For many world cups, participating African nations have taken the continent’s hopes with them, seeking global glory.
In a competition that features historic footballing giants like Argentina, France, and Germany, many African nations going to the World Cup take the pragmatic approach where instead of screaming loudly for the trophy, they aim to see how far they can go in the competition.
The odds (with fascinating options provided on https://www.telecomasia.net/ng/sports-betting/reviews/msport/) don’t always favor African nations. But some African nations have courageously defied the odds and gone really far in the FIFA World Cup.
In this piece, we will examine the five most successful African nations in the FIFA World Cup.
1. Morocco (Semi-Finals 2022)
Morocco’s historic world cup run at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is the farthest any African team has gotten at the showpiece.
Not only did they qualify for the semis, but they also did it dramatically. The Atlas Lions didn’t concede any goal from open play in the first five games.
They were unfortunate to be knocked out by France, although the North Africans boldly outplayed France for large stretches of the game.
Morocco (22nd globally in FIFA rankings) came into the tournaments as underdogs and wasn’t tipped to qualify from their group. Two of their other three group opponents are Belgium (2nd in FIFA rankings) and Croatia (12th in FIFA rankings). Surprisingly, they topped the group with seven points, only conceding once, an own goal.
They met a star-studded Spain team in the round of 16 and held their ground before dispatching them on penalties. Their quarterfinal opponent was Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Portugal, but a Youseff En-Nesyri 9ft jump header was enough to knock out the Portuguese.
2. Ghana QuaterFinals 2010
The 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa was the first edition hosted on the African continent. Expectations were high, and the official world cup song was about Africa finally making a mark. Ghana nearly did the impossible before the unexpected happened.
The country defeated Serbia in its first group game, drew Australia in the second, and lost by a slim margin to Germany in the third. Ghana won its round of 16 ties against the United States in extra time after playing 1-1 through 90 minutes to book a quarterfinal spot against Uruguay.
They displayed one of Africa’s best performances in world cup matches against Uruguay. Wonder goals from Sule Muntari and Deigo Forlan dragged the game into extra time. In the last minute of the game, a scuffle within the box saw Stephen Appiah shoot at an almost empty goal, only for Suarez to play the goalkeeper’s role.
He got a red card for his offense, and the referee awarded Ghana a penalty kick. The whole of Africa watched as Asamoah Gyan hit the woodwork with his shot, breaking fans’ hearts across the continent. Until the 2022 edition of the FIFA World cup, it’s the closest any African nation ever got to the world cup trophy.
3. Cameroon Quarterfinals 1990
Cameroon became the first African country to reach the quarterfinals of the World Cup when it achieved the feat in 1990.
It was the only time they made it out of the group stage in eight attempts. The team star, Roger Milla, exhibited one of the best performances by an African player at the tournament at 38.
The Indomitable Lions kickstarted the tourney by defeating the defending champions, Argentia, 1-0. They defeated Romania 2-1 in the second game, with Roger Milla scoring both goals and performing his iconic “Makossa” dance celebration. Cameroon wrapped up their group stage with a 4-0 loss to the Soviet Union but still qualified for the next round.
They met Columbia in the round of 16 and won the game 2-1, with Roger Milla scoring both goals in extra-time. However, tragedy struck in the quarterfinals when they lost to England 3-2, exiting the tournament. The heroics of Cameroon remains unforgotten until this day, and Roger Milla scooped the year due to his exploits.
4. Senegal Quarterfinals 2002
The Teranga Lions have only qualified for the world cup three times in their history, in 2002, 2018, and 2022. They’ve gone past the first round twice, reaching the quarterfinals in their maiden appearance.
Aliou Cisse captained the 2002 World Cup squad and coached the team at the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.
Senegal started the tournament on a high note, defeating the defending champions France 1-0. In their subsequent games, they drew Denmark 1-1 and Uruguay 3-3.
They earned five points, enough to take them to the next round at Uruguay’s and France’s expense.
The team defeated Sweden 2-1 after extra time in their round of 16 encounters, becoming only the second African team to get to the FIFA World Cup quarterfinals. Their campaign ended after they unluckily lost to Turkey via a 94th-minute goal.
5. Nigeria Second Round Thrice (1994, 1998, and 2014)
Only Cameroon has been to the FIFA World Cup more times than Nigeria in Africa. The farthest the super eagles have ever gotten at the tournament is the second round, which they did thrice.
They remain the only African country to have made it past the World cup group stage three times.
The nation’s best performance at the world cup was its first appearance in 1994. It debuted at the tournament with a 3-0 win over Bulgaria.
The team lost its second game to Argentina 2-1 and won its third fixture 2-0 against Greece to win the group and qualify for the next round.
Italy cut short the nation’s fairy tale debut by beating them 2-1 in the second round. Nigeria was on the brink of qualifying thanks to a 25th-minute goal by Emmanuel Amunike. Roberto Baggio scored in the 88th minute and netted a penalty in extra time to crush the country’s dreams.
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