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2022 World Cup: The best African sides in World Cup history

Morroco coach Vahid Halilhodzic believes it will take another decade for an African team to win the World Cup.

No African side has ever progressed beyond the quarter-finals, although Senegal boast a squad capable of changing history in Qatar.

As the World Cup edges closer, Park Life Sport has taken a look at the best African sides in World Cup history, and whether Senegal have what it takes to progress far in the upcoming finals.

Cameroon – 1990

Roger Milla was one of the main stories of the 1990 World Cup.

The then 38-year-old came out of retirement to score four goals as Cameroon reached the quarter-finals of the 1990 World Cup.

He became famed for his popular goal celebration after he danced around the corner flag for each of his goals at the tournament.

Cameroon defeated reigning champions Argentina to register an iconic win in their opening game, consolidating their victory over La Albiceleste by emerging as 2-1 victors over Romania.

Although the euphoria was tainted by a 4-0 defeat at the hands of the Soviet Union, Cameroon recovered with Milla scoring twice in two minutes in extra-time to eliminate Colombia.

Cameroon led 2-1 until the 83rd minute against England when Gary Lineker’s converted penalty rescued the Three Lions from a quarter-final exit.

Lineker scored from the spot once again in extra-time as England edged an entertaining tie 3-2 in Naples.

Nigeria – 1994

Nigeria developed into a talented outfit during the 1990s with their all-time top scorer Rashidi Yekini, Champions League winner Finidi George and former Barcelona forward Emmanuel Amunike in their squad.

They comfortably condemned Bulgaria to a 3-0 defeat in their opening match and led Argentina until Claudio Caniggia’s brace completed a turnaround for the South American giants.

A 2-0 win over Greece guaranteed their place at the summit of Group D although Roberto Baggio scored twice in a 2-1 victory for Italy in the Round of 16.

Nigeria had won the African Cup of Nation earlier that year and famously defeated an Argentinian side containing Diego Simeone, Javier Zanetti and Hernan Crespo to win gold at the 1996 Summer Olympics.

Senegal – 2002

Senegal’s victory over defending champions France remains one of the most shocking results in World Cup history.

France boasted a wealth of world-renowned talent with the likes of Lilian Thuram, Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry in their ranks.

They were fresh off the back of winning the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 but capitulated in their opening match at the 2002 World Cup.

The late Papa Bouba Diop scored the only goal of the match on the half-hour mark to earn Senegal an historic win.

They built on their victory over the French with back-to-back draws against Denmark and Uruguay respectively.

Victory over Sweden courtesy of Henri Camara’s brace guided them to the quarter-finals, before they were knocked out by Turkey.

Ghana – 2010

Ghanaians must still wince at the sight of Asamoah Gyan blazing his extra-time penalty onto the crossbar. Steven Appiah’s strike was destined to ripple the net until Luis Suarez infamously punched the ball off the goal line. Gyan squandered the chance to confirm Ghana as the first African nation in history to reach the World Cup semi-finals.

Suarez rubbed salt into the wounds by emerging from the tunnel in celebration when Uruguay prevailed in the subsequent penalty shoot-out. The Uruguayan’s antics may have dominated the headlines but the Ghana’s performance at the 2010 World Cup was among the best ever produced by an African nation.

Spearheaded by an effervescent Gyan, Ghana triumphed over Serbia, before securing their passage to the knockout phase with a 1-1 draw against Australia.

It must also be remembered that Ghana were without Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien due to injury.

Despite this, Gyan scored his third goal at the finals to guide Ghana to a 2-1 victory over the United States after extra-time in the Round of 16.

Senegal: 2022?

Senegal boast the best chances of progressing the furthest at the 2022 World Cup. They head into the tournament fresh off the back of winning the African Cup of Nations in January.

The Lions of Teranga have lost just twice in their last 27 games across all competitions and are managed by Aliou Cisse – who was key to their Round of 16 finish in 2002.

They also have an incredible squad with European stars in virtually every position. Kalidou Koulibaly can prove an unsurpassable force at the back at his best, while Eduoard Mendy has showcased his quality since joining Chelsea in 2020.

Idrissa Gueye is an orchestrator in the heart of midfield and Liverpool’s legendary Sadio Mane became Senegal’s joint all-time top scorer at the African Cup of Nations.

They also have a favourable group with the Netherlands proving their most difficult opposition. Many will expect them to edge past hosts Qatar and Ecuador and challenge the top sides this winter.

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