Internal strife, tense fightbacks, remarkable tenacity and resilience rounds up a second week of resilience from Africa’s teams. YASSER ALLY reports.
Cameroon Group : Brazil, Croatia, Mexico Rating out 10: 1 Verdict: Second rate, toothless, shameless
Far from indomitable, the Lions went crashing out of the World Cup in week two, with a disastrous 4-0 defeat to Croatia. Already facing an uphill battle against the Croats, their task was made even harder when Alex Song was sent off for striking an opponent, leaving Cameroon to play with 10 men for over 70 minutes. This made it all too easy for Croatia to coast home to a win.
More bizarre events followed when Cameroon team mates Benoît Assou-Ekotto and Benjamin Moukandjo got into a heated argument and Assou-Ekotto attempted to head-butt Mokandjo. This is FIFA not the WWF Assou. Sort out the issues behind closed doors, after you pack your bags for home.
Ivory Coast Group : Columbia, Japan, Greece Rating out of 10: 6 Verdict: Fall from grace
After a winning start to the competition, Ivory Coast was brought back down to earth by an impressive Columbian team in a 2-1 defeat. Columbia, still on a high from their opening game victory, kept their nerve and defended their hearts out to secure the win. Star striker Didier Drogba added some much needed presence upfront when he was brought on from the bench in the second half but this time the tactic was not as successful as in the first game. A silly second goal was conceded when Serey Die was caught in possession in his own half with only one defender behind him. A decisive through ball, some pace up front and a quality finish put Columbia 2-0 up. A superb solo effort by former Arsenal striker Gervinho four minutes later made it 2-1 and made for a tense finish but the Ivorians couldn’t find the elusive equaliser. All is not lost for Ivory Coast though. Should they avoid defeat in their last group game against Greece, they stand a good chance of qualifying for the knock out stages.
Ghana Group : Germany, Portugal, USA Rating out of 10: 8 Verdict: Thrilling performance
After their opening defeat to the USA, many wrote the Black Stars off as the faced off against the might Germans. They could have folded after going down 1-0 but boy did they fight back. The team caused a huge shock when Asamoah Gyan put them 2-1 up. Suddenly Africans everywhere dared to believe that the unthinkable was about to happen. But German substitute MiroslavKlose tapped in the equaliser and with that created some history of his own, becoming the joint all-time leading goal scorer at the World Cup.
Ghana still had a chance to win but a decision to shoot instead of passing to a team mate proved selfish. Ghana is still in with a chance to qualify for the second round. Their final group game is against Portugal, who also need to win if they are to progress.
Nigeria Group : Argentina, Iran, Bosnia Rating out of 10: 8 Verdict: Super Eagles on the up!
Nigeria claimed an impressive 1-0 victory over Bosnia on Saturday night, putting them in a good position to progress to the next round. Peter Odemwingie provided the all important goal for the Super Eagles. Emmanuel Emenike proved to be a regular thorn in the Bosnian defense and owned that right flank. Nigeria also have goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama to thank; he commanded his defense well and pulled of some fine saves especially from Edin Dzeko. Nigerian coach Stephen Keshi dedicated the win to the African continent.
Nigeria come up against one of the favourites in their final group game against Argentina but a draw will see them go through to the knock out stage.
Algeria Group : Belgium, Russia, South Korea Rating out of 10: 9 Verdict: Ferocious display from the Fennec Foxes!
A first half performance especially to remember from Algeria. The Foxes out smarting their Asian opposition to take the important 3 points on offer.
After breaking their 28 year scoring drought in the competition in their previous game, Algeria opened the floodgates in their match against South Korea with a first half performance to remember. They became the first African team to score four goals in a World Cup game.
Representing both Africa and the Arab nations, Algeria took command of the game and shocked the Koreans with neat interchange play and passing. At times it seemed Algeria were in cruise mode in the first half, going 3-0 up before the 40-minute mark. South Korea fought back in the second half but Algeria kept their nerve and were able to score a fourth goal to secure the victory.
Algeria are now in a straight shoot-out with Russia to progress to the next round. These teams face each other in their final do-or-die group game. A draw could be enough to see Algeria through but the Russians will be coming into this one knowing that only a victory will see them through.
This week saw better performances from the African sides with the exception of Cameroon. The last set of games however will be tough. Africa, show us your talent and your teamwork. Don’t give in to the super powers of the sport.