The World Cup has been on for almost a week now here Some of the takeaways so far.
At the time of writing, four African countries have lost in heartbreaking fashion, with Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia having lost in the dying minutes of the games against high profile teams. Morocco lost to Iran and that probably means an end to their chances of progressing from the group with Portugal and Spain. Nigeria also lost to Croatia and with a wounded Messi and Argentina to come, it could get ugly.
The fact that most teams are losing in the last minute shows a level of fatigue. It is hard to see where Africa goes from here, and to be honest this has really disappointed me. This fatigue also shows that probably the teams do not have deep squads and substitutes are not of much assistance either.
Senegal plays last, and while theoretically, they are in a simple group with Japan, Poland, and Colombia, there may not be much to expect. I think they can take on Japan, but Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez Colombia will probably be a bridge too far.
Most of the favorites for the world cup haven’t kicked off yet.
All of Brazil, Germany, Argentina and even Spain have disappointed so far, though Spain played against Portugal drawing 3-3, they would have expected to win. Argentina drew with a weak Iceland, and any slip up against Croatia who beat Nigeria a bit comfortably. England huffed and puffed against Tunisia, winning at the final moments of a game that ended with Tunisia defending almost behind the goal.
It is easy to pinpoint the failings of Argentina who look really poor, but I was surprised by Brazil drawing against Switzerland and Germany losing to Mexico. England looked vibrant against Tunisia but wasteful, and I think Raheem sterling might lose his place in the next game against Panama.
Belgium was also wasteful against Panama that looks a certainty to be one of the worst teams in the tournament, with so many players over 30, it was easy to predict that they will be dropping off in the second half.
I was also really surprised by Russia thrashing Saudi Arabia five nil, and I hope that they can do well against Uruguay and Egypt. It is always important that a host country does well. I have also been very impressed by their stadiums, they will probably be redundant after the world cup, but some of the stadiums like Luzniki stadium are simply breathtaking.
Prospects going forward
I expect that the favorites of the world cup will improve in future, with Brazil, Argentina, England and Spain performing better. I am really pegging on Senegal to beat Japan, Egypt to beat Saudi Arabia who are coming off a traumatic experience where their plane had developed problems. I also think Nigeria to beat Iceland.
Games to look forward are Belgium vs Panama, Nigeria versus Argentina and maybe Senegal versus Colombia. it is really annoying to have four African teams having played and all losing. Hopefully, we get that first win Africa craves. Moments such as Senegal beating France in 2002 or that Cameroon victory against Argentina in 1990 seem like pipe dreams so far.
There will be time for episodes of serious soul searching for African teams after the world cup, but a victory or two will do my heart a world of good.