There was added interest in the 2010 African Cup Of Nations in January with many nations’ fans looking out for their group opponents at the forthcoming World Cup in South Africa. Many pundits are tipping an African nation to make it to the semi finals this year but is this the year they are finally going to fulfill their potential?
Home nations in particular but also teams playing in their own continent to a lesser extent have always enjoyed an advantage at the World Cup, Brazil are the only team to have won the World Cup in a different continent which shows just how difficult it can be.
According to the latest World Cup Betting Odds, the African team most likely to make a splash in South Africa are not the hosts, but Ivory Coast, despite being drawn in the Group Of Death alongside Brazil and Portugal. Ivory coast will probably come above Portugal as they look very much out of sorts but unless Ivory Coast win the group, finishing ahead of Brazil, they are likely to face Spain in the Second Round and that should end their chances.
So if the bookies’ best African team can’t get past the Second Round which other African team stands the best chance? Surely the answer to that is South Africa. We have seen host nations completely overperform in the home nation, South Korea certainly did so when they reached the Semi Final in 2002. People look at South Africa’s recent results and see some 1-0 losses and 0-0 draws against fairly poor opposition but they didn’t use many of their stars for those games and at the World Cup, with a full strength team, in front of their own fans, they should perform well. Being drawn in Group A is also a blessing, the first half of the World Cup draw is the weakest and they could get a favourable path to the Quarter Finals.
Of the other African teams at the World Cup, Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria, all have fair chances of getting to the Second Round at least, apart from perhaps Algeria who have England and USA in their group. England may have to completely fail to justify their England World Cup Odds to fail to qualify from that group.
As for an African World Cup Semi Finalist, this is probably the best chance so far but it still seems unlikely unless the hosts can get a run together. The Africans may have to settle for the Quarter Final in 2010.