FIFA World Cup Brazil – June 12 to July 13

Group A
Brazil
Croatia
Mexico
Cameroon

Group B
Spain
Netherlands
Chile
Australia

Group C
Colombia
Greece
Côte d’Ivoire
Japan

 

Group D
Uruguay
Costa Rica
England
Italy

Group E
Switzerland
Ecuador
France
Honduras

Group F
Argentina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Iran
Nigeria

Group G
Germany
Portugal
Ghana
USA

Group H
Belgium
Algeria
Russia
Korea Republic

Cameroon

How they qualified
Drawn in perhaps the most open group in Africa, alongside Libya, Congo DR and Togo, Cameroon survived the challenge with the help of an overturned loss because of Togo’s fielding of an ineligible player. Ultimately the Lions did enough anyway with a 1-0 defeat of the pace-setting Libyans in their final match that saw them finish with 13 points from six matches. Once in the final play-off round, they handled a tough task against Tunisia with aplomb. A scoreless draw on the road gave way to a 4-1 home win that has Volker Finke’s side feeling confident about their trip to Brazil.

FIFA World Cup finals history
Perhaps no team has done more to shake up perceptions of African football. The Indomitable Lions exited Spain 1982 at the group stage, but they ended their maiden excursion undefeated, having drawn 0-0 with both Peru and Poland and 1-1 with eventual winners Italy. Eight years later, they wrote themselves into the annals of the game by beating holders Argentina in the Opening Match and becoming the first African side to reach the quarter-finals, powered by the goals of evergreen striker Roger Milla. That breakthrough performance remains their finest showing, group-stage exits having followed in 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2010.

The key players
Samuel Eto’o remains the world-class threat up front, although the charismatic figure, who still serves as captain, has gone in and out of the team. But even without the Chelsea veteran, the side if loaded with experience and high-level talent. Nicolas N’Koulou, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Aurelien Chedjou remain vital at the back, while the midfield is even more loaded with Alex Song, Jean Makoun and Stephane Mbia at the heart of the team.

Coach: Volker Finke
Best performances in a FIFA competition: FIFA World Cup Italy 1990 (Quarter-finals), Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Sydney 2000 (Winners)
Former stars: Roger Milla, Marc-Vivien Foe, Rigobert Song

Côte d’Ivoire

How they qualified
Côte d’Ivoire breezed through their opening qualifying group with four wins from their six matches. They scored 15 goals to five conceded, and their only dropped points came from two draws against their biggest rivals Morocco. Their home-and-away play-off was much trickier however as a resurgent Senegal stood in their way. For the final quarter of an hour of the second leg, the Senegalese were one goal away from knocking out the Elephants on away goals at 3-2 aggregate, but Salomon Kalou’s late goal settled the tie and sent the Ivorians into their third consecutive World Cup finals.

FIFA World Cup finals history
Côte d’Ivoire have never made it past the group stage of a FIFA World Cup finals, but it is perhaps worth pointing out that the draw has never been particularly kind to them. For their debut appearance in 2006, the Elephants shared Group C with Argentina, Netherlands and Serbia and Montenegro. They finished third in the pool, just as they did in South Africa four years later, when they were drawn alongside Brazil, Portugal and Korea DPR.

The key players
Côte d’Ivoire boast some of the greatest individual talents in Africa. Forwards Drogba and Salomon Kalou are a formidable front pair, while midfield duo Didier Zokora and Yaya Toure perform key ball-winning duties in the middle of the park. Explosive winger Gervinho supplies service from both flanks, with Emmanuel Eboue and Kolo Toure providing a wealth of experience at the back.

Coach: Sabri Lamouchi
Best performances in a FIFA competition: FIFA World Cup Germany 2006, South Africa 2010 (Group stages), FIFA U-17 World Cup Canada 1987 (Third place), FIFA Confederations Cup Saudi Arabia 1992 (Fourth place)
Former stars: Laurent Pokou, Youssouf Fofana, Joel Tiehi

Ghana

How they qualified
Ghana survived one of the continent’s toughest qualifying groups by winning five of their six matches against 2012 African champions Zambia, Lesotho and Sudan. A 1-0 defeat in Zambia was their only set-back in a campaign that saw them outscore their opponents by 15 goals to three. That sent them into the final play-off round, where again the Black Stars were done no favours by the draw, which set them up against seven-time African champions Egypt. However, a resounding 6-1 win the home first leg basically settled the tie and sent them into their third FIFA World Cup in succession even before a meaningless 2-1 defeat in Cairo.

FIFA World Cup finals history
An impressive FIFA World Cup finals in 2006 saw the Black Stars beat the Czech Republic and the USA before being eliminated by Brazil in the second round, but they were the only African team to escape their group. In 2010, they were again the only side from the continent in the knockout rounds, and they equalled Africa’s best-ever performance by beating the USA to reach the quarter-finals. Ghana’s loss in a penalty kick shoot-out to Uruguay in the last eight was perhaps the most dramatic of the tournament, and they may well consider themselves as having unfinished business after Asamoah Gyan’s missed penalty kick denied them from becoming the first African side to reach the semi-finals of a FIFA World Cup.

The key players
There are few better midfields in the world than Ghana’s as the Black Stars can call on veterans Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari as well as players hitting their prime like Andre Ayew, Kwadwo Asamoah and Kevin-Prince Boateng. Up front, the athletic Asamoah Gyan will be a vital focal point and no doubt anxious to prove that Ghana can be the undisputed class of Africa.

Coach: Kwesi Appiah
Best performances in a FIFA competition: FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 (Quarter-finals), FIFA U-17 World Cup Italy 1991, Ecuador 1995 (Winners), FIFA U-20 World Cup Egypt 2009 (Winners)
Former stars: Abedi Pele, Samuel Kuffour, Ibrahim Sunday

Nigeria

How they qualified
Drawn in Group F with Malawi, Kenya and Namibia, the Nigerians were always massive favourites to reach the final play-off round of qualifying, and they did not lose any matches in the group stage. They did draw three times, once against each opponent, with the most worrying result a 1-1 at home to Kenya when only a second half injury time goal by Nnamdi Oduamadi won the point. Once in the two-legged play-off, the Eagles drew the lowest-ranked team in Ethiopia and despite the improvement of the east Africans, Nigeria were seldom threatened in winning away 2-1 and at home 2-0.

FIFA World Cup finals history
After impressing on their way to the second round in each of their first two FIFA World Cup appearances, 1994 and 1998, Nigeria have struggled since: going out at the group stage three times while taking just two points from their last eight matches in the finals. A muddled South Africa 2010 campaign under Lars Lagerback did little to bolster Nigeria’s reputation, but Brazil 2014 offers another chance for the reigning African champions to soar.
The key players
Coach Stephen Keshi has earned a reputation as a no-nonsense boss who is not afraid to choose in-form domestic players at the expense of more well-known stars, and that policy paid handsome dividends as Nigeria won the 2013 edition of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations.

Keshi has kept a relatively stable spine of the team since then, with Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel leaving his mixed past with the Eagles behind to become the lynchpin of the side. In goal, Vincent Enyeama is an important veteran, while Victor Moses, Ahmed Musa and Emmanuel Emenike are key parts of a deep attack.

Coach: Stephen Keshi
Best performances in a FIFA competition: FIFA World Cup USA 1994, France 1998 (Round of 16), FIFA U-17 World Cup China 1985, Japan 1993, Korea Republic 2007 (Winners), Olympic Football Tournament Atlanta 1996 (Winners), FIFA U-20 World Cup Saudi Arabia 1989, Netherlands 2005 (Runners-up)
Former stars: Jay Jay Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu, Rashidi Yekini

Source: FIFA

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Posted by on May 5 2014. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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