The World Cup draw has taken place in Russia and all 32 teams have learned their fate. Here we look at the respective groups in which the African representatives have been put and the challenges that await them in their quest to make it into the knock out stages.
Egypt has been placed in Group A alongside hosts Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay. This looks like a fairly balanced group with no outright favourites. Russia will look to make good use of home advantage. Uruguay has star strikers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. It certainly won’t be easy for Mo Salah and co but if they grab all three points against Saudi Arabi and manage to draw the two games left, they will have a good chance of making it to the last 16. Argentine manger Héctor Cúper is known for building an organized defense and that will come in handy for the Pharaohs.
The Atlas Lions are in Group B and will face 2016 European Champions Portugal, 2010 World Cup Champions Spain and Iran. This certainly looks a tough task for Hervé Renard’s side. Morocco managed to reach the last 16 in the 1986 World Cup but they need everything to go right if they wish to repeat that achievement. Their first game will be against Iran, a team that should not be taken lightly.
It looks like Nigeria has the toughest group of all African teams. Their opponents are Argentina, Iceland and Croatia. The Super Eagles will start their campaign against Croatia.
Nigeria won 4-2 against Argentina in a friendly last month. They have also faced Leo Messi’s side in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. Iceland, who knocked England out of Euro 2016, will prove to be formidable opponents as well.
Group G contains Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England. Tunisia mainly consists of players who play their club football in domestic leagues. There hasn’t been high hope for them before the draw and that won’t change as they will find it difficult to make it out of a group that contains two giants of European football.
Senegal’s group contains Poland, Colombia and Japan. Given the talented players they have in their squad they should fancy their chances of joining the last 16. Kalidou Koulibaly, Idrissa Gueye, Cheikou Kouyate, Sadio Mané and Keita Balde are some of the names that will make Senegal a force to be reckoned with.