Ranking Africa’s World Cup groups based on Fifa Rankings – GOAL English

Which of the continent’s teams officially have the toughest opening World Cup group?
African teams have had some nightmarish draws in the past, with Ivory Coast (on several occasions) and Nigeria in 2002 being almost doomed to a first round elimination before a ball was kicked.
Again this year, Africa’s teams face an uphill struggle to advance to the knockouts, with at least four of the quintet facing ominous group stage draws in Qatar.
Ahead of this weekend’s big kickoff, GOAL’s Ed Dove assesses the five groups containing Africa’s qualifiers and, based on the FIFA World Ranking, ranks them from hardest to easiest.
Based on the Fifa World Rankings, Cameroon have comfortably the toughest group of all of the five African teams; their three opponents have an average ranking of 12.3
Of course, being paired with Brazil in a rematch of their 2014 World Cup group game is ominous, the Selecao are favourites for the tournament and currently the top ranked team in the world.
Switzerland (ranked 15th) and Serbia (ranked 21st) will be vying for second place, but could Cameroon squeeze ahead of the European duo?
Ghana, like Cameroon and Tunisia, have to face a former winner in the opening round after being pitted against Uruguay.
Of course, it’s a bout that takes on added weight for the Black Stars, who were denied a spot in the 2010 semi-finals by Uruguay—and Luis Suarez’s handball—12 years ago.
The South Americans, ranked 14th in the world, may be an ageing force, but they’ll still be out to heap further woe on Ghana.
Portugal, ranked ninth, are favourites to top the group, although 28th-placed South Korea look vulnerable.
Tunisia will have to edge out at least one of the world’s top ten ranked teams if they’re to reach the knockouts for the first time after being drawn against both of France and Denmark in Group D.
France, ranked fourth in the world, are one of the genuine contenders for the title, while tenth-placed Denmark are potential dark horses.
Australia, ranked 38th in the world, are an opportunity for Tunisia to pick up some points, but even they will be testing opponents for the Carthage Eagles.
Morocco have a particularly tough assignment after being pitted against two European heavyweights in Belgium and Croatia.
They’re ranked second and 12th in the world respectively, and as both are coming to the end of two magnificent generations—Croatia even reached the last World Cup final—they’ll be expecting to progress.
Canada, ranked 41st in the world, dramatically lower the average ranking of the Atlas Lions’ three World Cup opponents, but victory over them alone won’t be enough to see the North Africans through.
Senegal have, by some distance, the most straightforward group of the five African teams…and indeed, the ‘easiest’ group in the whole tournament.
The Netherlands, currently ranked eighth in the world, are the toughest team in the group, and will fancy their chances of progression.
Senegal landed on their feet in meeting hosts Qatar, who were the team from Pot One who they were pitted against.
They may have home advantage, but the Asian side are currently ranked 44th in the world, and neither they nor Ecuardor—ranked 50th—should give Senegal sleepless nights, even without Sadio Mane.


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