QUICK TAKES: Pulse analysts on African teams at Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup

For Africa’s representatives: Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco, Senegal, and Tunisia, they all know that fooling around in Qatar is definitely off the cards. The goal, as always, would be to become the first African nation to make the semifinals of the competition, perhaps, even go all the way and win the title.

But should this audacious attempt for global glory materialize, it remains unknown.

While having a round table discourse with Pulse editors Izuchukwu Akawor, Joba Ogunwale, and senior reporter Tunde Young, all three revealed what they thought might become of Africa’s representatives in the Asian nation.

GROUP A

Qatar (hosts), Netherlands, Senegal, Ecuador

After three failed attempts at winning the World Cup, Netherlands will try their luck again, starting out from a group that contains Africa’s number one team. For Senegal, Netherlands will not be the only to worry about.

“In terms of the African reps, Senegal got the best draw. They have the best chance of making it to the next round and I expect them to make it out of Group A. It will be a disaster if they don’t.”

“While hosts Qatar will be backed by a home crowd, that should not pose a threat to the Teranga Lions. On paper, the Netherlands are favourites to finish as first, but with the talent in Senegal’s squad, they could push Louis Van Gaal’s men for the top spot.”

“I think the max Senegal can get from Group A is five points. Let’s say Senegal to draw the Netherlands and Ecuador and then defeat the hosts, Qatar. One way or the other, they are beating Qatar. Spoiler alert, expect them to be the only African team in the knockout rounds.”

GROUP D

France, Denmark, Tunisia, Australia

In a group that hosts the World champions, the EURO 2020 quarterfinalists, the 2015 Asian champions all three gentlemen agreed that Tunisia have their work cut out for them. To them, it’s already the end of the road for the Jalel Kadri-coached side.

“In Group D with France, Denmark and Australia? Tunisia have a lot of work to do. In all, it’s a very tricky and difficult draw. If Tunisia can beat Australia, that’s something.”

“Tunisia find itself in the same situation as Morocco. It’s unlikely to see them progress out of a group that has France and Denmark.”

“Tunisia? They would have been done for in any group they were placed in but even more so in Group D. They cannot match the strength of France and Denmark.”

GROUP F

Belgium, Croatia, Morocco, Canada

This group will see Canada return to the World stage since making their first appearance in 1986, as well as, two of the 2018’s four semifinalists. However, the question remains Morocco. What can they achieve?

“Morocco have an experienced coach but, that group? Do you see that group? [scoffs]. It’s difficult to see beyond Belgium and Croatia qualifying.”

“Morocco are an exciting team, but they have not gotten the easiest of draws. They’ll need to get a result against one of Belgium or Croatia, which is going to be difficult. Canada, are very talented, they will also make things difficult for the Atlas Lions.”

“Morocco’s game against Canada will be a fun watch. It can swing either way. But should they lose to Belgium and Croatia, it puts them in a precarious situation. The truth is that they are unlucky to be in, arguably, the toughest group.”

GROUP G

Brazil, Switzerland, Serbia, Cameroon

Cameroon’s future do not look entirely bright as they are paired with five-time champions Brazil. It remains unknown, however, if they could take solace in their other games against Switzerland and Serbia.

“Cameroon seems to have the next best chance, but Serbia and Switzerland aren’t going to be easy meats to chew. To be honest, I’d say Brazil and Switzerland to go through.”

“Cameroon also had a difficult draw on paper. Brazil are expected to finish top of the group, which means they (Cameroon) will have to battle Switzerland and Serbia for the second spot. But remember that these sides finished top ahead of Italy and Portugal in their qualifiers.”

“Cameroon are just not good at football, even worse, under Rigobert Song. I expect them to finish without a point nor score a single goal in Group G.”

GROUP H

Portugal, Uruguay, South Korea, Ghana

Group H will be all about Ghana attempting to get their pound of flesh after Luis Suarez did them dirty in South Africa in 2010 and stopped them from making the semifinals. Izuchukwu calls this ‘the biggest African talking point’.

“The Black Stars rekindling that rivalry with Uruguay, with Luis Suarez back to haunt them again? This is outrightly the biggest talking point from an African point of view. I see Mohamed Kudus and Thomas Partey inspiring a party in Qatar. Ghana to pick one of two tickets”

“While it’s not the kindest draw for Ghana, it’s a group they can navigate with a little bit of luck. They’ll be looking for revenge against Uruguay, but the opening match against Portugal is not the best game to start with”.

“Ghana would most likely have been in trouble wherever they landed [something Tunde said for Tunisia]. Worse? They are now in Group H where they will be the whipping boys. Bottom of the group without a single point or goal, yes!”