The 2022 Qatar World Cup is finally upon us. As we head into the first of the group stage games, we will begin to see a picture forming of which teams are likely to progress and who may be heading home early.
While international heavyweights such as Brazil and Argentina are tipped for success, no small thanks to their respective teams of superstars that name Messi, Neymar, and Vinicius Junior among them. However, football is unpredictable, with international tournaments in particular often full of surprises. Established footballing nations may have the upper hand in terms of experience and history, but nations with less storied tournament pasts can, and do, cause upsets. Is it possible that an African country could lift the World Cup in Qatar? Let’s find out.
What African Countries are in the World Cup?
African countries have long made an invaluable addition to World Cup tournaments. They play a lightning fast, energised style of football that is thrilling and entertaining to watch. What’s more, the spirit and dedication of their fan bases leave many neutrals rooting for African countries.
There are five African nations taking part in this year’s World Cup tournament. First up, Cameroon will be making their eighth appearance at the tournament, securing their place with a dramatic 124th minute winner in a qualifying playoff with Algeria. Ghana will also be there, having beaten Nigeria in their qualifying game. The north of the continent will be represented by Morocco and Tunisia, both with Morocco beating DR Congo to qualify and Tunisia topping their qualifying group and dispatching Mali in a play-off. Finally, Senegal will be making their second consecutive appearance at the World Cup and will be full of confidence after lifting the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) earlier this year.
Who are the Favorites?
There’s no getting around it, the competition is fierce in the World Cup. If any team wants to be in with a chance of winning, they’ll need to pit themselves against some of the best players on the planet. We’ve already touched on the might of Argentina and Brazil, but many other formidable opponents lay in wait, including, Spain, Germany, France, Belgium, and Portugal.
Most betting outlets tip Senegal as the favorite of the African nations to lift the trophy, head over to 10bet – Sports Betting in South Africa and take a look for yourself. Morocco came in next, followed by Cameroon and Ghana, with Tunisia among the least likely to win the tournament.
In terms of overall favorites, Brazil are generally expected to lift the trophy. Argentina come in at a close second, followed by Spain, England, Germany, and the Netherlands. Senegal, and all the other African teams for that matter, certainly have their work cut out for them. Let’s take a look at the Senegal team in more detail and discuss what their chances are.
The Senegal Team
Back in February 2022, Senegal secured their first ever AFCON trophy after beating seven-time champions Egypt on penalties. As a result, Senegal will be heading into the World Cup brimming with confidence and full of ambition.
Manager Aliou Cissé has put together a finely balanced and experienced team with representatives from some of the world’s top domestic leagues. However, the team and supporters were dealt a bitter blow last week when talisman Sadio Mane was side-lined with a knee injury. First expected to miss the first few games of the tournament, the news went from bad to worse when the injury turned out to be more serious than it seemed, with the Bayern Munich forward having to undergo surgery that has ruled him out of the World Cup altogether.
This is disastrous for Senegal. Not only is Mane one of their best players, but he acts as a driving psychological force in the team, and was instrumental in their AFCON victory. He is no stranger to pressure, having played in massive games during his time at Liverpool, and would have acted as a support to younger players who could easily be overwhelmed with the spectacle of the World Cup.
Despite this setback, Cissé remains confident. He still has a team full of capable talent, including Salernitana’s Buolaye Dia, Watford’s Ismaïla Sarr, and Sheffield United’s Iliman Ndiaye, who will all be expected to do their part and fill the void left by Mane.
This year’s World Cup is set to be a classic, there are countless stories and subplots tied up in the tournament. Senegal and the other African nations may be outliers when making predictions on who will ultimately lift the trophy, but this is football, and anything can happen.