Predicting the Fortunes of Africa’s Five in Brazil

Predicting the Fortunes of Africa’s Five in Brazil

Posted: 11 June 2014 Time: 10:16 am

In this feature, KICK OFF’s Ed Dove gives his forecast for Africa’s five Brazil-bound nations in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Comment below and let us know if you agree or disagree with his predictions.

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For all of Africa’s five nations this summer could really go either way. All five are capable of being eliminated in the group stage while, by the same token, it wouldn’t be a major surprise for any of the quintet to progress to the knockout stages, with the potential exception of the multi-talented Ghanaian side.

While this makes fortune-telling a mug’s game, it is also what makes the prospect of the 2014 World Cup so enticing from an African perspective. It is unlikely that the continent’s sides will deliver a communal showing as dismal as four years ago (when five of the six were eliminated in the first round) but they do remain an incredibly volatile bunch.

Amazingly, despite being the same five World Cup qualifiers as 2010, all of Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, the Cote d’Ivoire and Algeria have endured either non-qualification for a Cup of Nations tournament or a poor performance at the competition in the intervening four years. Despite the presence of talismanic players, some of the most decorated in world football over the same period, any of the quintet are capable of flopping.

Similarly, the coaching situation is fascinating. 

Despite possessing the most talented collections of players, both Ghana and, to a greater extent, the Cote d’Ivoire have arguably been mismanaged over the last few years. Conversely, Algeria and Cameroon, who have the more limited sets of players, have grown to be well organised units latterly under Vahid Halilhodzic and Volker Finke respectively.

Stephen Keshi probably stands somewhere between these two stalls. His achievements at the Cup of Nations in 2013 and his tactical manipulation of the Super Eagles starting XI deserves credit, but things are threatening to unravel following his highly questionable personnel decisions for the squad of 23. The Big Boss’s legacy, disputably more than those of the other men, rests upon the next three games.

Cameroon
Beyond Brazil, who I fully expect to escape Group A, I would give Cameroon, Mexico and Croatia all roughly equal chance of progression.

Mexico are arguably the weakest of the three, but their record of making the Last 16 for the last five World Cups looks ominous. They have not been eliminated in the first round since 1978.

Croatia’s midfield ranks among the best in the world, but an opening day defeat to the hosts might put them on the back foot from the off. Not since 1982 has a team lost in the tournament curtain raiser and still finished in the top two of their group.

After their draw with Germany and their victory over Moldova, the Indomitable Lions might just be coming good at the right time. Their defence looks strong, and, in Samuel Eto’o, they possess an elite striker who will be super-motivated to leave a lasting impression in a tournament that has, too often, passed him by.

Progression could set-up a tasty second-round battle with Spain.

Ed Dove’s Prediction: Last 16


Cote d’Ivoire
I fear the Cote d’Ivoire have been grossly misrepresented in the international media in the weeks leading up to the World Cup. 

It has become too easy to reel off predictable tropes and platitudes about the ‘Golden Generation’ and the insurmountable pressure they are facing to escape from the group in Brazil.

The fabled generation of ASEC Mimosas graduates are starting to ebb away, but while Didier Drogba, Kolo Toure and Didier Zokora are clearly past their prime, Yaya Toure, Gervinho and Salomon Kalou are at the height of their powers and coming off the back of fine seasons at club level.

The experience of the veterans, the class of the midfield, and the green shoots of the next generation, namely Serge Aurier and Wilfried Bony, make the Elephants a menacing prospect.

The pressure is much less than it has been and indeed, under the fairly aimless guidance of Sabri Lamouchi, I would argue that expectations are not particularly high at all.

I anticipate that the Elephants will escape the group due to the relative weaknesses of Japan and Greece (although even without Falcao, Colombia’s attack will trouble Zokora/Bamba/Kolo), as well as their own qualities.

After that, they will likely run into one of Uruguay, Italy and England—any option would mean a fantastic match, but here, I fear, is where the Golden Generation (or at least what’s left of it) will come to an end.

Ed Dove’s Prediction: Last 16

Nigeria
A month ago I would have been one of those dancing around in my new (lemon) green Nigeria jersey, wildly proclaiming that this would be the year when the Super Eagles would take their place in the Last Eight.

My mood has dampened a lot over the intervening days.

Disheartened by the provisional line-up, discouraged by the friendly performances, and dismayed by the final squad of 23, I fear that Keshi has made life incredibly hard for himself and for those players he does take to Brazil.

A week ago, I would have said that the Super Eagles were an injury away from kissing goodbye to the quarter-finals. Then Elderson Echiejile was ruled out and even the very accommodating Group F now appears to be treacherous terrain.

A hopeful pair of victories against Iran and Bosnia may be too much to wish for, but if that does happen, then a second round exit to France in Brasilia on June 30 would be a dignified (if ultimately disappointing) end of the road for the Big Boss and the promise of 2013.

Ed Dove’s Prediction: Last 16

Ghana
A superbly talented collection of players, and they have the pedigree of 2006 and 2010, but unfortunately, I fear that circumstances will conspire against Ghana this summer.

First of all, the group is monumentally challenging. They may have escaped from ominous pools in the past (against Italy, Czech Republic and the USA in 2006, Germany, Serbia and Australia in 2010), but Germany, Portugal and the USA represent an altogether more menacing challenge.

Secondly, it’s hard to shake the conviction that Kwesi Appiah will not configure the side as he should, with his star man, Kwadwo Asamoah as the hub. Instead, Kojo will be shoved to left-back, leaving the ageing pair of Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari to dictate affairs and ultimately, I fear, be swamped.

They would need to be at their absolute best to escape from Group G and unfortunately, with Appiah at the helm, this doesn’t look likely.

Ed Dove’s Prediction: Group Stage Elimination

Algeria
Many have identified Algeria as the weakest team in the World Cup, but this is far from the truth. The side may have struggled for goals in 2010 (and struggled altogether at the 2013 AFCON), but they are organised in defence, combative in midfield, and possess both options and a cutting edge in attack.

They won’t will the competition, but I believe that Vahid Halilhodzic’s resource management and his integration of new players, players who offer something a little different, will see the Desert Foxes out of a group that couldn’t have been much more favourable.

In the Last 16, however, they will likely run into one of Portugal or Germany, by then, their work will be done.

Ed Dove’s Prediction: Last 16

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A number of readers have sent me questions which I will endeavour to respond to in a Question and Answer feature with KICK OFF before the tournament begins, if you have any questions or issues you want to put to me, please write them in the comments section below and I will include them in the editorial.

Follow Ed Dove on Twitter @EddyDove

CLICK HERE and vote on our World Cup poll

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Your comments on this story...

feelme
posted: 10:34am 11/06/2014
unknown .
niyi oyedola
posted: 10:47am 11/06/2014
@ED dove GOD will bless you and your household for your honest write up on Nigeria.
ola dara
posted: 10:50am 11/06/2014
4 out of 5.you are a football expert what can we do.on nigeria case you are indirectly saying friendlies should be used as a parameter to jugde a major competition since we did not perform to high expectation leading to the forth coming tourney hence we will not be seconds away from a q-final berth anymore.okay ooooo.
Africa 1
posted: 10:58am 11/06/2014
Dear Mr. Dove the way you predict Ghana and Nigeria team is unacceptable knowing that football can not only judge on paper but the real thing is on the pitch do not forget that football is not a mathematics that we say 2+2=4.............all the same lets wait and see if your prediction will be right or not
Africa 1
posted: 10:59am 11/06/2014
This ED dove is sick how can u write all African Team off like this............okay time will tell
Munachiso Iwunze
posted: 11:07am 11/06/2014
@Ed Hove, Thank you for your honest opinion of the team's performance..

However I sincerley hop they prove us wrong but it is a VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY Long shot...
handsy88
posted: 11:09am 11/06/2014
it's very surprising dat what even a blind man can see STEPHEN is not seeing it or HE's seeing it and pretends not 2SEEING it.....when i think of nigerian players like;UCHE,LUKMAN,ALUKO,CHINEDU AND OTIGBA den i continue 2lament if STEPHEN is not seeing what dey can bring 2da party when d chips ar down! hmmmmm!
Sooney25
posted: 11:13am 11/06/2014
Why can't we try Moses in the number 10 position....me thinks he can do a good job..
Avant9ja
posted: 11:18am 11/06/2014
Accepted save for Nigeria that will go down to Germany in QF. WHY ?

I see SE topping group and defeating Switzerland in Last 16 but stalling against
Germany in a heavy defeat.

This is how SE well top Group F:
Nigeria beats Iran 2-0

Argentina beats BH 1-0 but with physical consequences for Messi who would be crowded out with a slight knock by rough playing BH.

Nigeria defeats a 10-man BH 2-0

Argentina defeats Iran 2-0

Knowing both have qualified,
Argentina fields week team against Nigeria, get a Draw.

Impossible? I don't think so and most of all I am a supporter.
ndu
posted: 11:22am 11/06/2014
I beg to differ here. Under what circumstances are these analysis based on? What parameters affect these conclusions? Anyway, they are Ed dove's opinion.

In my opinion, African teams will do better this yr. I expect two or three countries to make it to the Quarters this yr. Either of Ivory Coast and/or Cameroon and/or Ghana; then Nigeria.

From which at least one of the African countries will be in the Semis.

Right now...analysis is just analysis and opinion is just opinion. Till the entire 90 mins of each match are played..Nobody knows the outcome.

Ed dove wandered off point after his criticism of the Nigeria team. Has it occurred to you that Keshi might have wanted the result that way to work on the psyche of his opponents?
Anybody with a real analytical brain will be able to think it through. We held much stronger teams like Italy(9th on FIFA ranking), Greece(12th on FIFA ranking), and real footballing nations like Mexico and Scotland to draws ...only to lose to a weak and infamous USA(13th place) team... Played in a US arena filled with distractions where others in the main team were taken out after the first half and our regular starters came in as subs and in the last quarter of the match and pulled 1 goal back? ....To me that is strength.

I am a very strong critic of the eagles and even I know that all that was just Keshi playing psychology and the proof will come out after we flog Iran 4-0 after our first game....Only then will critics start seeing the prospects of Nigeria coming top of group F....

A real analyst should be able to put his analysis right from the start and we shall see if Ed dove is a real analyst after our first game against Iran.
Game147
posted: 11:22am 11/06/2014
How can Moses who hardly releases the ball or delivers crosses like other wingers be played as #10 ???
Africa 1
posted: 11:22am 11/06/2014
Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi had to play fatherly role in settling a dispute between Super Eagles senior players John Obi Mikel and Emmanuel Emenike.

The duo,who had been at loggerheads since the 0-0 draw against Greece last week shook hands and hugged after a lengthy meeting initiated and chaired by Stephen Keshi.

“Keshi had a family chat with the boys on Sunday and in the meeting he made it known to Mikel and Emenike that their rift is unsettling the team”a source told SL10.

“After a heated exchange both players poured out their minds after which Keshi settled them but not without getting involved in a shouting game with one of them”

“At the end both players shook hands, hugged and even ended up in each other’s room chatting before going to bed, it’s over thanks to Keshi spotting it early”

It was gathered that all 23 players who was present at the meeting was asked to speak out their grievances so all issues can be iron out before team flies out to Brazil today for serious business.

Newcastle forward Shola Amoebi the oldest and most experienced among the 23 selected players later advised the players on the strength of been united as a team with no ill feelings towards one another.

The team trained once on Monday ahead of its departure to Brazil today for the World Cup with its first game scheduled for 15th of June against Iran.
ubasuccess
posted: 11:24am 11/06/2014
ED DOVE: Big thanks for your good write ups. in the other hand I am optimistic that Nigeria and Cameroon will make it in knockout stages! my Able Super Eagles are going to prove a lot of Nigerians wrong I will like someone to bet me on this!!!
Adaora
posted: 11:31am 11/06/2014
Nigeria players and officials as well as other players from other Africa countries should watch out for the british media. A friend of mine working at BBC told me they are looking for stories for one of their program Panorama on match fixing. They should look out for them and should have it in their mind that they may disguise themselves in various form in order to to get implicating information from them or to trick them into making them participate in match fixing during any of their world cup matches.
weareall1
posted: 11:32am 11/06/2014
So Colins Udoh nor fit still show us the pictures when our boy tey arrive for Brazil. Nawaoh
TeellThemm
posted: 11:36am 11/06/2014
I wish Nigeria win the world, i wish we are the only one that knows God or the only country that prays better. I wish the expectation of millions of Nigerians wishing for glory at this world cup are met, i wish i wish i wish, ummmmm. Well before a ball is kicked and our first game played i want to state my position categorically that all the wishes above can not atone a bad player or a bad team into a better team. Those that have excelled and will excel in this world cup are those with experience and mature players and not fluke and inexperience players and Nigeria happens to belong to those with inexperience players and jokers. No matter how you wish and dream, God do not play football but one preparedness,good players, team work, team cohesion and above all tactical input from the bench which in all of the above i think we are lacking great chunk of it.

I want to state that i wish SE win the world cup, i wish they trash every team that comes before them and if in the end they actually do, i will be the happiest person on earth BUT i do not believe they have the capability to progress beyond the group stage. This is my opinion and wishes has nothing to do with this. The lack of IK Uche, Obafemi Martins, Taye Taiwo, Lukman Haruna, Chinedu Obasi and having a solid defense back up will be Nigeria undoing at this world cup.

Lucky are those that prepared with the right players and experience and i believe Nigeria do not have any of it. I wish them all the luck but i do not have faith or hope in this team, they are too fragile, no depth and lack quality tactical mind from the bench. This is my opinion.
toks10
posted: 11:47am 11/06/2014
I agree with some of that except for Ghana nd Nigeria,i think Ghana will make it to the next. Round cause of their fighting spirit as for Nigeria Keshi has killed our chances with his selections nd his luck has ran out,i never believed in his coaching ability not with this kind of selection.
emmychuks
posted: 11:54am 11/06/2014
@Ed Dove, for saying the mind of the real SE fans \"Disheartened by the provisional
line-up, discouraged by the friendly
performances, and dismayed by
the final squad of 23, I fear that
Keshi has made life incredibly hard
for himself and for those players
he does take to Brazil.\" You will swim in Good health. God Bless SE
martins60
posted: 11:56am 11/06/2014
your coach said he doesnt know anything about iran!!!!!!!!!!!!!
im really afraid when u understimate iran this much.
please some one tell him to watch some of their match movies and tell him that its aeam that wants just to defend and hit with counter attack.they are tall and they have enough body power to do that
i do really worry for you
martins60
posted: 11:59am 11/06/2014
your coach said he doesnt know anything about iran!!!!!!!!!!!!!
im really afraid when u understimate iran this much.
please some one tell him to watch some of their match movies and tell him that its aeam that wants just to defend and hit with counter attack.they are tall and they have enough body power to do that
i do really worry for you
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