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Tough World Cup draw for African challengers

Piers Edwards | 11:30 UK time, Saturday, 5 December 2009

A heavy dose of reality crashed down upon African hopes of a maiden Fifa World Cup title after Friday's draw pitched the continent's most-fancied teams in challenging groups.

In the build-up to the Cape Town draw, where locals flooded the city centre for the most colourful of street parties, most of the talk centred upon Ghana and Ivory Coast spearheading Africa's unlikely quest.

But now the tables have turned after the Black Stars landed in among Germany, Australia and Serbia (Group D) while the Ivorians face Brazil, Portugal and North Korea (Group G).

africans595.jpgThe Soweto Gospel Choir performed with panache and passion during the draw ceremony

Two of the continent's leading countries may now exit at the first hurdle, and it's hard not to feel some sympathy for Didier Drogba's Ivory Coast. Boasting a high-calibre team packed with seasoned Europe-based campaigners like Kolo Toure, his brother Yaya, Didier Zokora and Emmanuel Eboue, the West Africans surely deserved a break after their 2006 experience.

On that occasion, the Ivorians' inaugural finals pitched them against a dangerous Argentina and a star-studded Dutch side - a challenge that proved too much, especially after the Elephants gifted both teams early 2-0 leads.

Four years on, the least they arguably deserved was a sporting chance of progress but now their fate largely rests with their opener against Portugal in Port Elizabeth.
A result there could ease the intriguing clash with Brazil five days later, and the Ivorians will be desperate to enter their final game against North Korea with a second round place still at stake.

Ghana, too, can feel a little aggrieved about the calibre of their opponents - Germany being Germany (six World Cup finals in 11 tournaments), Australia having cruised through the Asian groups while the strong and skilful Serbs blew away the French in qualifying.

Yet the Black Stars can point to their first World Cup in 2006 as grounds for optimism, for no-one gave them a hope of qualifying from a group including Italy, Czech Republic and the United States.

Now, as then, they must rely on the midfield guile of Stephen Appiah, Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari to drive them through - although there are new faces as well. Another midfielder, Norway-based Anthony Annan, has become a key man while youngsters such as Dominic Adiyiah, snapped up by AC Milan after his lead role in October's historic U20 World Cup triumph, and Dede Ayew (Abedi Pele's son) are knocking on the door.

Ivorian and Ghanaian misfortunes mean some may start looking for a different African winner - and Samuel Eto'o's Cameroon may well lead that charge.
It's a well-worn cliché that African football's biggest problems are a lack of discipline and professionalism, yet coach Paul Le Guen (ex-PSG and Rangers) has instilled both in the short period of time he's been in charge.

And a side with a decent goalkeeper (Carlos Kameni), Premier League defenders (Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Sebastian Bassong), Jean Makoun, Stephane Mbia and Alex Song in midfield, and Eto'o up front, should not be underestimated.

The 1990 World Cup quarter-finalists will fancy their chances against Denmark, Japan and Netherlands and should they unexpectedly top Group E, an appealing second round clash with either New Zealand, Paraguay or Slovakia awaits.

Making up the numbers are Algeria, Nigeria and of course hosts South Africa.
English eyes will be focusing on Algeria and January's Nations Cup participation in war-ravaged Angola is going to be the subject of close scrutiny.

In truth, the Fennecs are a limited side, short on quality up front, and with only the lively Karim Ziani, once of Marseille but now of Wolfsburg, buzzing around with any danger. As a colleague points out, it says everything about the North Africans that their right-back was their joint top scorer in qualifying - and Antar Yahia, despite his brilliant finish against Egypt, is no Josimar.

You might expect coach Rabah Saadane, who was (incredibly) in charge during Algeria's last appearance in 1986, to be dismayed but he was beaming after the draw, relishing the chance of taking on England as he bathed in the World Cup's unique aura.

Elsewhere, Nigeria's Super Eagles, who were unconvincing in qualifying despite their unbeaten record, will surely be happy with Group B opponents Argentina, South Korea and Greece. The Nigerians beat Greece 2-0 in both countries' first World Cup finals in 1994, while the Argentines hold little fear given the Super Eagles' famous Olympic triumph over them in 1996.

Last but by no means least, the second round hopes of hosts South Africa dimmed ever more when drawing two former World Cup winners - France and Uruguay - and the experienced Mexicans. Bafana Bafana, the lowest ranked team in the tournament, have scored once in seven games, won once in 11 games, but must now overcome three sides in Fifa's top 20.

Yet it's a fallacy to say the World Cup will be over if Carlos Alberto Parreira's men crash out early because football fans here have long been salivating at the thought of seeing their favourite players in South African stadiums.

With the draw having shown the planet what South Africa can do, overjoyed locals are finally realising that all talk of Plan B is now truly obsolete - "the world is watching us and the world is coming," Capetonians screamed with delight. And if Friday's festival in the Mother City is anything to go by - street performers, oversized puppets and endless vuvuzelas to the fore - the 2010 World Cup is going to be as colourful as it is memorable.


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  • Comment number 1.

    I too watch african football a lot.

    But for me Cameroon were always the favourite for the African Team to go furthest. Le Guen has got them playing passing football now which suits Eto'o and Webo and of course they can be physical when required, so they look nothing like pfister's poor Cameroon in the Cup of Nations 2008. They have a balanced team, good defence, a great GK and a world class striker who keep the best defences in the world Cup on their toes.

    Cameroon can quietly go into the WC whilst most people look to the more hyped African teams Ghana and Ivory Coast. Its injury to Eto'o and their lack of depth up front that may scupper their plans.

    Ivory Coast's defense is a concern, and its a very unlucky draw. They know that they must beat Portugal and anything they can get against Brazil is a bonus, but just think they must play a tactical game against the Brazillians and resist their attacking instincts because they'll get picked off on the counter. But at whilst the portuguese are solid defensively, they won't be scoring many goals and they have Drogba and Y.Toure to physically dominate the portuguese.

    Ghana move the ball very well, but missing chances is their specialty seeing as they've only now started producing strikers who only be ready in 2014 onwards. Still their midfield can dominate anyone, even if their defence is pourus.

    Nigeria's expecatations are the lowest they have been going into the WC, so maybe they can suprise some people.

  • Comment number 2.

    A poor draw for many reasons.

    I want England to win - but I want them to beat the best en route. As it is, we probably wont play a decent team until the semi-finals!

    Brazil could - if they have an off day - go out in the groups. And what kind of world cup will it be without them?

    Likewise, what was the point in seeding the hosts if they end up with a group like that? They'll be out first round.

    And the Ivory Coast? Another tough group. Would have been nice to see them go further....

    Perhaps it's time to stop seeding? And to let all 32 clubs take what comes their way from a truly open draw?

  • Comment number 3.

    I think that the Ivory coast can draw to portugal and maybe if they get a lucky draw with brazil but most likely lose . They would then need to thrash north korea imo and hope it is unfortunate that they had another diffcult draw when they were the second team pulled out of the hat (African) and got moved to group G . However there is nothing they can do about it i am worried though if ronaldo is on form he could tear through the Ivory Coasts average defence and less then average goal keeper

  • Comment number 4.

    Alway complaining of being put in group with big guns. Agentina & the Dutch were too much of them. Now Brazil and Portugal are 2 much? Do think African teams should be put in their own group?

    Seeding is done to avaoid big guns in one group.

  • Comment number 5.

    I think there are some positives in the case of Ivory Coast's group that have been overlooked here.

    The best thing for the Ivorians is that they don't play Brazil last because if Brazil were to go into that match needing a win they would most likely get it. But Ivory Coast play North Korea last and I think they have a good chance of winning that match.

    Ivory Coast play Portugal first and yes it will be a tough match but I think they should be able to at least get a draw or even win. Yes Portugal has got Ronaldo but Ivory Coast also have Drogba.

    As for Ghana, yes Germany are the most likely team to progress here but against Australia and Serbia - its anybody's game. The most dangerous opponent I think would be Serbia but Serbia qualifying ahead of France doesn't necessarily mean they are that good. The thing is they did not beat France itself in their matches.

    I think Ivory Coast and Ghana should get through especially with the support of the local people.

    Full Time Analysis

  • Comment number 6.

    Will definitely be interesting to see how the African teams cope, I'll be following England, however if we get eliminated then I'll be cheering an African team on for sure.

  • Comment number 7.

    i still think GHANA and IVORY COAST will raise the flag of AFRICA high

  • Comment number 8.

    Contrary to what many might think, there is a very real possibility of Ivory Coast and Portugal qualifying from that group and Brazil missing out. I suspect the Koreans might give Brazil a 1-0 shocker and they might only draw against the Ivoriens and the Portuguese.

  • Comment number 9.

    I'd like to support post N°1 on Cameroon as the real african team to watch. I also think they are happy not to be seen as the main African threat as pundits continue to flash on Ivory Coast and Ghana.

    But they'd have to bear that pressure (of Africa's hope) should they perform well at the upcoming Africa Cup; which I expect them to do.

    I have watched (being a scout)all of their recent games and think they are probably the most tactically astute African team at the moment. They are hard to score against (conceded only 2 goals and 1 since Paul Le Guen)and block spaces very well when not in possession. They build patiently from the back and play on a false tempo which allows them to break quickly. And they are physical monsters.

    A lot of people think Eto'o when talking of Cameroon but he is only part of robust unit which relies on 3 other players:
    - Achille Emana (a Zidane-like maestro) who plays for Betis Seville. He is not hyped as much as Appiah, Muntari or Zokora and yaya toure, but he is more skilful and physically stronger than the rest (and he scores with thunderous strikes).
    - Alex Song: who surprises me (and premierleague centric eyes) when he is playing for Cameroon these days. It could be that he feels more secure and confident with Cameroon...
    - Jean Makoun: The Lyon midfielder is a real piston and in the 3-man midfield played by Le Guen.
    To these one could add a host of other new men particularly a guy called Somen who plays for Salzburg in the Europa league. He is big, technical and scores impossible goals
    The Japanese, Danes and Dutch would have to be very careful not to think they've escaped the worst by not being in the same pool as Ivory Coast and Ghana. In fact, they should pray that the usual Cameroon weakness of disorganisation and indiscipline should return to the squad. Otherwise, they would be very hard to beat.

  • Comment number 10.

    The English press find it extremely easy to profile foreign teams as no good,technically deficient and lacking descipline.This blog is a pointer to that concerning the chances of African teams come June-that England will easly stroll past Algeria and all African teams are doomed to failure.

    My question to you is when last did Almight England won anything?The three lions one and only W/C win was at home in 1966 and till date controvercy still surrounds the win.In general,no Enropean tean has ever won the W/C outside Europe-S/A 2010 dosent look like an exception.So where does this place England,its chances and possiblities?

    The fact is that England is made up of average players who does not pocess the ability to come up with the extra-ordinary needed to win anything huge.Foreign inports make the EPL thick if the glamour of the EPL is what you consider as a backbone to the English winning anything in S/A.

    Football is never mathematics as England has found out on numerous occasions.Algeria ,you are free to consider a below par team but what happens if they hand England a comprehensive defeat?Certainly,you will go hang right?

    This is the first W/C on African soil and I want you to believe me when i say anything,i mean anything can happen which includes the possiblity of England crashing out in the group stages.

    God sparing our lives beyound June 2010,we shall certainly revisit this conversation when the group stages are concluded.

  • Comment number 11.

    Its the World Cup - so the groups should be tough.

    From the comments above you could almost believe people feel that the African teams a) have proved they are top tier world teams, and b) deserved to get easy draws. Both points are utter rubbish. The quality of African football has improved markedly, but those national teams still have much to prove at the top level of world football.

    Yes Ivory Coast and Ghana have to beat some good teams to progress, but that is as it should be, and they might well do it.

    And if I hear anymore about Mexico and Uruguay being a tough draw......get a grip people!

  • Comment number 12.

    Algeria unknowningly,is the toughest african draw the english could have gotten. They are more technical than subsaharan countries and are the toughest north african country in terms of their physicality and strength
    In 1982 when refreeing was not as fair as it is now they managed to beat a west-german team that got to the final and if not for austria and germany ganging up to play a one sided match,they would have gotten to the final. North african teams only fear strength and skills and the english team wouldnt count on these as their strong points.also,algerians dont make rash challenges and dont give penalties away.I am 1000% sure england wouldnt beat algeria and if they can get supported like the other african teams will, i see 3 african teams in the quarter-finals.

  • Comment number 13.

    As a first-time blogger, I'm intrigued and delighted by some of the comments here - especially Leo's analysis of Cameroon. I largely agree, primarily because of their squad of players but also because coach Paul Le Guen, given his time with Lyon in both France and the Champions League, is used to the high-pressure atmosphere the World Cup will bring - whatever his successes or failures since leaving the club.

    As for Mexico and Uruguay not being a tough draw, that may well be the case for the big guns, but they certainly will be for South Africa - currently ranked below the likes of Oman, El Salvador and neighbours Mozambique by Fifa.

    Bafana Bafana currently lack the quality to break such sides down, especially one as defensively-resolute as Uruguay, simply because they find it difficult to get behind any defence (especially if Steven Pienaar is absent). Take November's friendly against Norway, for example, where the World Cup hosts took 81 minutes to fashion a chance - and yet their dismal 1-0 defeat came against a side who won't even be in South Africa.

    As an Africa-based sports journalist living in Johannesburg, I hope Bafana Bafana do make it through - but at present, they're not good enough. All might change under 'new' coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, who has made some key decisions already, and the fact that many local players will have three months to prepare for the finals since the PSL league is being stopped in February to aid South Africa's World Cup preparations. This should provide a significant boost.

  • Comment number 14.

    OMG!!! So many 'experts' were tipping African nations to reach the last 8 or last 4 and saying they even could win the World Cup. Then they get a couple of good teams in the group and all of a sudden they will be knocked out and oh how lucky they are! If they are GENUINE contenders - which none of them are - then they wouldnt care who they drew as if you want to win the WC you have to beat whoever is put in front of you.

    #2 whats the point of not having seeds? So we can get all the best teams knocking each other out then a WC final with one useless team with an easy draw getting hammered in the final. Great fun.

    #2 again utter nonsense. If Brazil get knocked out in the group then it would show their team sucked. Thus they wouldnt deserve to be in the competition and a better team would have progressed so it would be a better WC without them. More than likely they will progress as Portugal are a shadow of their former sleves, Ivory Coast have some good players but no strength in depth and North Korea are a joke.

    #5 you are wrong, playing Brazil last would have been ideal. They would probably already have qualified and thus played a weakened team. As it is brazil MUST go out to win their second game, as it still means everything. In all probability, Brazil will have nothing to play for in the last gameand Portugal will grab a draw or a win against an understrength side - or lose not as heavily as IC probably will. However i agree that Ghana should not fear Serbia or Australia - respect them definitely, but fear them? No way.

    #8 i take it you are drunk or on drugs? Brazil will end up with only 2 points from their group? I will give you good odds on that if you fancy laying a bet with me.

    #10 why do African nations get written off, thats your question? Tell me the best finish of any African team in a WC ever. Algeria are a poor team who would NEVER qualify from a European group, THAT is why people say England have a great chance of getting through the group. What is the top ranked African team according to FIFA - theres another answer to your question!

    If English players are so poor, then do a search of the most represented nation in Champions League Finals over the last 6 years. You will find ENGLISH players come top. So get your facts straight. England have some incredible individuals, yet struggle to gel as a unit. MAYBE under Capello this can change, but it still hasn't fully. Will England win the World Cup? Who knows, but they have the easiest half of the draw, so maybe you will have to eat your words.

    #12 again wonderful points.... Algerians dont make rash challenges??? Did you watch the game against Egypt? They didn't make an UNrash challenge! Clearly you are an Algerian patriot, good for you. I suggest that you go to the bookmakers and place ALL your money and your house on Algeria to beat England and progress - you will get wonderful odds and become a VERY rich man. Good luck to you!

    Piers, Mexico and Uruguay aren't a tough draw. EVERYONE is ranked above South Africa, so clearly by that definition, they are doomed! A tough draw would have seen them with USA and Chile

    Finally, good luck to the African nations. I truly want to see them prosper at this World Cup. If they are as good as some are making out they are, then it wont matter who they face. If they aren't then sadly they will be found out. Personally i cant see one of them progressing past the 2nd round

  • Comment number 15.

    The problem with African teams is that they are always going to be drawn in pot 3, unless they are one of the seeded teams. They are never going to make that pot unless they start making it to the knockout rounds. It's a similar problem to the British teams (apart from England) in qualifing for the world cup or euro's. They are always in the third pot and so have to play against two other better teams.

    I think the only way the African teams will get further is either have a fantastic 4 years between the world cups remaining unbeaten and winning all their friendlies againt european teams, e.g so their raning goes up, or the other hope is that they get a kind draw, but do to the way the draw is main, they are always going to play against two european teams with one of these being a top seed

  • Comment number 16.

    The fact is that England is made up of average players who does not pocess the ability to come up with the extra-ordinary needed to win anything huge.

    Average players? Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are 2 of the best midfielders in the world, Wayne Rooney is one of the best strikers in the world, Ashley Cole is one of the best left back and John Terry is one of the best centre backs in the world. Average players? All 5 of those would walk into almost any team in the world!

    There will not be an African team win the world cup. I hate to be the one to say it, but it simply will not happen. Ivory Coast, considered the biggest threat have been written off after drawing porutgal and brazil. How on earth were they expected to win it if they are incapable of beating those 2?

    Cameroon will hopefully mount a challenge, however I can't see them getting past the semi finals, if they get a decent draw in the quarters, but I highly doubt any of the other african nations even make it that far.

  • Comment number 17.

    they should end the draw - then maybe brazil, spain, italy and germany in a group of death and holland, argentina, england and france in a group of death with north korea, honduras, new zealand and slovakia in a group. interesting.
    it is not the africans who are complaining
    i agree
    you are joking.
    gerrard is not world class when playing for england, terry is not world class full stop and rooney must now prove that the hype is justified. the boy needs to do it against big boys for once. a cole, rio and lamps are quality.
    as english fans we need to support our team but be realistic. at the moment brazil, spain and holland are ahead of the rest, then germany and finally italy, france, argentina, portugal and england (although our qualification was better than most).
    after this teams like ghana, ivory coast, serbia, australia and a few others can dream.

    as for african teams, a tough draw but quality wise ivory coast has enough quality to hurt portugal, beat north korea and give brazil a game.
    ghana have the quality to match serbia and australia, and hurt germany but may need luck.
    good luck to all of them.
    they wont win this year but they have finally have enough world class players who play in the champions league every season. this means they are getting closer.
    players like: essien, muntari, appiah, drogba, eboue, kalou, alex song, makoun, adebayor, kolo toure, yaya toure, kanoute, sissoko m diarra. (not to mention those that the french take)

  • Comment number 18.

    I intend to make my prediction that Ghana will make the final there I've done it. However can someone tell me how England have been made 3rd favourites? I can think of 6-7 other teams better than them. Also another prediction England will lose to Algeria, why because THE PLAYERS will underestimate them. USA will qualify for the next round if they play like they did in Confed cup. It should be an interesting World Cup for everyone and I can't wait to listen to the commentators moaning about the vuvu's lol

  • Comment number 19.

    In any world cup tournament there is always going to be a surprise team,and I feel the African teams have the best chance to surprise a lot of teams based on the facts that the tournament is being played on their continent.
    I believe a lot of top teams will be in for a rude awakening when this tournament starts,England inclusive.The weather and altitude are going to be great factors during this world cup.
    The English press remind me a lot about the Scottish press and fans prior to the 1978 world cup in Argentina and we all know what happened to the Scots at that tournament.
    There is going to be a lot of up setting of the apple cart during this tournament despite the unfair seeding system.African teams should not complain about whatever groups they find themselves in,because to be the best you have to beat the best.
    See you when the tournament is over.

  • Comment number 20.

    What really has England achieved in world football. They are undeserved seeds and this will show in the group stages. I'll bet that Algeria will top the group, The second spot is between Englsd and the US who like englad also thinks too higly of themselves. England and the US are average soccer nations. The only have the most unfortunate illusion of a media hype. I guess thats the only reason Beckam showed up at the draw. This to me was the only downside of the whole show. There was no place up there for Beckham. This is just another example of FIFA at its best, pleasing the Europeans. Spain and Italy are real soccer giants in europe and Although Spain are perinnial underacheiver, they play quality soccer. Cant say that about England. Take away the foreing players and the money, and the EPL will be ordinary, comparable to the premier leauge in Ghana and the Congo or even worse. WAKE ENGLAND!!! YOU LIKE TO DREAM. ITS DAYLIGHT BROS!!!!!!! BRAZIL, ITALY, SPAIN, ARGE, CAMEROUN, GHANA, IVORY COAST equalreal contenders. ACCEPT WHO YOU ARE ENGLISH FANS. BECHAM, ROONEY, OWEN are all hyped. Gerald and Teryy are really good though.

  • Comment number 21.

    England have got to the past two quarter finals of the wc, which is proof enough that they are a top eight seed, and deserve to be seeded. On top of that they were the most successful European team in qualifying so can all the anti-English haters please give up it's rather pathetic. Do I think England will win, no but they have every chance, just look at Italy last time round. All this talk of being able to name 7-8 teams better than England is just not true.I think too many people base they're evaluations of these teams on previous reputations. If naming these teams better than England I presume they would be Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Germany, Italy, France, Portugal and Holland. That is laughable really. of course Brazil and Spain are much better sides but Argentina barely qualified and we won our last two matches against them. Germany are a decent side but we really controlled the friendly against them. Italy and Holland I would say are on par with us. I doubt many Portugal or France fans would be convinced that they are a better side than us. I know we're not likely to win it but I do see us at least making the semis. The team is finally gelling together and unarguably possess some of the best players in the world. Thankfully we have Capello in charge as well who will hopefully help keep our concentration and confidence levels high.

    I love the African teams they are spirited and exciting to watch. But part of the reason they are exciting to watch is their defensive frailties. I reckon that one of Ghana or IC will make it to at least the 2nd round and that Cameroon will also have a good run. Unfortunately I doubt that any will make it past the quarters, but this in itself would be an achievement for the vast majority of teams.

    Finally 20. your comment:BECHAM, ROONEY, OWEN are all hyped. This is absurd, no England fans are hyping Owen he is unlikely to make the squad, as for Beckham the same applies but he is still a useful squad player who seems very likely to make the cut. And to suggest that Rooney is all hype is pretty stupid. You can't watch many Man Utd games. Sure he may not be as prolific a scorer as other English strikers, say Bent and Defoe, but he easily could its just he plays such a diverse role and I would bet is the most consistent deliver of assists as a striker in Europe. The guy gave united their competitive drive back and never gives up. is former for England finally reached the heights of his club form in the qualifying campaign I cn't remember how many goals he scored but he was certainly near the top of the scoring charts in European qualifying.

  • Comment number 22.

    34. At 00:59am on 05 Dec 2009, you wrote:
    For my thoughts on the draw alone, the group draw is favourable but by no means a guarantee of nine points at the end. The US will be fired up by playing England especially first up, but our record against the other teams will determine top spot. We also have a fantastic opportunity to get to the semi-finals, as avoiding Brazil, Spain, Italy and Netherlands before then gives us the potential to build the confidence and rhythm for any realistic challenge.

    The team however is the main worry for me, with our lack of ability to retain the ball and having the range of passing required to create clear scoring chances in winning, if/when required against any of those four teams above. The friendly results we've had against these top sides, regardless of any missing players shows we can't be considered in the same breath.

    Technically our players cannot be compared against the very best when viewed purely in international competition, I feel they only shine consistently with their club colleagues around them. Yes we have some great individuals but our team isn't consistent and settled enough to mount the type of challenge we need. If only Capello had more time with this team, as I don't see the quality of players coming through after 2010 to suggest we can realistically challenge for a long time!

  • Comment number 23.

    This is the most bizzare post i have ever seen. What makes Portugal suddenly better than Ivory Coast.. and why is Brazil better than Ivory Coast... The reason Group G is the group of death is because Ivory Coast is in there... They have really talented players.. did you see them play Germany a couple of weeks ago without Drogba... they controlled long stretch of the game.. and they have beside Drogba that Seydou Doumbia and Gervinho.. Romaric and Zokora and Yaya Toure.. I sincerely think that Portugal is not better than Ivory Coast.. as for Brazil they rely on the contra atttack but the Ivory Coast team is physically strong and if Brazil let them play in order to contra attack.. Brazil may be surprised... I believe that the Ivory Coast team is capable of winning against any team in the competition..

    In fact it is great for them to play Brazil at the group stage.. got to play the best if you believe you are the best.. they are not complaining.. and i am sure they are relishing the challenge

  • Comment number 24.

    Hmmm. I love the way the media rates Nigeria's chances. For the first time the Nigerian team going into a major tournament are considered as minnows from Africa. The Nigerian team finished with best statistical record in qualifying, not loosing a game, conceding 6 and scoring 20 in 12 games. A makeshift version of the team went as far ahead as beating France in a friendly a few months ago. This is despite the fact that key strikers Martins and Yakubu have had long spells of injury during qualifying. Coupled with the fact that young players from the Olympics silver winning team have been drafted into the A team, these are promising times for the national team.
    Just as well, the Nigerian national team's greatest undoing has been over confidence (and greatest asset) and this under rating might just turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
    Finally, I think a clear assessment of the chances of African is best left after the nations cup, which is just around the corner. Then we can separate genuine threats from media hype.

  • Comment number 25.

    It's not *that* bad - Ivory Coast got very unlucky again, but if they are as good as we all say they are then they need to at least be able to beat Portugal, who aren't exactly red-hot, harsh, but not the whole of Africa

    Cameroon have a very good chance of going through, ok there's nothing there to brush aside - but there are only a couple of 'easy' teams out there - namely north korea and new zealand - and the Ivorians got one of them anyway! But Cameroon are obvious favourites for second

    Algeria and Ghana got fair groups, a team ranked 28th and 37th are hardly likely to face teams much worse than them - the US wasn't the nicest from pot 2, but Ghana are in a middling, if evenly-matched group, I'd rather that than face a Portugal or France as well

    South Africa had no chance of a good group - unlucky with France but you'd expect even Slovenia to put them to the sword - all the european teams had to win decent matches to get here, they didn't get one of the two weakest sides, but nor did most of us - I'd take Uruguay and Mexico

  • Comment number 26.

    Cant wait for Kickooff!!. I hope Ghana gets to meet Englad in the 1/16th. Hopefully, this bring an end to the unnecessary hype of english players. They are just not good enough. Period.

  • Comment number 27.

    I am a little confused that many people Ghana and Ivory Coast as the teams that will Shine for Africa. Fair enough Ivory Coast, but Ghana? Probably because people in England know that Essien is arguable the best midfielder in the world? Unfortunately besides Essien there is not much else. Probably Suleiman Muntari? Or people are confusing the junior side that won the world cup wih the senior side??
    Anyway, Cameroon and Nigeria will be the big Arican sides. They have experience, are dynamic, use thie physical strength well and are well balanced generally. I think that Cameroon will reach the 1/4 finals, with Eto'o top African scorer with 4 goals. I don't think that Drogba will explode, sorry fans - reason is that he either scores goals or does nothing. Without the Chelsea midfield he will be doing nothing most of the time. Just watch the ACN and you will see the 'other' Drogba..

  • Comment number 28.

    Oh, for gods sake. Can't a team of 'superstars' be drawn against a decent team before the final itself? We (Wales) had to play Germany and Russia, and probably beat them, to even get to the World Cup. The same thing happens every competition -we don't qualify so we get a tough group, so we don't qualify. Get rid of seeding and stop favouring 'Big' teams. (For the qualifying that may mean fewer, larger groups with say top 3 to qualify, but so be it. (South American teams seem to cope with the extra games) If they're so good, they'll still get through.

  • Comment number 29.

    #14 - "If English players are so poor, then do a search of the most represented nation in Champions League Finals over the last 6 years. You will find ENGLISH players come top."

    English CLUBS have been well-represented, but I don't think too many English PLAYERS represented them.

  • Comment number 30.

    Grrr! I'm NOT a new member!!! Why am I being pre-moderated??

  • Comment number 31.

    Oakey, if you arent good enough to beat Russia and Germany then you dont deserve to be there. Simple as that. If your team gets better then finally YOU will be seeded on merit. Then you get the benefits. Why should poor teams get a favoured draw? If you cant beat Russia - who didnt even make the WC - you lost home and away! - then what chance would you have? None.

  • Comment number 32.

    28 oakey1979 wrote:

    Oh, for gods sake. Can't a team of 'superstars' be drawn against a decent team before the final itself? We (Wales) had to play Germany and Russia, and probably beat them, to even get to the World Cup. The same thing happens every competition -we don't qualify so we get a tough group, so we don't qualify. Get rid of seeding and stop favouring 'Big' teams. (For the qualifying that may mean fewer, larger groups with say top 3 to qualify, but so be it. (South American teams seem to cope with the extra games) If they're so good, they'll still get through.


    I can understand your point - but there is plenty to prove that teams like Wales can't handle it, and if qualification weren't this way they would be being handed a place, much like new zealand have been

    for example in the 2010 qualifiers, England were not seeded - had to beat Croatia and Ukraine - not a million miles away from Germany/Russia - but they came top, Wales came fourth behind Finland

    Serbia weren't seeded, France were - Serbia comfortably took the group

    Denmark weren't seeded, nor were Switzerland (3rd pot), nor Slovakia (4th pot) - all group winners

    The Czechs and the Croats, both top seeds, didn't even make the play-offs

    Ireland made the play-offs, unseeded, as did Bosnia, Slovenia even got into the world cup despite being in the second-to-last group, one below Wales (and they even beat Russia for you), Slovakia were also in Wales' pot and won their group

    at world cups:

    in 2006 - Portugal got to the semis without a seed, Switzerland topped their group

    in 2002 - England got through to the quarters without a seed, taking down 'big' team Argentina, Turkey got to the semis, the US got to the quarters

    also, Denmark, Sweden and Mexico all won their groups, and Ireland got through the group, while France were knocked out in round 1 by Senegal and Denmark

    It is not so much about handing big teams a place, as ensuring a bit of fairness - were Spain, Germany, Italy and Portugal in a group where only two could qualify it would mean only two of those top ten sides could go, while a group featuring wales, macedonia, cyprus, andorra etc would send two weak sides who had faced no decent competition - and if a 'big' team (say, England) got an incredibly easy group there'd be outrage, it'd be a farce

    While it's true seeding can have a negative effect and maintain the status quo, and some seeds seem rather unfair, there has to be a balance - when only 4 of the 9 european seeds won their groups, and Europe is sending teams from as low down as the second-to-last pot I think it's clear that there's a fair chance for all concerned (and considering Wales lost to Finland...twice, I don't think there's a huge case for you)

  • Comment number 33.

    This is the unoffcial raking of FANS thfat will be most disappointed in S. Africa- ENGLAND, GERMANY, PORTUGAL, USA, SERBIA NIGERIA........ These countries currently leaving on hypes particularly ENGLAND for no apparent reason. The english media (and fans) are just a disservice to the national team, piling on unnecessary pressure on very averaged players. You guys will be disappointed if you dont face reality!!!!!

  • Comment number 34.

    #29 DO A SEARCH!!! Do you understand English? If so, search the FACTS, English players are the most represented nation (by percentage of appearances) of ANY nation in the Champions League. Maybe you dont want to believe FACTS, but thats what they are. I think my original post was quite clear, when i wrote ENGLISH PLAYERS - not clubs but PLAYERS. Go luckj and you can come back and apologise - thanks.

    auscomplex - clearly you have a VERy big complaex. Your ramblings are utter trash. So Nigeria, Serbia, USA have huge ambitions? Idiot

    Maybe England will fall flat on their face, but this IS the best chance England will ever have of winning a World Cup. They have (compared to Spain or Brazil) a very easy half. So of course England fans should be optimistic - so should fans of ANY team in the top half - because the top half is incredibly weak. Personally i think Germany will reach the final - its what they do - ie 2002 dreadful team, but great draw and know how to beat average teams. England will probably implode as usual, but we will never have a better chance

  • Comment number 35.

    #29 - like i said in the original post - IN THE LAST 6 YEARS

  • Comment number 36.

    Time to be shot now.

    I cant see for the life of me why Africa has 5 automatic qualifiers. Hmmm Nothing to do with Fifa congressional voting! South America,Asia,Oceania,Concacaf and even Europe has to make do with places decided by Play offs so why not Africa?

    Aside from two quarter final appearances (Cameroon 1990 because of comical goalkeeping by Higuita, and Senegal 2002 courtesy of a glaring miss by Morales of Uruguay and some genorous refereeing decisions) what has an African team done?

    Fact are facts im afraid,even Concacaf has had more quarter finalists (Mexico 70 and 86, USA 2002). Asia had a semi finalist in 2002 but all have less qualifying places than Africa.

    The way the draw has worked out i can only see Cameroon getting through the group stage. Lets hope common sense prevails in 2014 and the number of places for Africa reduces.

  • Comment number 37.

    I'm not sure I go with the 'unlucky' argument here. Teams with 4 or 5 good players have been mentioned. Are they unlucky or just not good enough as an 11 man team, or squad, to progress?.
    Maybe, just maybe, if the African nations want to move forward, they should dump their African nations competitions (they play each other anyway in World Cup qualifiers) in favour of higher profile friendly matches. This will both let the teams know the level of competition they will be up against in major tournaments and possibly increase their individual rankings once they have become used to the standard required. Perhaps this should have been sorted 5 years ago so threir players are now 'battle hardened'.
    I don't think the individual performances of the African nations are as important as the profile it will give to the continent in the future.

  • Comment number 38.

    What really has England achieved in world football. They are undeserved seeds and this will show in the group stages. I'll bet that Algeria will top the group, The second spot is between Englsd and the US who like englad also thinks too higly of themselves. England and the US are average soccer nations. The only have the most unfortunate illusion of a media hype.

    What have England achieved in World football? Aside from practically inventing the game as we know it, we've won the world cup once, which is more than Algeria, USA and even Spain can claim to have done. It makes us among 7 teams to have won it, so there we deserve to be top 8 seeds. In the past 2 world cups we've made the last 8, again something that surely makes us a top 8 seed, and we also had one of the best qualifying campaigns, another thing to support our seeded status. Please tell me on what grounds we don't deserve to be seeded?

    Algeria will not top the group, they are probably a good team, however these claims are ridiculous. What Algerian players ever feature in the champions league last 16? Clearly not many are good enough to make Europes Elite clubs, whilst England have the likes of Gerrard, Rooney, Terry, Ferdinand, Lampard, A. Cole, J. Cole and Carrick playing first team football at clubs that regularly reach the champions league last 16 (obviously Liverpool are an exception this year) The US are an average footballing nation, but England are certainly top 8 material, and I think are now considered top 3 because the likes of the lack of balance in the Dutch and Argentina sides along with the Italians and French fading and Portugal and Germany being on a similar level to us, only Spain and Brazil are clear favourites.

    The media do often hype us up more than we deserve, however that does not at all make us unworthy of being seeded.

    So after all the trash you've spouted, you go put all you own on Algeria finishing above England in that group, and I'll put all I do on England finishing above the Algerians and we'll see who still has a home next winter.

  • Comment number 39.

    There you go Scott Danns. A typicall English fan living in the shadows of the CL and the EPL that thrives on foreign presence. With the exception of Liverpool (and Gerald), English teams have won the CL on the strength of foreign players. To disregard Algeria because they dont have elite players in the CL is just absurd. The unfortunate thing is that African have not cherished their own otherwise they'll realize that their local base players are better than those who play in the EPL with very very few exceptions, and I mean very very few!!!. Gerald and Terry and maybe A. cole are good player. But rooney and the rest of the cohort are just overated and they'll reamin extremely good ONLY in the europe. Outside europe, they'll always underachieve. Only FIFA and england believe that the english are worthy top 8. GET READY FOR THE GREATEST UPSET. Maybe not even an upset because they are just not good. GO BRAZIL , SPAIN, ITALY & AFRICA. CREDIT MUST BE EARNED NOT MEDIA DRIVEN

  • Comment number 40.

    27. At 10:05am on 06 Dec 2009, fabulousRedsReds wrote:

    I am a little confused that many people Ghana and Ivory Coast as the teams that will Shine for Africa. Fair enough Ivory Coast, but Ghana? Probably because people in England know that Essien is arguable the best midfielder in the world? Unfortunately besides Essien there is not much else. Probably Suleiman Muntari? Or people are confusing the junior side that won the world cup wih the senior side??
    Anyway, Cameroon and Nigeria will be the big Arican sides. They have experience, are dynamic, use thie physical strength well and are well balanced generally. I think that Cameroon will reach the 1/4 finals, with Eto'o top African scorer with 4 goals. I don't think that Drogba will explode, sorry fans - reason is that he either scores goals or does nothing. Without the Chelsea midfield he will be doing nothing most of the time. Just watch the ACN and you will see the 'other' Drogba..


    i'd just like to take a moment to defend the African Nations that you've just insulted. they have as much of a chance as anyone else, that's football...did anyone predict Liverpool going out of the champions league in the group stage? no but it still happened. And with the comments on Drogba, i couldn't disagree more. when he's not scoring them, he's busy creating them for everyone else. Drogba scores bag full's of goals for the Ivory Coast, he has scored 41 goals in 60 games, that a goal/game ratio of 1.46! which is amazing by any striker's standards. so fabulousRedsReds, make sure you pay close attention to the ACN and to the WC and you'll see the same Didier Drogba for them as the one that plays for Chelsea.

  • Comment number 41.

    As mentioned before by Phil, English players are the most represented nationality of players in the champions league in the last 6 years. The champions league is the worlds premier club competetion and its biggest winning influence over the last 6 years is English players, if Phil is correct (which he seems confident enough). How is that being reliant on foreigners to boost our image?

    And I see you chose to ignore my question about how we don't deserve to be seeded. England are a deserved seed. I'm not saying we're going to win, or we're the best, but we are top 8, fact. You're clearly just anti-english and calling us bad purely on the basis of the high presence of foreign players in the domestic leagues. Tell me, is ignorance really bliss?

  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 43.

    Calm down rob_LFC_fairbairn. God will take care of all of us when the time is right. You, Drogba and myself will all be gone someday. No need to rush at all. This is a soccer forum. You may disagree but that should not spell war.

  • Comment number 44.

    Africa had only 4 slots until it was changed to 5 recently. In my mind these 5 representatives of Africa have much better teams than two thirds of European teams going to the world. Apart from England, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Italy and France none of the other teams that fill the slots add excitement , flair or pose a consistent threat at the world cup and just make up numbers. If you are aggrieved that your team did not qualify, then you are barking at the wrong tree here.

  • Comment number 45.

    England don't deserve to be among World Cup favourites, says Luis Figo

    Luis Figo displayed refreshing candour at the World Cup draw, eschewing the usual banal politeness by dismissing England as favourites for the World Cup.

    ‘Spain, Brazil and Argentina are the teams who have the experience at this level and perhaps there will be a surprise from Africa, because they’re competing at home,’ said the former World Player of the Year and captain of the Portugal team who knocked England out of the 2006 World Cup finals.

    ‘I don’t think the Spain team are missing much. There’s never a perfect team but they’re playing so well. England are not among the favourites as they weren’t at the Euros in 2008. would put them on the same level as Portugal.’

    Source- Daily Mail at

  • Comment number 46.

    African teams are at par with European teams. What more can point to this than the parformance of the African players in all the European leagues. African players are as good as the best players in any part of the world. That Africa is allowed only 5 places while Europe has as much as 16 is an injustice. FIFA should organise a tournament between UEFA and CAF to know the true strength of African football versus European football and referees should be chosen from neutral continents. After all the French teams are mostly with African origin. The English team has Carlton Cole and Gabriel Agbonlahon with Nigerian origin. That only 5 teams are allowed to represent Africa prevents other good African teams good enough to the play at the world cup from coming. Egypt beat world cup holder Italy in the Confederation cup shows how good Egypt is.

    England at the moment cannot beat Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroun. No European team has beat Nigeria recently. In 2002, England with all the Premier league star players played a 0-0 draw with youthful inexperience Nigerian side without the stars on Nigerian football. If Nigeria had used their main team at the world cup, they would have beaten England. Recently, a reserved Nigerian team beat French main team 1-0 in Paris, beat Scotland 3-0 last year.

    Why do the English media/people think England has a better chance at the world cup than the African teams. Are English players better than the Ivorian players with Drogba, Yaya and Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Ebue, Didier Zokora, Aruna Didane, and all those in the French league. Nigeria has Yakuba (everton) Martins (Wolfburg) Mikel (Chelsea) Taiwo (Marsseile), Yobo (Everton), Odimingwe (Sparta Moscow) Ogbuke (Hoffenheim, Germany, Kanu (Portsmout) Shittu (Bolton) Etuhu (Fulham)Anechebe (Everton)Uche (Zaragoza) etc. How many English players are good enough to play outside the EPL? How many English players are good enough to play in Spain or Italy (the best leagues in the world where the world Players of the year and European players of the year are selected). How many English players are good enough to play in Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Man U ( The best temans in EPL)? That tells that English players are average like some of their African counterparts.
    The African teams have the same chance to lift the cup just like any other European or South American team. We hope the referees would be good enough to allow the best sides to win.

  • Comment number 47.

    You've really got to pity the African teams, this was to be the showcase of African football their oppurtunity to live up to that infamous Pele prophecy. Sadly it appears that the footballing God were looking the other way when Miss Theron made the draw.

    As much as I'd like to see an African team in the final, I just can't see it happening. As Piers pointed out the Golden boys of Africa the "Ivory Coast" have really been drawn in an awful group not quite as bad as in 2006 but still... For Drogba and co it really is a sprint, first one out of the blocks in the opening game qualifies.

    With regards to SA this was their chance I know their teams not up too much by international standards but they have a World Class manager and an extra 3 months to gel as a team, this was a chance for them to make it to next round, FIFA gave them a little push as they always do by seeding the host. Of all the possible connotations they draw the 2006 finalists a power-house of football France, Two-times winners Uruguay & Mexico who always seem to bully their way out of the group stages one way or another.

    For me Africas best hopes do indeed lie in Mr Eto & co lets see if Le Guens team can deliver on the biggest stage of all.

    Nonetheless for an African team to make the quarter finals or the semis would be quite some feat for in the process of so they'd have to take the scalp of some European or South American powerhouse and as much as I'd love to see it happen I just can't, in my opinion Pele will have to wait at least another 4 years...

  • Comment number 48.

    44 and 46.

    The facts are the facts im afraid. Apart from Oceania, Africa has the worst record in World Cup Football. Fact!
    This is the reason i dont see any merit on 5 automatic qualifiers.

    Far too many false dawns and empty promises, every year we are told "This is Africa's time" it never transpires though.

    Pele sponsored by Mastercard told us an African team would win the world cup by the end of the century. I would say that the USA or Australia have more chance of doing that.

  • Comment number 49.

    Apart from a deserved early world cup win to Uruguay, the main threat outside Europe has always been Brazil and Argentina.

    Greece turned counter-attack into an art form to grab Euro 2004 and left little doubt that the gap between the European powerhouses and the minor powers has contracted.

    Europe does not perform as well, historically, outside its borders. Therefore, if an African team can equal or better the Greek performance, which I think is feasible, then Europe can be conquered by Africa.

    The real question then becomes; can they conquer the South Americans ?

    If home ground advantage is to count, which is almost a given in world football, then 2010 represents the real chance of an imminent changing of the guard.

    The Africans have a flair and movement second to none which generates pure excitement. If they can discipline their natural ability to repel and then unlock the opposition, the Cup is theirs.

    This would not only be huge for football. It could be the economic trigger that is sorely required to seriously combat inequalities in the poorest regions on our planet.

  • Comment number 50.

    It'd be very interesting to see if home ground does do anything for the team ranked 86th in the world

    What I don't get is why is it considered 'home' for the whole of Africa by some people - none of the bigger african nations are anywhere near south africa, believe me when it's in France or Germany we don't think we're on home ground

  • Comment number 51.

    @ auscomplex: i know i know, i just hate the man so much...

  • Comment number 52.

    Are English players better than the Ivorian players with Drogba, Yaya and Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Ebue, Didier Zokora, Aruna Didane, and all those in the French league. Nigeria has Yakuba (everton) Martins (Wolfburg) Mikel (Chelsea) Taiwo (Marsseile), Yobo (Everton), Odimingwe (Sparta Moscow) Ogbuke (Hoffenheim, Germany, Kanu (Portsmout) Shittu (Bolton) Etuhu (Fulham)Anechebe (Everton)Uche (Zaragoza) etc. How many English players are good enough to play outside the EPL? How many English players are good enough to play in Spain or Italy (the best leagues in the world where the world Players of the year and European players of the year are selected). How many English players are good enough to play in Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Man U ( The best temans in EPL)? That tells that English players are average like some of their African counterparts.

    Dennis, I cant understand alot of these comments. Granted some of the African teams have some great players, notably Ivory Coast as you mentioned who play for soem big clubs. You then go on to list players Kanu (Portsmout) Shittu (Bolton) Etuhu (Fulham)Anechebe, adn your asking why people think englands players are better? Well because the majority of them play for Man U, Chelsea, Liverpool etc who are obviously alot better than Bolton, Fulham and Portsmouth, so you seemed to have answered your own question there.

    The Italian league better than the English league? I don't think many people would be agreeing with you on that. I personally feel the English league is the strongest but I understand the argument that the Spanish league is stronger, but the Italian league no way. How do you explain the strength of English teams in the champions league in recent years if you think it is an inferior league?

    And you ask: How many English players are good enough to play in Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Man U ( The best temans in EPL)?

    Cole A. (Chelsea) Terry (Chelsea) Ferdinand (Man U) Johnson (Liverpool) lampard (Chelsea) Gerrard (Liverpool) Walcott (Arsenal) Cole J (Chelsea) Rooney (Man U)

    So pretty much the whole team!!!!

  • Comment number 53.

    Also have to say some of the comments about Algeria seem fanciful to say the least. Ok People in England may have a tendacy to overrate their own team, and yes African teams should not be underestimated, but Algeria to win the group? Come on. Talk about people being disrespectful to the African teams, thats disrespectful to a team that had an excellent qualifying campaign and a USA team thats vastly improved in recent years, proving that by beating Spain in the confederations cup.

  • Comment number 54.

    #39 you really are simple. Is Gerrard the only Englsih player to help get an English club to the Champions League Final? What about Man Utds winning squad in 2008 - Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Owen Hargreaves, Watne Rooney, Paul Scholes i suppose these guys just dont exist in your little fantasy World? The same players again in 2009 - get the picture? What about Ashley Cole, Joe Cole at Chelsea? Gerrard, Carragher at Liverpool - are you getting the drift of things? Seriously do some research rather than spouting utter rubbish. I have FACTS, you have lies and nonsense

    #44 African teams have only ever been there to make up the numbers. Cant tackle, cant defend, never progressed past a quarter final. That wont change this WC either.

    #45 Luis Figo's opinion counts for squat. If he thinks Argentina are third favourites on current form, team and manager then he isn't very bright. They scraped through qualifying and most people in the country have little faith in Diego as coach.The only reason Argentina can be classed as a good bet to reach the final (same as England) is due to the easy draw.

    #46 There is a difference between individuals and teams. Africa has great individuals but no country from the nation has EVER had a great team. History and FACTS prove that. How many WC's have European teams won? How many have African teams won? Where are your FACTS?

    Basically those saying Africa have as much chance as a European team or South American team are deluded. There are rankings, ther is history and there is current form that all show these comments to be lies. Try sticking to the FACTS people, then maybe we can take your points seriously!

  • Comment number 55.

    Phil, if this is what you call research , then I am sorry. This is the answer the the overrated names that you mention: LETS HOW THEY PROGRESS THOURGH THE CL WITHOUT C RONALDO OR WITHOUT ANOTHER FOREIGN INTERVENTION. Rio FER, is simple no defender at all who get more hype than S amyy Kuffour in his days. Ashely cole is no better player than John Pantsil of Fuhlam. Get the picture Phil? All the top clubs in the EPL are thriving on foreign presence. Research is also about synthesis Phil. You need to do more of that and stop hyping your players. People in england think Rooney is better than Drogba, or lampard better than Essien. Jokes all over. because of discrimination in soccer (partly because of English media) Etoo never won the Best player even though has on numerous occassion done more than C Ronaldo and messi. This what is stupid phil, not the truths that I am pointing out.

  • Comment number 56.

    I understand it might seem strange for a non-African to understand why all African countries will view SA as home. That is how we view ourselves and indeed how the rest of the world views us: Africans first then indivudual country. So rest of the world beware! It will be home. Look at France winning '98, were they the best team? That and many other examples show that it does not hurt to play at home.

  • Comment number 57.

    #55 I have to say that I dont like the way phil is putting his point across i.e quite aggressively and tinged with arrogance, and I don't agree with everything he is saying, however I have to say I think he has got you on this one. When someone says that John Pantsil is as good as Ashley Cole, its quite hard to take that seriously. Do you watch football? As an arsenal fan im not exactly enamoured with Ashley Cole but I think most people generally accept he is one of the best left backs in the world. Can you explain to me why John Pantsil does not play for Chelsea or Manchester United, AC Milan or Real Madrid?

    Yes the Premier League is thriving partly due to foreign players and they are an important part of many english clubs. However Phils point that the majority of the players in the finals of the champions league int the last few years were english remains. Im not saying that this means the english players are better than the other nationalities, not at all, but it does show that they have alot of quality players. Would english teams still be as succesful without some of the foreign talent they have had? Probably not, but the point still remains that that teams like Chelsea and Man utd are built on an english spine.

    Your talking about teams progressing through the champions league without foreign intervention but i think thats the same for all nations. Barcelona for example, Eto and Messi are not Spanish. Also I wasn't aware the English Media decides who wins player of the year, that news to me.

    Im not saying that English players are better than other nationalities, there not. All im saying is that Phil has a valid point and that you seem to rate english players alot lower that they deserve. Ashley Cole no better than John Pantsil.......seriously

  • Comment number 58.

    Ted, the only reason John Painstil is not playing for Chelsea or ManU is that he has not been hyped. For a foreign player, you have to be really really good to get into a big club in europe. Contrary, it takes only an average english player to get into manU or arsenal or chelsea because of the hype. Look at how average ManU became following the exit of C ronaldo, or how Mancity suddenly suddenly make claims for a top 4 finsih with the arrival of Adebayor, Tervez etc. That is palyer quality for you. They show it wherever they are called. Wilth less of BBC in south Africa, english football will be conspicuosly exposed. That is almost a guarrantee.

  • Comment number 59.

    I take your point that English players are regularly more hyped in England than they should be. However hype comes for a reason, you have to have some talent for people to talk about you in the first place. I mean come on, are you saying that Ashley Cole is only successful because the media says he is good? You don't think he might be good at football? If John Pantsil was good enough to play for a top team, he would be playing for a top team. Do you think that Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Rafeal Benitez and Carlo Anchelotti just buy players according to who the media say are good? If its an English thing why dont one of the other top teams in the world buy him?

    Are united as good now they lost Ronaldo? No. You say they have become average, you do realise they are second in the league? People talk about Man City being in the top four but there not, they are 6th. Who is saying they are going to come in the top four, the media who are....hyping them , the very thing you are criticising!!

    I would agree that someone like Rooney is hyped, but he is still good! You seem to be saying that all english players are basiclly no good at football and are all just hype? Is that what you think?

    Also i don't know about you, but i don't think most people in england had heard of adebayor or essien before they came here, but they managed to come and be succesful and get the credit they deserve, just like english players that have been succesful deserve credit which you seem unwilling to give them.

    Just to be clear I am basically agreeing with you that English teams have been succesful partly because of foreign players. But you seem to be saying that all the Enlgish players in those teams are rubbish, just hyped. But how did we end up with Chelsea and United in the Champions league final a couple years ago with mostly english players? Surely they would have been knocked out if what your saying is true? Yes foreign players need to be good to make it in the top leagues but so do English players, the ones in the top team are not JUST hype, they are pretrty handy at football too.

  • Comment number 60.

    Ted, to be honest, i like the way you have put your points accross. Agreing and disagree like you did you should be the game. I think you have convinced me that i have been a little too harsh on english players. Hence i take my words back. Thanks

  • Comment number 61.

    Thanks! Well I personally believe if you listen to what someone is saying then they are more likely to listen to what you are saying so that nice to see!

  • Comment number 62.

    This is a disappointingly negative post and some negative comments.

    Why should we 'pity' poor Africans? They have produced great results which shocked major footballing super-powers, such that a win against Brazil wouldn't be such a shock now. Viz:

    Argentina 0-1 Cameroon
    France 0-1 Senegal

    My recollection is that African teams play with total heart and commitment and always surprise people at the World Cup. I think Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria have a great chance of making out of their respective groups. Why do people write them off so soon, it's very patronising to say on one hand they have all these wonderful players but will succumb to Portugal.

    It's as stupid as trying to work out who England will meet in the semis (their WAGs..)

  • Comment number 63.

    "Cameroon 1990 because of comical goalkeeping by Higuita"
    Don't forgot that if it hadn't been for the team's inexperience they would have beaten England in the quarter finals that year. And as far as I know few teams have ever won the World Cup without a fair share of luck. England in 1966 being no exception!

  • Comment number 64.

    the real surprise will be in June. i tired of people writing the African teams of but wait till the seeded teams start loosing their first game or drawing . there will be huge pressure to produce results. Writing off the African teams is good they have nothing to loose. I see Ghana in the semis and topping its group. we wrote history in Egypt we will continue in SA. VIVA Ghana. This is a competition that rubbishes the some of FIFA's ranking.

    Officiating has not been good for African teams in World tournaments. With fair officiating Ivory Coast can beat Brazil any day.

    We all saw what happen to Egypt in the confederations cup.

    USA will beat England and from there onwards the pressure will mount.

    Viva Africa!!!!!!. Viva Ghana!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 65.

    So after all the trash you've spouted, you go put all you own on Algeria finishing above England in that group, and I'll put all I do on England finishing above the Algerians and we'll see who still has a home next winter.

    These are the types of comments that makes it feel more bitter that it should be when, on the day, England lose to teams like Algeria. In football, anything is possible. Look at the West German team that Algeria beat in 1982:

    Schumacher, Briegel, Breitner, Karlheinz Förster, Bernd Förster, Dremmler, Littbarski, Klaus Fischer, Hrubesch, Rummenigge, Magath, Allofs, Matthäus, Manfred Kaltz

    As far I as I know, England have never put out a team of that strength. Probably never had a generation with that talent. But you know what? They got beat by Algeria..

  • Comment number 66.

    63. If Cameroon also hadnt had some "dubious" decisions in their favour throughout 1990 then they wouldnt have even faced England (Argentina, Rumania and Colombia) but i do take your point that inexperience against England proved costly.

    64. With great respect i say this but "meanwhile back in the real world" African teams are lauded every 4 years. At every World cup we are told how well Africa will do and each time its a big fail.

    My point is that Africa has no right to 5 automatic qualifiers when Concacaf 3.5 places and Asia 4.5 places.Both have a better record both in terms of World Cup history and Fifa rankings.

  • Comment number 67.


    In regards to New Zealand 'being handed a place'. We can only beat who FIFA put in front of us. It's shame really because we could end up coming into the World Cup undercooked. But after watching how poor Bahrain were it would have been even worse if they had gone thru. there are really only 2 options for NZ left. Either leave Oceania, like Australia and enter the Asian qualifiers, or for FIFA to enter the top 2 teams from Oceania into the final qualifying pools in Asia.

  • Comment number 68.

    My point is that Africa has no right to 5 automatic qualifiers when Concacaf 3.5 places and Asia 4.5 places.Both have a better record both in terms of World Cup history and Fifa rankings.

    England had Croatia, Russia, Isreal, Macedonia, Andorra and Estonia in thier qualification group for the last European champioships. I think that, if Cameroon, Nigeria or Cote d'ivore were in the same group, at least one of them would have qualified..

  • Comment number 69.

    Point is, if you are a European team, you need to beat Macedonia, Andorra and Estonia home and away; and then draw with Croatia and Russia at home and you qualify for the Euros, which is supposedly tougher than the WC. Then FIFA ranking accords you seeding and protection which should get you to quarters, at least.. That is how footballing history is written. Btw Mexico has qualified more times than I can count. If you ask me, Africa should get 2 more places. Senegal and Egypt are good enough to be there, for example.

  • Comment number 70.

    67 Muggsyd

    oh I know, no offence to New Zealand meant - hardly your fault if Bahrain was all you had to beat to qualify, it's just somewhat of a joke - my point was more that were Wales (a comparable country to NZ, albeit with a few better players) to qualify it would be through a very fortunate draw, much like NZ have - I favour the competitive nature of European qualifiers over the rather ridiculous OFC route, but like I said, that's not your fault for playing what's in front of you

    I think it needs to be reformed - without Australia the OFC is just New Zealand whipping some pacific islands, then getting the 5th best side from Asia, which isn't exactly much - what I'd like to see is the OFC merged with the eastern half of Asia - so Australia, Japan, Korea, NZ would be in a 'pacific ring' group, while Asia could be the middle-east and central Asia - if you look at the world map it's pretty ridiculous that there's no teams qualifying from geographically anywhere between Turkey and Korea, although there would be few decent teams so it'd be between Saudi Arabia, Iran and Bahrain - maybe only give them one or 1.5 berths

  • Comment number 71.


    "These are the types of comments that makes it feel more bitter that it should be when, on the day, England lose to teams like Algeria. In football, anything is possible. Look at the West German team that Algeria beat in 1982:

    As far I as I know, England have never put out a team of that strength. Probably never had a generation with that talent. But you know what? They got beat by Algeria.."

    Of course they can be beaten by Algeria - we've been beaten by Northern Ireland, the point would appear to be that they will win the group, not just beat us - beating the favourites in one game is a little different to taking the whole group

    It depends on the US - if we win that maybe we'll be complacent, although we should be nice and peppy coming down to sea level for the game, but if we lose to Algeria then in all likelihood we'll be tied on three points going into the Slovenia match - Algeria would need to defeat the US, and we'd need to not beat Slovenia

    If we lose to the US in the first game then the pressure will be on, no complacency

  • Comment number 72.

    Phil, I would expect you to know if 5 teams for Africa is fair enough, with teams such as Egypt, Senegal missing. There are lots of very good footballers from Africa who would never make it to the world cup. Reason ebing that they are not from Nigeria, Cameroon which are the super powers of Africa, and they are not from Ivory Coast, Ghana, Senegal, Egypt, Tunisia who are sometimes very good.

    Imagine that George Weah never made it to the word cup. Players lke Kanoute, Diarra etc would never play are the world cup because of the 5 slot for Africa.

    To correct the Injustice, FIFA should organise a tournament between the best 10 European teams and the best 10 African teams and at the end of the tournament, we will see which countries will come top.

    I bet you, England will never beat any sub-saharan African team if we have good officiating. Remember than England needed two questionable penalty award from the ref to win Cameroon in 1990 quarter-finals after Cameroon dominated the game. Remember that Italy needed an extra time penalty to win Nigeria in 1994 second round match after Okocha's Nigerian midfield dominated the entire game.

    FIFA ranking means nothing to the game of football on the pitch. That Africa has not gone beyond quartr finals as compared to Europe is because African slot is very few compared to Europe that makes up half of the competition.

    In the past, African had 1 slot, then 2 slot till 1994, when they had 3 before they had 5 in 2002. When you have a tournament of 5 CAF teams versus 16 UEFA teams, what is the probability of the 5 CAF teams to get to the finals against the 16 UEFA teams. This is simple statistic or maths.

    Infact, FIFA is an European competition that Africans got involved in. When did Africa appeared at the world cup? 1974. When did England win the world cup? 1966.

    Do you still consider England and Uraguay as past holders of the world cup when Africa and Asia were not part of the world cup?

    The world cup to me started from 1974.

  • Comment number 73.

    To settle the issue between ranking and facts of the game of world football between Europe and Africa. Let the UEFA and CAF organise a tournament between European best teams and African best teams. Let CAF and UEFA agree plan a tournament of the best 4 or 8 teams from the UEFA Euro 2012 tournament versus the best 4 or 8 teams of the CAF African Nations cup tournament. Then we can know the ture strenght of African teams as against the European teams.

    Can people truely say Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Senegal will loss to the best European teams. France lost recently to Nigeria 1-0. Scotland lost recently to Nigeria 3-0. Nigeria has beated Greece on every occasion they met. Nigeria beat Spain at the 1998 world cup with all the best players, better than the present squad. Spain was then favourites. Senegal beat France at a time France was very good. Cameroon beat Argentina when they had Maradona and were very good.

    The reason why African teams have not gone beyond the quarter finals is because of the officianting which are mainly against Africans.

    It is only the bald Italian ref who officiated the 1996 finals of the Olympics, between Nigeria and Argentina,that seem to be fair when officiating in dicey games between African teams versus Europe or South America. It is a shame he is retired.

  • Comment number 74.

    @57 Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool has maximum 5 English players playing in any game. Arsenal has more French players and maximum 2 English players playing in any game.

    Chelsea is not built on English spine. Look at Chelsea's games. Chelsea is built on Drogba, Essein, Terry and Cech.

    My question is how many English players are good enough to play in Man U, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal. The few English players that play in Man U are not worth playing at that top level. Rio Ferdinand should be playing in the Division one.

    It takes an African player to be twice as good as an Englsh player before the African can make it in the premiership. The FA stipulates that a non-EU player must have played 75% of his countr's national team game before he can be signed by a premiership team or given work permit.

    If the FA and EU remove the restrictions in employing non-EU players, I bet, most English teams will field 11 non-EU or African players on a matchday. In the French league, there are teams that field 11 players with African roots on a matchday. That is why most French speaking African players can play for France and most French players have African roots.

    The point of this analysis is that anbody who thinks the African teams are not good enough to be at the finals is deluded.

    A point to consider in making this argument is that how many English players have performed well outside the premiership? How many English players play outside the premiership? The few English players, who we consider the best English players went to Spain or Italy and failed to make it. Michael Owen failed at Real. Beckham was average. But, we see where average African players go to Spain, Italy and do well, week in, wek out. Diarra in Real. Eto in Barcelona and Inter Milan. Kanoute in Seville. Yaya Toure in Barcelona.

    If, Obafemi Martins, Yakubu, Yobo, Painstil, Zokora, Etuhu, are in Wolfburg, Everton, Fulham etc. are because they are Africans. If they were Englsih, they would be playing in the big four.

    If we must be fair. There was a certain Okocha who played in Bolton. If Okocha was English, what team would he had played in. I am sure Okocha would have been in Man U.

    If Drogba was English, no body would compare Rooney to Drogba.

    The reason why there are many Africans players in Chelsea was because of Mourinho who believes in the best, no matter where they came from.

    When Scolari chose to change Mourinho's hit men, what faced him?, failure.

    My message is that the African teams and players are as good as any European team and players. Ask Ballack, Zidane, Vierra, Desaily, Lampard, Okocha, Mourinho, Wenger, Messi, Eto, Big Ronaldo, Henry, Figo.

    The world cup is any body's cup. Let us be fair in our assessment.

  • Comment number 75.


    John, you are a real follower of football. I wish Phil would learn something about world football from you before writing in his blog.

    I wonder why BBC emply people without proper knowledge of the game of football to be analyst.

    Uraguay won he world cup in the 30's without African teams competing. England won the world cup in 1966 without African teams. Those tournament should be tagged Europe versus South American tournament. The real World cup started in 1974 where the whole continents were represented.

    England has not won the UEFA Euro tournament for a very long time. I wonder why the English media like to hype the English team or players. The Algerians and Americans are happy that they got England among the Euopean teams, because they fancy their chances against England and believe they will beat England.

    I only pray that England join the African nations in the second round because my ex-wife is Englsih and my son is English. But with the media hype, the English team might be led into false confidence of easy opponents and then crash at first the round of the tournament.

    I will be also praying for my adopted land, the Netherlands, which her football team is far ahead of the Englsih team.

  • Comment number 76.

    "The real world cup started in 1974"

    erm nope wrong, if we base this on African teams competing then it was 1970 with Morocco who were leading West germany until they lost 2-1, got thrashed by Peru but gained an admirable draw against Bulgaria.

    Zaire in 1974...Joke and enough said.

    Africa's real pioneers were Tunisia in 1978 by beating Mexico 3-1 became the first African team to win a World Cup Finals match. They lost an extremely tight game 1-0 to Poland and then went onto hold West Germany 0-0.

    72,73,74 and 75 Dennis.
    "The reason why African teams have not gone beyond the quarter finals is because of the officianting which are mainly against Africans".

    You almost make this sound a conspiracy theory now against Africa but yet you still cant explain why and what Africa has done to get 5 automatic places in the Finals and why they should get more than Asia or Concacaf who both have better records?

    Let all Football fans hope that when only a possible two (Cameroon and Nigeria) qualify for the last 16 that Fifa decides 5 is too many and reduces their places.

    To set the record straight regards Uruguay in 1930. Uruguay were the first and more responsible for integrating African descendents into their Football culture than any other country. Jose Andrade who won a winners medal in 1930 is the best example.

    Before you start to bleat about "Poor hard done by Africa" please make sure your argument is factual.

  • Comment number 77.

    @ 76 Lucifer38.

    You know that you are as good as the next game. Lets accept that the real world cup that represents every continent started in 1970. Tell me why you think Europe should have as much as 13 teams at the world cup. Tell me why you think Great Britain could possible have 4 teams of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England in an International tournament and when it come ot Olympics, it becomes one country of Great Britain.

    You want to know why Africa should have upto 5 teams. Would you say Africa teams have not beaten the best of European teams?

    If FIFA wants to correct the injustice of Europe's world cup over-representation of more than ten team, let it organise a football tournament between the 8 best European teams in Euro 2012 and the best African teams at the CAF nations cup of 2012. That would justify if Europe should keep presenting upto 1 teams and Africa 5.

    We need justice in the world, both at the UN and FIFA.

    That Nigeria and Cameroon both won the Olympics is enough justification that African football is at par with European football.

    If you are being fair, what do you think about officiating in mathces involving African teams? Did you see England versus Cameroon in 1990 last 8 round and Italy versus Nigeria in 1994 last 16 round.

    On a joking side. An African team won the world cup in 1998. Zidane, Vierra, Makelele, Desaily and co won the 1998 world cup with few 2 or 3 Europeans.

  • Comment number 78.

    #55 how can anyone take you seriously when you say John Pantsil is better than Ashley Cole? If that was true, tyhen Pantsil would play for a good team. Good players play for good teams normally. Cole has won how many trophies in the top domestic league in the World? How many has Pantsil won? What you say about Essien and Lampard is also not true. Many English people accept Essien is one of the best midfielders in the World. Both players are pure class. Same goes for Rooney and Drogba, both class players.

    #57 i apologise if i put my point across 'too aggressively' but people on here are just making things up, dont use FACTS and never answer questions, just repeat the same lie. Its frustrating.

    #58 so Pantsil hasn't been bought by a top club because the Sun didnt hype him, so Ferguson, Wenger, Ancelotti and Benitez decided he cant be good enough - because of the sun and the mirror?

    Whats funny is everyone says England fans over hype their team, but Africans over hype their teams even more! Saying Ivory Coast will easily beat Brazil, Ghana of course will finish top of their group, after all Germany have only reached 6 out of the 11 WC finals! Minnows. Algeria are the weakest team from Africa, and England are one of the strongest from Europe. So is it deluded to think England SHOULD beat Algeria? Of course anything can happen in football, but any wise man would not wager their house on an Algerian win.

    #72 Denis, its not just Arfican players who have missed out - what about Ryan Giggs? Mark Hughes? Neville Southall? Eric Cantona? David Ginola? Andrei Arshavin this time around. These are some ive plucked from the top of my head. Im sure there are dozens of World class players never to have played in a World Cup. Thats life! Should we just allow a dreadful team to qualify for the sake of 1 player! Seriously!??!

    And why not have a luck back at those Cameroon vs England penalties. They were penalties. There was nothing 'unlucky' about a player fouling another in the penalty box, who would likely have scored anyway. That Cameroon team was CYNICAL. Claudio Caniggia will tell you that - for those who dont remember search Argentina vs Cameroon Claudio Cannigia and the red card the Cameroon guy got! They were reduced to 9 men!

    Senegal had one good year 2002 - what about since then? They are not good enough. Simple as that. Egypt qualified back in 1990 - since then nothing. They couldnt even beat Algeria. When they won in Cairo their fans were a disgrace. And people talk about English hooligans! Ha, good one. Algerian players and fans were a disgrace in Khartoum. What image did that give of the African nation? A terrible one.

    Ok so to you the WC began in 1974 - how many semi finals have you made since then? NONE. Let the WC begin in whatever year you like, this FACT will never change.

    Denis, if my knowledge is poor, then yours is non existent. The difference is i have FACTS you have fiction.

    If an African player is not good enough to play in 75% of his nations games, then how can he be good enough to play in a top 4 club? Nice logic.

    Basically your 'words of wisdom' are every African is great and suppressed and all English are terrible. Heres an idea why not make your own wonderful African league where all your african players play and it will be the best in the world? Why do you have to move abroad if your own countries are so wonderful and the football is so amazing there? You are deluded. Why do you feel so hard done by? Get over it! Its the same propaganda saying everyones against you, just like you tried to make people believe that the white man invented slavery, even though you were selling black people from trible to tribe LONG before the white man arrived. But dont let a good FACT get in the way of your fiction, will you ;)

  • Comment number 79.

    So there were only 2 or 3 Europeans in Frances WC squad in 1998. Of cause. Where did the "African" players learn football? Most were taught in France. They are French, whether you like it or not. Otherwise they would have played for their 'own countries' if they were so proud to have been from that nation!

    And No african teams have won the WC, so stop bringing up games where you LOST to European teams but at least it was a close game! Or friendly games where you beat a Scotland reserve side! Its laughable.

    As for the Olympics, African nations dont even enter players in the correct age group - YOU CHEAT! You dont have records of dates of birth for some of the players, or they have their births registered late. So U20 World Cup you have players who are 23, 24, 25 years old playing. No wonder you do well in these! By the time you have to play with adults, you dont have the physical advantage anymore, thus you lose.

    No one is debating Africa has produced some of the Worlds best players BUT Africa has NEVER produced one of the Worlds best TEAMS.

  • Comment number 80.

    @ 78.
    Phil, if we go back to simple statistic, what is the propability of an African team out of 5 African representatives to make it to the finals against the probability of an European team out of about 13 European representatives to make it to the finals.

    An African team has never one the cup and European teams have won the cup. Reason, All the world cups won by European teams were held in the European continent. Have Europe won any cup outside Europe?

    Africa had 1 team, then 2 until 1994 when they had 3.

    I still thnk that FIFA world cup tournament is a tournament between Europe and South America. Africa is only attending as people invited to partake and not given the chance by FIFA and refs to go far.

    FIFA world cup is an enlargement of UEFA Euro competition. EUFA and CAF organise a tournament between the best 8 European teams and between the best 8 African teams and see who would go top the chart. That France won a world cup made up mostly f layers with African origin says alot about Africa not being able to win the world cup.

    Maybe, if Nigeria and Cameroun teams that have played in past world cups had competed as European teams, they would have won the world cup long before now.

    Senegal is good enough to play at the world cup. If Senegal played to qualify for the world cup in any of the European qualifying group, they would have qualified for the world cup. The reason you have not heard of Senegal is because African teams are too good.

    Let us imagine Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Senegal, Mali competing for world cup qualification under the UEFA, they world have qualified in any of the groups, with ease.

    You must stop with your Euro-centric views and concentrate on matters of football. Forget slavery here and concentrate on football, because the Americans through Obama has shown the positive contribution of Africans to the US. Your hospitals in England would tell you the positive contributions of African Doctors to the UK healthcare. The French football will tell you about African contribution to the French. What else would you say of the European who go about the world making problems and colonising people. Let us discuss football and why I think African teams are as good as their European counterparts.

    Now that the world cup will be played in different continents after every 4 years, let us see how many times Europe will win it, considering that they have only won the cup only when Europe hosted.

    Talking about soccer holiganism. Which soccer fans are more disgraceful to soccer holiganism than the English. That is why the Italian police is best at dealing with English holiganism.

  • Comment number 81.

    Zidane - BORN Marseille, France JUST TO CLARIFY!

    2 DF Vincent Candela 24 Oct 1973 Bedarieux, France
    3 DF Bixente Lizarazu 09 Dec 1969 Saint-Jean-de- Luz, France
    5 DF Laurent Blanc 19 Nov 1965 Ales, France
    6 MD Youri Djorkaeff 09 Mar 1968 Lyon, France
    7 MD Didier Deschamps 15 Oct 1968 Bayonne, France
    9 FW Stephane Guivarc'h 06 Sep 1970 Concarneau, France
    10 MD Zinedine Zidane 23 Jun 1972 Marseille, France
    11 MD Robert Pires 29 Oct 1973 Reims, France
    12 FW Thierry Henry 17 Aug 1977 Paris, France
    13 MD Bernard Diomede 23 Jan 1974Saint-Doulchard, FR
    14 MD Alain Boghossian 27 Oct 1970 Digne-les-BainsFR
    15 DF Lilian Thuram 01 Jan 1972 Point a Pitre, FR
    16 GK Fabien Barthez 28 Jun 1971 Lavelanet, France
    17 MD Emmanuel Petit 22 Sep 1970 Dieppe, FR
    18 DF Frank Leboeuf 22 Jan 1968 Marseille, FR
    20 FW David Trezeguet 15 Oct 1977 Rouen, France
    21 FW Christophe Dugarry 24 Mar 1972 Bordeaux, France
    22 GK Lionel Charbonnier 25 Oct 1966 Auxerre, FR

    Coach: Aime Jacquet 27 Nov 1941 Sail-sous-Couzan,FR

    4 MD Patrick Vieira 23 Jun 1976 Dakar (Senegal)

    Moved to France when he was 8 and never returned to Senegal for 19 years!

    8 DF Marcel Desailly 07 Sep 1968 Accra, Ghana

    Went to France aged 4 and his adopted father was a French footballer - where he learned how to play football!

    1 GK Bernard Lama 07 Apr 1963 French Guyana
    19 MD Christian Karembeu 03 Dec 1970 Lifou, New Caledonia


    But hey, why let all these concrete facts get in the way of Africa clearly been superior to Europe. Actually lets just give Europe 1 place to make more room for all the African power house nations....

  • Comment number 82.

    By the way, did you see Zaire play in their first World Cup? They didn't even understand the laws of the game - ie they kicked the ball away on a free kick just because the referee blew his whistle. They were the BEST Africa had to offer and they were a laughing stock. So why would FIFA allow lets say 10 African teams to enter, when the 1 they did allow were a joke?

    You still havent answered the question as to why Asia get less places than Africa, when Asian teams have a better record? Please answer this question. If Africa are so damn good, then why do Asia (who are not strong either) out perform Africa?

    Why blame referees? You think that just because you dont win it must be the referee! YOU ARE PARANOID. You think the whole World is against you poor Africans. In case you didn't realise, you aren't colonised anymore, but many of your nations are a complete mess. Corrupt, violent, sexist, under developed. How about taking a look closer to home rather than always blaming others? Its really really sad when you are unwilling to improve your own lifestyles and just want to pass the blame - TAKE RESPONSIBILTY for once

  • Comment number 83.

    The World Cup qualifying system is unfair, but especially against European sides. 15 of the top 25 in the rankings, 10 of the last 16 in 2006 and 9 in the upset-laden 2002 event, yet only 13 places out of 32. Compare the World Cup records of Cameroon, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and South Korea (mostly first round defeats) with those of Denmark and Ireland (always past the first round when they qualify). Base the qualification places purely on world rankings, base on the continents providing the last 32 teams to reach the last 16, or deregionalise the final qualifying stage (perhaps use 2012 for continental qualifying and 2013 for an international battle between 60 nations for 30 places alongside the hosts and holders).

    Great to see Phil clarifying the nature of France's 1998 squad. That was a perfect marriage of African skill and enthusiasm with European discipline and tactical awareness. To this day, teh African teams always come unstuck on those matters, even when coached by Europeans and featuring many European-trained players. Until those issues are sorted, no African side will win the tournament. Ivory Coast, Ghana and Cameroon are all strong teams, who could get to the semis if things go their way, but none can beat Brazil or Spain in equal circumstances.

    Africa had no teams at World Cups before 1974 because they were inept. Zaire must've set perceptions of African football (and probably black footballers in general) back 20 years. Their nations made great strides in the 80s, but haven't really progressed since 1990, despite the many Africans playing their football at the highest level.

  • Comment number 84.

    Get some Education Phil. You are so silly!!! You can insult the Africans the way you like. nature will take care of idiots like you. The only reason Asia have fewer spots is that they have accepted the way things are partly because of idiot minds like you in FIFA. You should be smart enough to know that historically, the only thing that stays permanent is change. I guess you are not smart enough to realize that european superiorists and imperialists are loosing their influence on the developing. Simply put, its a matter of time. We shall are pay dearly for the injustice against asia and africa. repent my brother!!! People with your ideas will soon be history. Its easy to say people are irresponsible when you dont appreciate the underlying causes of anarch and irresponsibility. For the most part, Africa and asia are responsible for thier current problems. But there is a history and we all know who is responsible. Be smart man, You aren't going anywhere with this attitude.

  • Comment number 85.

    Phil, ignore Dennis, he is a troll

    he just praised italian policing...

  • Comment number 86.

    It seems to me that some facts are simply not being checked. The World Cup for Africans teams did not start in 1970 but in 1934 - when Egypt, who qualified with a play-off victory over Palestine, travelled to Italy, promptly lost 4-2 to Hungary and then returned home across the Mediterranean.

    Yet there were then many reasons why there was no African representation until 1970. One was the small number of teams attempting to qualify, another was the luck of the draw - e.g. Egypt lost to Italy in a qualifying play-off for the 1954 finals - and then there's the not-so-small matter that Africa boycotted the 1966 finals, withdrawing from the qualifiers, in protest at the allocation of just one World Cup spot between Africa, Asia and Oceania.

    And just to clarify, there will be six African teams at this World Cup, not five, and obviously all African fans will be hoping the continent can do enough to justify holding onto that extra place in 2014. Fifa has yet to make a decision on this.

    Re. post #80, to say Senegal are good enough to play at the World Cup is simply not true. I covered the Teranga Lions' qualification campaign from start to finish in Dakar, starting - incidentally with an ill-deserved 1-0 win over Algeria (who were the better team but undone by some terribly refereeing decisions) - and ending in a riot when the Senegalese could not beat The Gambia in their final game. Sadly, Senegal's tale is too often told on the continent for the Fifa riches of reaching the last eight of the World Cup (around US$5-6m) were wholly squandered. Incredibly, and I don't say that lightly (and I leave you to make up your own conclusions), in 2008 the president of the Senegalese Football Federation was the very same man who had been locked up, along with three other federation employees, for stealing those Fifa funds from the federation in 2005. So instead of putting that money into infrastructure, youth development and planning for the future, there was NO infrastructural gain and a golden opportunity to develop the game in one of West Africa's poorer nations was wasted. You only have to see how both Salif Diao, regularly injured, and Khalilou Fadiga, even more injured, were recalled for the crucial final qualifier against The Gambia, even though neither had played in 40 degree heat for two years and both were ageing, was symptomatic of the lack of development. That said, Issiar Dia is one to watch - yet, perhaps saying it all, he came through France's Clairefontaine academy before switching national allegiances.

    Finally, I'd like to clarify that I am not writing off the chances of any African team - merely pointing out the difficulty of their groups. Africa has surprised before, and on 'home' soil, can definitely surprise again.

    As some contributors have already mentioned, 2002 saw Senegal, along with Denmark, dump defending champions France (and Uruguay) out of the group. 2006 found Ghana qualifying above the highly-ranked Czechs. And in previous tournaments, you would have got terrific odds on Morocco qualifying above England, Poland and Portugal (1986), Cameroon qualifying above Romania, Argentina and the Soviets (1990) not to mention Nigeria topping their 1994 World Cup group above Bulgaria, Argentina and Greece.

    The first World Cup in Asia threw up surprises galore, and there's no reason to believe Africa's first finals won't do exactly the same.

  • Comment number 87.

    Getting of the topic here i think! I thought this was meant to be about football!

    In terms of holiganism I admit we have a reputation beacause we did used to be the worst and therefore earned that reputation, but I think we suffer a bit from this reputation and are on the whole pretty good now. I think im right in saying that in Germany we were voted fans of the tournament, which shows how much we have changed.

    On the subject of Italy the police there seem to enjoy a fight as much as the holigans!! When you consider that everytime an english team goes to Italy to play, english fans get attacked/stabbed and this does not happen in our other champions league games I think its clear that English fans are generally not the ones to blame.

    Back to the subject of African teams I haven't really had my say on that yet, My opinion is that African teams have improved alot over the last 10 - 15 years and that they definately have a chance of getting to the semis. Let me make clear im not saying they WILL but i think they have a chance. Lets face it I think we all agree that teams like Ivory Coast could have had a easier draw and it will be alot tougher for them than it could of been. Would any of you be massively shocked to see Brazil and Ivory Coast go through from that group? I doubt it. However I doubt any of you would be shocked to see Brazil and Portugal go through either.

    I think a place in the finals may still be beyond any of the African teams this WC but if they continue to improve then I think we will see this in the future.

    All you guys pushing the case for the African teams I would be interested to know your opinion about how some of the problems behind the scenes in terms of organisation and discipline have effected African teams and if you think this is changing? Im referring to things like players threating to go on strike due to unpaid bonuses (i.e togo), players not turning up for international duty (i.e. Essien's dispute with the Ghana about turing up for international duty) etc. Before you all jump at me i'm not saying ill discipline does not exsist in european teams but it just seems that these sort of organisational and discipline problems do seem to occur more often in African teams. Do you think this has effected the teams negatively and do you think it is changing?

  • Comment number 88.

    Good point Tarquin, i dont think i will waste my energy trying to inform and enlighten him anymore ;)

    auscomplex, you have a HUGE chip on your shoulder. Im sure when anything doesn't go right in your life you cry 'RACIST'. You are unable to do anything and blame society as an easy way out. poor chap. And why is my 'idiot mind in FIFA'??? Since when did i become Sepp Blatter? You really do look silly. I bet you live in Europe too, but slag it off, saying how Africa is better. Yet you still don't live there - i wonder why that is. What would happen if the Western World removed their aid programmes? I'll tell you what, a hell of a lot of people would die. Its people like me that give money to charity to help people in a different continent that keep some of these people alive. I dont know them, but i help them, so before accusing and pointing the finger, realise a LOT of Western people try to help the African nations you ignorant, ungrateful little man.

    Piers - clearly a good blog as its created so much debate :D Good stuff. Thanks for adding to it as well. The info about first African representation is interesting. Also dispels some more myths (from other posters). Also very interesting to hear about Senegal. They had a very talented squad in 2002 and its a surprise how they have slipped backwards. Its an African problem in general though - corruption - which has clearly had a contributing factor. Its incredible the guys who swindled the money have been allowed to take over again - could FIFA not step in?

    Cant wait for the kick off - like you say, there WILL and always ARE surprises. Its just a question of who! Still, i think in 2002, the Asians had a huge advantage because of the weather, humidity and starting date of the tournament. Also its widely accepted the referees were the worst of any World Cup. Normally in different continents the home nation(s) have the advantage - proved when you look at past winners and the weather plays a significant role no doubt. This time around there can be no excuses. The weather will be perfect for ALL the nations, so the best team will hopefully win. I stll think altitude will have little effct, as 6000ft isn't too much. Especially with 2 weeks preperation. Let the games begin!

  • Comment number 89.

    Ted, i think Ivory Coast could well qualify, but i think they are unlucky even with the order they play the teams. They have North Korea last, which means it could be a dead match. Having Brazil last would have been better. Now Portugal will play Brazil last and Brazil could well have already qualified and thus be resting their best players. I think I.C are very unlucky with the draw BUT if they are as good as some are making out, then they should walk the group. If they are GENUINE contenders, not only should they beat Portugal, but Brazil too. I remember the last World Cup when everyone overhyped them and they got rather humiliated against the big boys. Even if they get through their group they will probably play Spain - then what!

    I actually think an African team in the top half of the draw has more chance. Because the seeded teams are weaker (i include England in this). Actually the top half is wide open, and if any team hits form then they can go all the way to the final. Thus Ghana must have half a chance of getting to the latter stages - but i still believe one of the 'big boys' will finally overcome them. Winning one off games is one thing, winning a tournament is a different matter.

  • Comment number 90.

    To respond to your points, Your first being that -Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool has maximum 5 English players playing in any game. Arsenal has more French players and maximum 2 English players playing in any game.

    That is pretty much what I am saying, Man U and Chelsea are very good teams made of 11 players. As you say they regulalry have 4 or 5 english players playing who are very good players, as are the foriegn players that make up the rest of the team. If these English players were no good then Man U would not have won the champs league and got to the final last year and chelsea would not have got there either as the english players making up the TEAM would not be successful as they would bring the quality of the TEAM down. Every player that plays in those teams has contributed to their success. How do you repond to this?

    Chelsea is not built on English spine. Look at Chelsea's games. Chelsea is built on Drogba, Essein, Terry and Cech.

    And Lampard. Players like ashely cole and joe cole are also important to them (joe cole less so recently as has been injured) So again thats what im saying ALL theses players are important to the success of the team. The foreign ones and english ones. Do you not agree?

    My question is how many English players are good enough to play in Man U, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal. The few English players that play in Man U are not worth playing at that top level. Rio Ferdinand should be playing in the Division one.

    The amount of english players that are good enough are the amount that get in the team and prove they deserve to be in the team by winning things. Rio Ferdinand has premier league titles, FA cup medals, Champs league medal, Paul Scholes has even more, how can you say that dont deserve this? If they were not good enough the team would have not one these medals!!! How do you expalin the fact that the won all these things? Surely arsenal would have won everything by your evaluation as we have few english players.

  • Comment number 91.

    There are certainly some emotional comments doing the rounds here, with not much logic or common sense.
    The best way to see if you're talking with your heart or your head is to ask a simple question for each game: "Which team would I bet EVERYTHING I own on?" And I mean EVERYTHING. If you can still honestly pick a team, great. If not, then you don't really know, do you?
    So come on honest.

  • Comment number 92.

    Sorry I meant to say in place in the FINAL in my previous post not the finals. That s compleatley changes my meaning!

  • Comment number 93.

    The post was how the African nations will do given tough draws. I expect 3 or 4 African teams in the last 16 and 2 in the quarters.

    I think Ivory Coast will WIN their group, Brazil sneaking through ahead of Portugal. I see Ivory Coast getting to the semis before Brazil come back to bite them (Brazil having knocked Spain out in the first round).

    I expect South Africa to keep the run of hosts qualifying going. They may be lowly ranked but they'll be driven by the home crowd and "supported" by the officials. I see France, Mexico and Uruguay all drawing and S.Africa going through with 1 win.

    Nigeria will push Argentina and be comfortable qualifiers. I see them getting past France in the next round before meeting England in the quarters (Tough match... England to win... then lose to Germany... penalties!)

    Cameroon could make it 4 African nations but I think they'll let a gilt edged chance slip away against Denmark.

    Ghana will pick up points but draws could cost them.

    Algeria (despite the hype on here) will find all 3 of their opponents just a bit too strong for them. Maybe three 1-0 defeats.

    Ivory coast to win the 3rd place play off with England.

    Germany v Brazil final - Germany become first Europeans to win away from Europe (on penalities... of course ;-)

  • Comment number 94.

    I sense lots of hostility here. This could well be Africa's year, and I don't think anyone would be unhappy if one of the African teams wins the World Cup. Ivory Coast has a great squad. Cameroon a great coach. Ghana has great individual players and Nigeria a great team. Algeria also has great spirit after beating Egypt and South Africa are at home, so great support. I hope they all qualify from the groups. It would be... GREAT!

  • Comment number 95.

    If your little mind wonder far enough, it will tell you where most of the aid to africa are coming from. The point is we are not bragging about it. I was born and bred in baltimore. Guess you dont even know where that is. I have been to europe and Africa and attest that with all thier resouce paucity, the poorest man in Africa knows what happiness is than you phil. You are just not a happy guy. Talking about gratitude, I think you guys owe us a lot of gratitude as well not only african. How old are you by the way? 15? I really think this forum should have some age restrictions and allow you some time to grow. Its clear you dont appreciate your world very well. Repent Phil!!! The US and Europe have not paid for their sins enough. But we shall pay for them all. If you understand your world, you'll be able to appreciate the genesis of the HIV burden in south Africa. Now that is charity I guess. Hopefully they are grateful. REPENT PHIL!!!!!

  • Comment number 96.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 97.

    Don't be like that Phil... REPENT PHIL! REPENT!

  • Comment number 98.

    I think its pretty foolish for evryone to write of Argentina's chances based on qualifying results. Maradona as a coach i can understand as he clearly is very poor but don't use the results once the WC starts is a whole new ball game. People are writting off a team that can select from Messi, Aguero, Masherano, Cambioasa, Maxi Rodrigez, Tevez, Gago, Higuain, Milito and Zanieti? The WC is six months away if Milito (Barca) can be fit he makes the defence better, plus Demachalis is not a bad defender and Walter Samuel is playing well, look at the season Aimar and the young winger/striker are having at Benfica. The point is with the right coach, this team can be just as dangerous as Brasil. Masherano has kept Kaka in check enough times and i would love to see Alves going head to head with Zanieti (sp).

  • Comment number 99.

    There is no need to be abusive, this is a healthy debate forum about football. England has only won one major football tournament on home soil in 1966. That was black and white television era. This is too long for a nation that boasts of being one of the best. Even the European championships have eluded them! The hype is too much as it puts too much pressure on average players. The media is to be blamed. Africa is trying to punch above it's weight with little financial resources as compared with the rest of the world so comparisons with Europe is not fair. When it come to football talent, we abound in it. All that remains is the tactical discipline that should be incorporated into teams and an African team can win the world cup.

  • Comment number 100.

    I am suprised Stonao has a short memory about the exploits of Ghana in the last world cup. Ghana was the only African country to qualify from a tough group consisting of Italy,The Czech republic and USA and went on to meet the then defending champions Brazil. Though we lost we outplayed them!We have also won lots of junior world tournaments, the last been the recent under 20 world cup, so wake up and give credit where its due!


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