3 African teams that will shake Russia 2018
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WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN—24 DAYS
The World Cup has never failed to send its thrills throughout the world as 32 football nations battle for glory. However, the trophy has been dominated by the so-called Old and New Worlds with teams from the oldest world, in terms of humanity, lost in the race. African teams have only reached the quarterfinals stage three times. More often, those who survive the group stage are sent packing in the Round of 16.
Nevertheless, Africans have slowly, relentlessly impacted the competition. CAF will be presenting five nations in Russia this summer. These three are the most dangerous.
Gernot Rohr's appointment as manager has breathed new life into the Super Eagles. They now play with energy and purpose, hunting and devouring opponents who make the slightest mistake. The Super Eagles were invincible throughout qualifying.
Nigeria is in a difficult group with Argentina, Iceland and Croatia. It may be the tournament's group of death. Qualifying won't be an easy task, but the Nigerians are capable.
The Teranga Lions will be visiting the World Cup for the second time in their history. In 2002, Senegal defeated France in the group stage, then drew with Denmark and Uruguay to make it to the knockout stage. Once there, they left Sweden behind to reach the quarterfinals. They lost to Turkey but matched Cameroon's performance from 12 years earlier.
The Senegalese are finally back. Senegal don't have it much easier than Nigeria. Their group includes Colombia, Poland, and Japan. Teams led by James Rodriguez and Robert Lewandowski have to be considered favourites in most groups, and the Blue Samurai are intent on performing better than they did in Brazil. That said, Senegal can throw Sadio Mane and Keita Balde at opponents. Don't rule them out.
The Egyptians are in group A with hosts Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay. The Egyptians seems to be the luckiest African team in the group stage. If they secure maximum points against Russia and Saudi Arabia, they can easily scale their way through to the Round 16.
Uruguay can give the Pharaohs a little bit of a tough time but a victory isn't yet guaranteed for the South Americans. Moreover, the Uruguayans aren't as good as they were in 2010. Then, they had Diego Forlan along with Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, and Diego Godin had hair. They are still good but not as fierce as they were in South Africa. However, even if Egypt lost to Uruguay, they should progress.
Mohamed Salah, the newly crowned king of the Premier League, leads the Pharaohs. Salah has fired Liverpool to the Champions League final. Dragging Egypt will be more difficult. He won't have as much help. Arsenal's Mohamed Elneny and West Brom's Ahmed Hegazi are among the six players from English clubs on Hector Cuper's provisional squad. When it comes down to it, though, opponents will focus on Salah. He is the difference maker in this squad. Can he take Egypt to unexpected heights?