FEATURE: African World Cup Moments – Episode Five
Just hours before the start of the biggest footballing event on the planet – the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia – KingFut presents the final installment of African World Cup Moments, a series that will highlight the most iconic moments in the history of African nations’ participation in the global showpiece tournament.
Despite the fact that none of the continent’s sides have managed to make it to the semi-final stage, throughout history, there have been some outstanding highs and devastating lows for African teams at the FIFA World Cup.
South Africa 2010: South Africa become first-ever African hosts
The 2010 World Cup became the first of only two World Cups that the host continent was decided on a rotation basis. On July 7, 2001, the decision was ratified at the FIFA Congress and the rotation would begin with Africa for the 2010 World Cup. There were five bids coming from Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, and a joint bid from Tunisia and Libya. However, Nigeria withdrew their bid in September 2003 before it was revealed that they hoped to put forth a joint bid with fellow Western African nations Benin, Ghana, and Tongo. Tunisia and Libya also withdrew their bid after FIFA confirmed joint bids would not be allowed on May 8, 2004.
A week later, South Africa won the hosting rights for the 2010 World Cup after receiving 14 votes. Morocco came in second place with 10 votes, while Egypt did not receive a single vote. Five years after the World Cup, the 2015 FIFA corruption case led to reports that the hosting rights for the 2010 World Cup had been subject to bribes and that Morocco should have been the hosts. “I and others on the Fifa executive committee agreed to accept bribes in conjunction with the selection of South Africa as the host nation for the 2010 World Cup,” Chuck Blazer confirmed.
South Africa 2010: Infamous qualifiers between Egypt and Algeria
A golden generation that had won two African Cup of Nations in a row (third was just a few months away), had one last piece left in the puzzle to cement itself as the best in Egyptian history, qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. The Pharaohs reached the final round after receiving a bye in the first round and finishing top of Group 12 in the second round. Drawn into Group C with fellow North African’s Algeria, Zambia, and Rwanda, Egypt began its third round with a 1-1 draw at home against Zambia in March 2009. But all eyes were on two games in the group, Egypt vs Algeria and Algeria vs Egypt. Marred by political implications, the matches held more meaning than just qualifying to the coveted competition. With nerves high and fans passionate, Egypt lost the first game in Algeria 3-1 with Karim Matmour, Abdelkader Ghezzal, and Rafik Djebbour scoring for the Fennecs and Mohamed Aboutreika for Egypt. In the last match of the group stages the two sides meant once again in Cairo with the Pharaohs coming out on top with Amr Zakia and Emad Meteb scoring.
However, since Egypt and Algeria were level on points and all the tiebreaker criteria, a play-off game had to be played to determine who would be on the plane to South Africa. Continued tensions between fans and federations continued as the match was scheduled for November 18, 2009 in Sudan as neutral land. An intense first half saw Egypt dominate possession, but Antar Yahia was left unmarked and was able to put away a loose ball in the area. The Pharaohs continued to dominate in the second half, but Algeria qualified to their first World Cup since 1986.
South Africa 2010: Ghana’s quarter-final finish ends with controversy
The Black Stars returned to the World Cup after finishing in the Round of 16 in 2006. Drawn into Group D alongside Germany, Australia, and Serbia, Ghana opened their journey in South Africa with a 1-0 win over Serbia after Asamoah Gyan scored from the spot in the 85th minute. In their second match the Black Stars came from behind to draw with Australia 1-1. Gyan once against scored a penalty while Brett Holman scored Australia’s goal. Even though Germany beat Ghana 1-0 in the final match, Serbia’s 2-1 loss to Australia meant Ghana qualified for the Round of 16.
In the Round of 16, Ghana faced Group C winners United States and shocked the Stars and Stripes. Kevin-Prince Boateng opened the scoring in the fifth minute before Landon Donovan equalized in the 62nd minute from the spot. It took only three minutes into the first half of extra time for Gyan to score his third goal in the tournament and to send Ghana to the quarter-finals against Uruguay. However, the match was marred by heavy controversy as Ghana lost 4-2 on penalties. Two minutes into the injury time of the first half, Suleyman Muntari put the Black Stars ahead. Yet, Diego Forlán equalized just ten minutes into the second half. With the game still tied, it went to extra time where controversy reined the end. In the closing minutes, Luis Suárez blocked Stephen Appiah’s shot with his hand and was sent off. However, Gyan missed the ensuing penalty and the game went to a penalty shoot-out where the Black Stars lost 4-2.
Brazil 2014: Algeria’s historic Round of 16 finish
A surprise omission from this year’s competition, Algeria shocked the world with their performance in Brazil 2014. The Fennecs were drawn into Group H alongside Belgium, Russia, and South Korea. In their first match against Belgium, Sofiane Feghouli won and scored a penalty to put Algeria ahead. However, they would eventually succumb to the Red Devils after two second half goals from Marouane Fellaini and Dries Mertens. Five days later, Algeria cruised past South Korea to put themselves in great position to qualify to the next round, something no one expected from the side. It took 38 minutes for the Fennecs to go 3-0 up behind goals form Slimani, Halliche, and Djabou. Though Son Heung-min scored just five minutes into the second half for South Korea, a goal for Brahimi all but put the game to bed before Koo Ja-cheol scored a second for the Taegeuk Warriors.
With results elsewhere, a draw against Russia would potentially be enough for Algeria to become only the second North African nation to qualify to the Round of 16. And that’s exactly what they did. After going behind in the sixth minute when Kokorin scored, Slimani tied the game at the hour mark and sent Algeria to the next round. But after finishing second in their group, Algeria met eventual winners Germany in the Round of 16. A strong performance through the entire match saw the two sides drawn 0-0 at the end of regulation. However, Shurrle and Ozil both scored in extra time before Djabou scored a consolation goal in the dying minutes of the match to send Germany to the quarter-finals. Although it was a disappointing end to their campaign, Algeria showed their high quality throughout the tournament.
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