Two of the Best African Victories at the FIFA World Cup

We are just a few months away from the biggest event on the sporting calendar, the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Anticipation has already reached a fever pitch for what is set to be a footballing party in the desert.

France enter the tournament as the current champions and OddsChecker, which provides free bets on the World Cup and compares odds, have made Les Bleus favourites to retain their crown.

If they were to do so, they would become the first nation in 60 years to win consecutive World Cups with Brazil becoming the last nation to achieve that feat in 1958 and 1962.

The opening ceremony of the World Cup

In order to do that, however, they first need to conquer the curse of the reigning champions. The three previous winners of the tournament – Germany, Spain and Italy – all perished in the group stages when attempting to defend their crown. That should be Didier Deschamps’ first thought. 

Five African nations – Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco, Cameroon and Ghana – will all be on their way to the Arabian Gulf State. And they will be hoping to fare much better than the continent’s representatives last year when all five nations fell in the group stages. That marked a dreadful showing from Africa’s finest, so let’s take a look back at some happier times. Here are two of the greatest victories by African nations at the FIFA World Cup. 

Senegal 1-0 France – Group Stage – 2002 

Some may say that the curse we eluded to began with France two decades ago. After Zinedine Zidane’s brace helped them on their way to defeating Brazil 3-0 in Paris, Les Bleus headed to the far-east as the defending champions.

With a team containing the aforementioned Zidane, as well as Arsenal duo Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira, the French were anticipating reaching the latter stages of the competition at the very least. Facing tournament debutants Senegal in their opening game only boldened their confidence. They were in for a shock. 

The Lions of Teranga faced their illustrious opponents with no fear and were rewarded for their efforts after half an hour in Seoul. El Hadji Diouf made great progress down the left-hand touchline, and his low cross found former Fulham midfielder Papa Bouba Diop, who bundled the ball past Fabien Barthez at the second time of asking, leaving the world stunned. It was a lead that the West Africans would hold on to, handling the late French pressure to win their first ever match on the global stage. They would go on to reach the quarter-finals before succumbing to Turkey after a heartbreaking Golden Goal defeat.

The opening ceremony of the World Cup

 Ghana 2-1 USA (AET) – Last 16 – 2010

Ghana’s run at the 2010 World Cup is the stuff of legend. Despite the absence of Michael Essien – who was their star man in Germany four years prior – their squad was still stocked with talent. The likes of Asamoah Gyan, Sulley Muntari, Kevin-Prince Boateng and captain John Mensah were the men for the big occasion. 

It was Gyan’s 85th-minute penalty in their opening group game that set the Black Stars on their way, securing a 1-0 victory. They would follow that up with a draw against Australia and despite losing to Germany in their final group game, they progressed to the knockout phase. 

It was expected that the runners-up in Group D would have to face Fabio Capello’s England in the second round however, the Three Lions stumbled their way through Group C and ended up finishing as runners-up to the USA.  

Ghana would eventually take full advantage of that favourable draw but for long periods, the match was a nail-biting affair. Kevin-Prince Boateng gave the African side an early lead, but that was cancelled out by Landon Donovan’s penalty on the hour mark. The game would then drag into extra time and Ghana would strike immediately. Once again it was Gyan who bullied the American defenders after a long punt forward, before firing past Tim Howard and securing safe passage to the quarter-finals.  

We all know how that story ends, however, with the hand of Luis Suarez stopping the Black Stars from becoming the first African team to reach the semifinals of the World Cup, much to the rest of the planet’s despair. 

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