage time equaliser.

    Nonetheless, considering the talent at their disposal, they should have done better than consecutive defeats against Iran and Portugal.

  • Bafana Bafana 1998 World Cup France Hans Vonk

    #30 South Africa 1998

    Much was expected of Bafana’s Nation Builders at the World Cup, and they did hold an excellent Denmark team 1-1 to prove that they belonged at this level.

    However, a 3-0 defeat by eventual champions France was chastening, while a 2-2 draw with Saudi Arabia was a disappointment when the Last 16 still lay in reach for Philippe Troussier’s side.

  • #29 Morocco 1970

    The first African qualifiers since Egypt in 1934, Morocco fell at the first hurdle but they did pick up Africa’s first ever point at the tournament—holding Bulgaria 1-1 in their final group game.

  • Inaki Williams Ghana 2022

    #28 Ghana 2022

    Such a strong squad, and so many options, the Black Stars actually showcased their quality in the 3-2 defeat by Portugal and were unfortunate to lose—with Mohammed Salisu harshly penalised for an interception on Cristiano Ronaldo in the box which resulted in a Portugal penalty.

    They then defeated South Korea 3-2—seeing off a rally from the Taegeuk Warriors to win—but Andre Ayew’s missed penalty led to a capitulation against Uruguay, when the Black Stars had had the opportunity to banish the demons of 2010.

  • Cameroon 2002

    #27 Cameroon 2002

    A bitter disappointment for the Indomitable Lions considering this team had just won back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations titles.

    Roy Keane’s exit from the Ireland camp just about tipped the balance in Cameroon’s favour, but Winfried Schafer’s side were unable to capitalise and were held 1-1 by Eire in their opener.

    They could only manage a 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia, and their defeat by Germany meant that an admittedly strong Ireland team qualified after themselves holding the Germans.

  • senegal 2018

    #26 Senegal 2018

    Senegal were ‘unfortunate’ to have been eliminated by fair play rules, by virtue of having picked up more yellow cards than Japan, but in truth, it shouldn’t have come to that.

    They defeated Poland in their opener, but twice let a lead slip against Japan to draw 2-2 before being defeated by Colombia.

  • Claude Le Roy coach of Togo.

    #25 Cameroon 1998

    Before they’d truly embarked on their golden era at the turn of the century, Cameroon still had a strong squad ahead of the ’98 tournament.

    They held both Austria and Chile to admirable draws, but a 3-0 defeat against Italy ultimately proved fatal for Claude Le Roy’s promising side.

  • Wahbi Khazri Tunisia 2018

    #24 Tunisia 2018

    Eliminated after back-to-back defeats by England and Belgium—even if the latter was an entertaining showdown—the Carthage Eagles did win the country’s first World Cup game since 1978 by beating Panama 2-1.

    Wahbi Khazri was the North Africans’ star performer.

  • Loco Angola 2006

    #23 Angola 2006

    A valiant effort from the debutants, who were only narrowly defeated by their former colonial ‘masters’ Portugal in their opener, and then held both Mexico and Iran in their subsequent group games.

  • Marco van Basten Netherlands Egypt 1990 World Cup

    #22 Egypt 1990

    Handed a nightmarish group after being pitted with the Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland and England.

    The football wasn’t pretty, but the Pharaohs still took two points and were only eliminated when they were defeated 1-0 by the Three Lions in their final group game.

  • #21 Ivory Coast 2010

    A tough draw and a pre-tournament injury to Didier Drogba were real setbacks for the Elephants, although they did start admirably with a 0-0 draw against Portugal.

    A 3-1 defeat by Brazil followed, and while they did defeat North Korea 3-0, Portugal’s own draw with Brazil was enough to take them through one point ahead of the Ivorians.

  • Vincent Aboubakar of Cameroon, 2022

    #20 Cameroon 2022

    Chaos is relatively far away from the Indomitable Lions, and this World Cup was little different, with Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui’s shock omission from the squad, Andre Onana’s premature departure from camp, and Samuel Eto’o attacking a journalist.

    They beat a weakened Brazil side due to Vincent Aboubakar’s late winner, and battled back to hold Serbia, but things could have been so much better if Rigobert Song’s decision-making had been a little better.

  • Siyabonga Nomvethe South Africa 2002

    #19 South Africa 2002

    One of Africa’s more underrated World Cup teams, South Africa rescued a point against Paraguay with a stoppage-time equaliser in their opener, and then downed Slovenia in their second game to give themselves a fighting chance of progression.

    They were defeated 3-2 by Spain in their final group game, despite coming back from two goals down, and were only pipped to the Last 16 by Paraguay by virtue of having scored one goal fewer than the South Americans.

    It was nearly a glorious achievement for Jomo Sono’s troops.

  • Ivory Coast 2006

    #18 Ivory Coast 2006

    The Elephants were handed a disastrous draw in their first ever World Cup appearance, and it was little surprise that they lost both of their opening fixtures against Argentina and the Netherlands.

    However, both of those losses were only narrow, and the Elephants produced a barnstorming comeback in their final game to defeat Serbia and Montenegro 3-2 despite having been two goals down.

    With a slightly less demanding draw, this team could surely have achieved great things.

  • #17 Cameroon 1982

    The first African team to be eliminated without losing a game, Cameroon marked their first appearance at the tournament by holding Peru, Poland and Italy to draws.

    It wasn’t enough for them to progress to the knockouts.

  • Hannibal Mejbri, Ellyes Skhiri, Wajdi Kechrida of Tunisia

    #16 Tunisia 2022

    Buoyed by home support, Tunisia held dark horses Denmark and defeated eventual finalists France—albeit a Bleus B Team—although they weren’t able to capitalise on these advantages to progress to the knockouts.

    A 1-0 defeat by Australia, in which they were outthought and outmuscled, was a major disappointment.

  • Mustapha Hadji

    #15 Morocco 1998

    In one of the more interesting groups in World Cup history, Morocco were held by a strong Norway side, were thumped by eventual finalists Brazil, and equalled Nigeria ‘94’s record for beating a team 3-0 by demolishing a decent Scotland team in their final group game.

    Mustapha Hadji’s wondergoal against the Scots was one of the finest ever scored by an African player at the tournament.

  • Katlego Mphela, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Teko Modise and Reneilwe Letsholonyane of South Africa

    #14 South Africa 2010

    Becoming the first World Cup hosts to be eliminated in the group stage is an unwanted record, certainly, but considering the pessimism around Bafana ahead of the tournament, taking four points from a group containing Mexico, Uruguay and France was a decent achievement.

    Siphiwe Tshabalala’s goal against Mexico in the opener was an all-time great World Cup moment, while Bafana’s 2-1 victory against an imploding France team was one of Africa’s finest triumphs on the grandest stage.

  • Peter Odemwingie Juwon Oshaniwa Nigeria 2014 WORLD CUP GROUP F (06222014)

    #13 Nigeria 2014

    Defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina in the group stage to secure passage to the knockouts—despite a lacklustre opening draw with Iran—and were giving France a good game in the Last 16 before injury struck.

    The Super Eagles lost control after Ogenyi Onazi had to be replaced, and Les Bleus ultimately won 2-0.

  • England Senegal Round of 16 World Cup Qatar 04122022

    #12 Senegal 2022

    The Teranga Lions won two matches to advance from Group A, but they were admittedly pooled into a relatively straightforward pool and were expected to progress past Ecuador and a poor Qatar side.

    Without Sadio Mane, they lacked the cutting edge and creative guile to get a result against the Netherlands or England.

  • Nigeria 1998 World Cup.

    #11 Nigeria 1998

    The only African team to reach the knockouts at the 1998 World Cup, Nigeria’s team was crammed with talent—and defeated Spain and Bulgaria en route to the Last 16.

    However, they struggled to get the balance of their midfield right, and were thoroughly outclassed by Denmark in the Second Round.

  • Tunisia 1978

    #10 Tunisia 1978

    The first African team to win a match at the tournament, Tunisia came from behind to defeat Mexico 3-1 in their opener at Argentina 1978.

    The Carthage Eagles were unable to build on that success, and missed out on the knockouts despite holding reigning champions West Germany to a 0-0 draw.

    They were only beaten by a fine Poland side.

  • Islam Slimani Algeria 2014

    #9 Algeria 2014

    A stark contrast to the 2010 team, Algeria’s 2014 generation was exhilarating and became the first African team to score four in a World Cup game when they dispatched South Korea 4-2.

    They demonstrated immense character to progress to the knockouts despite losing their opener against Belgium, and eventual champions Germany required extra time to beat them in the Last 16.

  • Ghana 2006 World Cup.

    #8 Ghana 2006

    Followed in the footsteps of Nigeria, Senegal and Morocco to reach the knockouts in their first appearance at the tournament, Ghana deserve immense credit for progressing to the Second Round despite losing their opener to Italy.

    They proved their quality with a 2-0 victory over dark horses Czech Republic, and then dispatched the USA before being outclassed by Brazil in the knockouts.

  • Salah Assad of Algeria, Rodolfo Dubo & Mario Osben of Chile

    #7 Algeria 1982

    Won two group matches, including a stunning 2-1 victory over West Germany in one of the tournament’s biggest giant killings.

    However, Algeria were denied a place in the knockouts by collusion between Germany and Austria—the Disgrace of Gijon—as the pair played out a mutually convenient result that condemned the Fennecs to an unjust exit.

  • Nigeria 1994 World Cup.

    #6 Nigeria 1994

    Nigeria were Africa’s only success story in 1994, as the Super Eagles’ Golden Generation followed up their Africa Cup of Nations triumph earlier that year with a rousing run to the Last 16.

    Inspired by Rashidi Yekini, they smashed Bulgaria 3-0 in their opener—still Africa’s biggest World Cup win—and then dispatched Greece to progress to the knockouts.

    Eventual finalists Italy required extra time to beat them, in a match which could truly have gone either way.

  • Morocco 1986 World Cup.

    #5 Morocco 1986

    Africa’s pioneers as they became the first side from the continent to win their World Cup group, and therefore the first to reach the knockouts.

    They drew with both Poland and England—keeping clean sheets in both games—before defeating Portugal, and it was only a late Lothar Matthaus winner in the Last 16 that ended their superb run against West Germany.

  • Asamoah Gyan Uruguay Ghana 2010

    #4 Ghana 2010

    The Black Stars built on the success of 2006 by again emerging from a tricky group—taking four points from Serbia and Australia—before Asamoah Gyan’s thumping effort downed the United States in extra time in the Last 16.

    Much has been written about the controversy and heartbreak at the conclusion of their quarter-final with Uruguay, and a case could be made that the Black Stars were legitimately closer to the Last16 than any other African team in history…at least until this year.

  • Roger Milla & Cameroon 1990 World Cup

    #3 Cameroon 1990

    The first African side to reach the quarter-finals, the Indomitable Lions’ successful 1980s generation climaxed with an unforgettable campaign in Italy.

    It began with a shock 1-0 victory in the opener against reigning champions, Diego Maradona’s Argentina.

    Francois Omam-Biyik’s sensational header proved t00 much for the Albiceleste, and super-sub Roger Milla’s heroics against Romania and Colombia sent the Lions into the quarters.

    They arguably deserved better than a 3-2 extra-time defeat by England.

  • Senegal 2002 World Cup.

    #2 Senegal 2002

    Until 2022, Senegal were surely Africa’s greatest World Cup side, having enjoyed a sensational run in Japan and South Korea two decades ago.

    Unlike Cameroon in 1990, the Teranga Lions were making their debut in the tournament, yet stunned reigning world and European champions France 1-0 in their opener with Papa Bouba Diop silencing Les Bleus.

    They advanced with draws against Uruguay and Denmark—riding their luck at times—and inspired by El-Hadji Diouf and Salif Diao, reached the quarters after Henri Camara’s Golden Goal downed Sweden in the Last 16.

  • Morocco World Cup 2022.

    #1 Morocco 2022

    The Atlas Lions’ achievements in Qatar set them apart as Africa’s greatest ever World Cup side.

    They won more games than any other one of the continent’s sides in the history—four including the penalty triumph over Spain—and also became the first team from Africa to reach the semi-finals.

    They defeated European giants Belgium, Portugal and Spain, and while their play was based upon a solid defence, they hardly espoused negative football.