June marks the start of the 2018 World Cup, and as usual there are several African nations participating.
June marks the start of the 2018 World Cup, and as usual there are several African nations participating. Some fans around the continent are undoubtedly turning their attention toward 2026 already, given that Morocco has launched a bid to host the event. But the Russia World Cup will be a thrill in the meantime, and it’s about time to look ahead at the outlook for the five African nations competing.
Mind you, we haven’t quite reached the point at which official predictions, final odds, and detailed match analyses will be coming out. Teams are still finalizing their rosters, and with major European competitions still wrapping up as well the football world hasn’t entirely turned its attention to Russia yet. When that time comes you’ll see writers and bookmakers digging in deep. Keep an eye on top football writers and publications for in-depth analysis, and mind the casino platforms for betting odds. These sites are known for an enormous variety of games these days, but some of them still stay very up-to-date on major sporting competitions as well.
For now, though, we can look at each team’s path through the tournament and make at least vague forecasts as to their respective chances to advance to the knockout stages.
Egypt is in a very interesting position. Behind emerging superstar Mohamed Salah, who is leading the English Premier League in goals scored, this is a strong side, ranked in the top 15 in one power ranking of the World Cup teams. By virtue of pure quality, the Egyptians should advance behind Uruguay in Group A. However, with Russia also in the group it’s tough to know what to expect. The host nation always gets a boost, so though Russia is one of the field’s weaker teams, it won’t go down easily. Expect two of those three teams – Russia, Egypt, and Uruguay – to advance (with Saudi Arabia left out from the group).
Morocco is a team that could surprise a lot of people in this World Cup. It’s not typically seen as one of the stronger African teams, as you may know, so despite the bid to host in 2026 the Moroccans might not be taken particularly seriously. They’re also in a tough Group B alongside Spain, Portugal, and Iran. Spain and Portugal will be favored to advance, but Morocco is capable of getting through. Keep in mind this team went through all of qualifying without conceding a goal. That makes match-ups against the offensively gifted Spain and the Cristiano Ronaldo-powered Portugal very interesting.
Nigeria may be right there with Egypt as one of the strongest African sides, and will play in an extremely balanced Group D. Like Morocco, Nigeria relies on a very strong defense, though Chelsea star Victor Moses has given the team a boost on the wing as well. Between Nigeria, Argentina, Croatia, and Iceland it’s very difficult to say which teams will make it out of this group. But the Nigerians will certainly have a chance to do just that (and actually beat Argentina in a friendly not long ago).
Tunisia is the weakest African side in this tournament, and likely won’t be able to overcome either England or Belgium to advance from Group G. That said, England’s recent history in World Cup competition is shaky at best, and Panama, the fourth team in the group, is among the weakest teams in the tournament. The Tunisians will look to 28-year-old forward Youssef Msakni to inspire some strong performances and make things interesting.
Senegal probably has about as good a chance or better to advance than Egypt or Nigeria. It will play in a very balanced Group H with Poland, Colombia, and Japan, and at least in the early going no one seems to be able to make any sense of this batch. While Colombia is the strongest team of the bunch, any two teams could reasonably be picked to advance. If Sadio Mané is healthy – not a given these days, particularly after a recent thigh injury – Senegal has a chance.