By Obi Enweze Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
When the World Cup was played in South Africa, my bold predictions on the bright fortunes of African Nations were wrong. This time around, I can speak more dispassionately, because, of course, the game is not on African soil.
Of all the African nations, Nigeria has the absolute best chance to advance. For once in a long time, the god of selection flashed a wide smile on Nigeria. The Eagles, in all likelihood will finish ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina and a notoriously lacklustre Iran, but behind Argentina.
When Nigeria played a friendly with USA, the Eagles displayed poor finishing skill once they got to the 18-yard box. Soccer these days is a little bit of geometry, physics and algebra. The days of raw skill are over. In the friendly, they showed lack of concentration, possibly due to jetlag which will not be the case in Brazil. Coach Stephen Keshi may replace Joseph Yobo, who missed his assignments by a wild margin in friendly matches.
Cameroon can only advance with a lot of hard work and some luck. Cameroon can easily finish ahead of Mexico who made it to Brazil after being on the verge of elimination. However, Croatia is another animal, but it can be done. Brazil will top the group.
Cameroon is seeking back her soccer glory days, far gone when people like Roger Milla retired. However, they have a chance if they feed the ball more to Samuel Eto’o, nicknamed Little Milla. Eto’o may be playing his last World Cup at 33 and has been complaining about fellow Cameroonian players not passing the ball to him, a big mistake if you ask me.
Algeria has five very skilful players. Leading that group is Sofiane Feghouli who has proved himself in Spain with some impressive performances at Valencia. This group is a toss-up, and Algeria has a good chance to secure a second round berth over Russia, Belgium and South Korea
Resilient Ghana will finish ahead of USA and Portugal!
When Ghana defeated USA in last outings, it was the ground work of Asamaoh Gyan. This time, USA, Portugal and in fact Germany have to worry about another maestro in 22-year-old Jordan Ayew, the son of Abedi Pele, Ghana and African great. The pedigree is there. Ayew scored three times in a friendly against South Korea after entering the game as an injury replacement.
Ghana will do well if they escape the first round.
The USA friendly where they outplayed and defeated Nigeria was billed as a practice designed to provide the USA a replica of what they will see in Ghana. Surprise! This time the stakes are higher and Ghana is NOT exactly Nigeria.
Expect England to falter once again, leaving the country that has invested so much in soccer, railing and scratching their head.
- Enweze played football at UNN, Enugu Campus.