The list of African teams that qualified for this year’s football World Cup in Russia lacks some strong sides like Côte d’Ivoire. Accordingly, the competition to become the best African team at the 2018 World Cup will be fierce. We do have a favorite, though.
Internet sportsbook sites in Egypt also suggest that at least three of the five African teams are evenly matched. Let us consider each team’s individual strengths as well as their luck in the draw for the tournament groups.
Tunisia’s national team, nicknamed “The Eagles of Carthage,” returns to the tournament after missing out in 2010 and 2014. As a part of Group G, Tunisia will have to go against Belgium (one of the favorites to win the World Cup if online sportsbooks in Egypt are to be believed), England (who are certainly expected to reach the next stage) and Panama (who are completely new to World Cups and are obviously Tunisia’s most realistic opponent).
In their previous four World Cup appearances, Tunisia did not manage to survive the group phase. Unfortunately, the spell might not be broken this time, either.
Making it to the World Cup after a 20-year-absence, Morocco won’t have an easier time at the group stage than Tunisia. Their opponents in Group B will be Iran, Spain and the team we are expecting to grab the trophy this year, Portugal.
Iran had a quite smooth qualification campaign, securing their place in the World Cup earlier than any Asian teams. Portugal and Spain are menacing threats in themselves, but should they draw their match against each other, they will be even more merciless against Morocco.
However, the African team is easy to play against. Their strength was demonstrated in their qualification campaign, where they did not concede a single goal. Still, it seems unlikely that they will go down in history as the best African team at the 2018 World Cup.
Senegal will start their second World Cup appearance in Group H against Colombia, Japan and Poland. The latter team, who has the flashy Robert Lewandowski in their ranks, may be their biggest concern. Colombia will also be a difficult opponent even though they have not been performing as well as it had been expected following their reaching the quarter-finals in 2014.
Senegal has run a convincing campaign for qualification, which showed that they are not to be underestimated. Offering 3.25 odds, Senegal, and Nigeria are the joint favorites of online sportsbook sites in Egypt. However, their getting to the second stage of the tournament is far from guaranteed.
Deploying a balanced side that excels at counterattacks and includes a good number of players with Premier League experience, Nigeria may have better chances at getting past the group phase than Senegal even if Group D is no walk in the park.
They will be tested by the likes of Argentina, Croatia and Iceland. In order to meet other opponents in the next team, they will have to make good use of their athleticism, pace, and balance between defense and offense, which are indeed valuable assets.
Offering better odds than Nigeria, Egypt may actually have the luckiest draw. In Group A, they will face Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Uruguay. While the latter is undoubtedly a major force in the tournament, the other two teams are not on the same level as Egypt.
Of course, the favorable draw is only the beginning. The team would hardly be satisfied with not getting past the second stage, especially with Mo Salah in their ranks. He is a solid contender for the Ballon d’Or and scores almost every time he gets on the field with Liverpool. Having proved his ability to turn matches around almost single-handedly, Salah has certainly caught the attention of both football fans and online betting sites in Egypt.
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