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Too Good, Too Bad: Africa’s World Cup 2022 group stage round-up

18:27 EAT 03/12/2022
Kalidou Koulibaly, Senegal
GOAL highlights the best and the most forgettable performances, moments or incidents from the now-concluded opening round

Mohammed Kudus was a top performer for Ghana despite their early exit while Wahbi Khazri gave Tunisia a stunning 1-0 success over defending world champions France, albeit without securing progress for Tunisia.

Senegal and Morocco played admirably to advance from their groups, with the Lions of Teranga particularly impressing against the Netherlands, Qatar and Ecuador.

How about Vincent Aboubakar, who delivered on the big stage for Cameroon despite a disagreement between Rigobert Song and goalkeeper Andre Onana that saw the latter leave the squad?

In this feature, GOAL recollects some of the significant incidents — good and bad — from the group stage.

  • Senegal World Cup 2022.

    Too Good: Senegal’s group stage dominance

    Senegal may have finished second in Group A, but they probably should have topped that section ahead of Louis van Gaal’s team.

    The Lions of Teranga held off the Dutch for the most part in the opening game, defeated hosts Qatar with ease — aided by Edouard Mendy coming up trumps when needed — and dominated Ecuador in the final game.

    They lost Sadio Mane on the eve of the finals but have spread the attacking responsibility and it is no surprise all five goals have come from different players.

    Aliou Cisse became the third African manager to guide a team into the Round of 16 (before Morocco’s Walid Regragui joined the Senegal boss and Stephen Keshi) and will look to at least match the Lions’ 2002 exploits.

    Cisse’s group have arguably been Africa’s best side in Qatar.

  • Wahbi Khazri, Issam Jebali

    Too Bad: Tunisia’s finishing

    Wahbi Khazri finally ended Tunisia’s poor run in front of goal against a much-changed France side but the North African side’s profligacy and rushed decision-making cost them.

    Of the Eagles of Carthage’s 30 shots, 12 were speculative attempts from outside the box, which robbed them of high-percentage scoring chances if they probed for a clearer opening.

    That said, it may not have mattered in the end had Denmark found an equaliser against Australia.

  • Hakimi Ziyech Morocco

    Too Good: Morocco’s unexpected progress

    The Atlas Lions jettisoned Vahid Halilhodzic a couple of months to the finals — something the experienced Bosnian describes as “sporting and moral injustice” — precipitating recalls for Hakim Ziyech and Noussair Mazraoui.

    Croatia and Belgium were tipped to go through but Walid Regragui’s crew ended Group F unbeaten after a creditable draw with the former and a stunning 2-0 triumph against the Red Devils.

    Morocco had not made the Round of 16 since 1986, so outranking the runners-up from 2018 and the second-ranked side in the world must be commended.

    Will the North African side claim another scalp when they do battle with Spain in three days?

  • song_onana

    Too Bad: Rigobert Song vs Andre Onana

    The surprise was palpable when news broke that the Inter Milan goalkeeper was dropped from the Cameroon squad for the Serbia game on Monday.

    Song was not against Onana’s more eccentric goalkeeping but wanted the former Ajax shot-stopper curbing those instincts to a significant degree.

    Onana was subsequently sent home and you wonder if a compromise could have been reached and why one was not.

    How this develops remains to be seen but it was a controversy that tainted the Indomitable Lions’ final two games.

  • Vincent Aboubakar of Cameroon, 2022

    Too Good: Clutch Vincent Aboubakar

    Serbia were 3-1 up against Cameroon and had it easy against the Indomitable Lions…until Aboubakar’s introduction.

    The striker changed the game, scoring a scooped lob to make it 3-2 before setting up Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting for the leveller to make it 3-3.

    On Friday, he ended Africa’s wait for a win over Brazil when he scored a late header in Cameroon’s 1-0 win before getting a second yellow.

    He did not pull up trees after his introduction against Switzerland but the Central African nation would have had the centre forward to thank had they squeezed through in Group G.

  • Andre Ayew penalty Ghana Uruguay World Cup 2022

    Too Bad: Ghana’s missed opportunity

    Ghana entered the final round of games in second spot but ended the day bottom of Group H.

    They will rue Andre Ayew's missed penalty against Uruguay, a cruel twist of fate that saw the surviving member of the 2010 side also fail from 12 yards, which would have put them 1-0 up.

    All the Black Stars needed was a point but they fell to a 2-0 loss, in the end opening the door for South Korea to clinch second spot.

    If it is any consolation, though, they can take solace in Uruguay’s failure to advance.

  • Mohammed Kudus Ghana.

    Too Good: Mohammed Kudus

    Ghana’s progress or otherwise hinged on Kudus’ performances and decisive quality, and he offered hope against Portugal before netting twice in the 3-2 win against South Korea.

    The Ajax man was the Black Stars’ go-to attacker in Qatar and he gave a limited Ghanaian attack a needed menace.

    His potential is exciting and you wonder what the future holds for the 22-year-old.