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Sports Features of Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Source: FRANCIS TAWIAH

Can Ghana As An African Nation Actually Win The World Cup?

Must the World Cup wait for years before it could come to an African nation, how long will it take for an African nation to lift the trophy?
Could the fact that the greatest soccer tournament on earth is taking place on the African continent be the final incentive needed for one of its teams to step out of the shadow of the Europeans and South Americans?
Brazil legend Pele famously made a prediction that an African nation would lift the World Cup by the end of the 20th century. He may have been proved wrong but it wasn't through want of trying by the Afrcians. African teams have been steadily improving and their biggest stars are no longer just local legends but among the biggest names in world football. Is it therefore time for a Didier Drogba (if fit) or Samuel Eto'o to raise the trophy aloft now that the continent has come just as far?
South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and the Ivory Coast all carry the hopes of their individual nations and the continent as a whole coming into the 2010 World Cup, but in reality, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and perhaps the host nation stand the best chance of reaching the latter stages.
The Ivory Coast, now under the guidance of former England and Mexico coach Sven Goran Eriksson; have been unfairly called a one-man team. While Drogba is hugely influential, as striker and captain, it is an insult to the likes of Emmanuel Eboue, Aruna Dindane, Salmon Kalou and the brothers Kolo and Yaya Touré to suggest that the Elephants will struggle if Drogba fails to recover from a broken arm.

Ivory Coast needs to be at their best
Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba is hugely inspirational but the Elelphants are far from a one-man team, the Elephants find themselves in a group with Brazil, Portugal and North Korea. Victory over North Korea should be expected but getting past Brazil and Portugal will be much harder. It is a daunting task.
But why shouldn't the Ivory Coast escape the Group of Death at the expense of Kaka or Cristiano Ronaldo? While Brazil and Portugal have hugely talented squads, the Elephants also boast players from the English and Spanish champions as well as stars from other top teams from around Europe.
If they can get through as the second qualifying team in Group G they could face European champions Spain, the likely winners of Group H. That would be an even more daunting task and one which may be too much for the Elephants to contend with. Qualifying from Group G would be an achievement in itself but the Ivory Coast may find the going too tough in the knock-out round.







Black Stars hoping to qualify with Germany


Ghana's Black Stars have high hopes of progressing but won't be drawn on their title credentials
Ghana is regularly spoken about as a future World Cup winning nation but questions still remain about whether that future is here and now. The Ghanaians themselves are keeping out of the debate over whether they can lift the trophy but are still confident of making the latter stages.
The Black Stars made it to the last 16 in Germany in 2006 and this year have a much stronger squad, despite the loss of influential skipper Michael Essien and fitness concerns over Inter Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari.
Hopes are high of at least a semi-final placing in 2010 but first they will have to qualify from Group D, which also features Serbia, Germany and Australia. With the Germans expected to go through as group winners, Ghana cannot afford to slip up if they want to reach the knock-out stages.

FRANCIS TAWIAH (Duisburg - Germany)