Thursday Jun 14, 2018. 14:30
African Football will be ranking the Five African teams throughout the Group Stages and hopefully into the Knockout Stages of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
1. Senegal (Up from 3rd to 1st)
Senegal have kept a low profile in their preparations for the World Cup and will go into their opening game with Group favourites Poland as underdogs.
However, if they can keep star striker Robert Lewandowski under wraps and earn a draw in the first game they will fancy their chances against Colombia and Japan in their remaining group games.
On paper Senegal have the best team of the five African teams and if Sadio Mane takes his club form into the tournament Senegal have a chance to replicate their heroics of 2002.
Senegal’s World Cup Group and fixtures here
2. Morocco (Up from 4th to 2nd)
Morocco's head coach Herve Renard[/caption]
Morocco have climbed to second on the AF Power Rankings and that has got nothing to do with their form going into the tournament, but rather the drama unfolding in the camps of their Group B opponents.
Spain sacked coach Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the tournament and the Portuguese team is in disarray due to the ongoing crisis at Sporting Lisbon involving three of their players.
Morocco coach Herve Renard will be banking on three points in their opening game against Iran on Friday and praying that the Iberian powerhouses continue to self destruct.
Morocco’s World Cup Group and fixtures here
3. Nigeria (Down from 1st to 3rd)
[caption id="attachment_750821" align="alignnone" width="580"]
Victor Moses, Nigeria[/caption]
A month ago Nigeria was heading the Power Rankings, but their poor form in their warm up games is causing a confidence problem within the team.
The cohesion coach Gernot Rohr enjoyed in the qualifying campaign has once again been replaced by discontent in the squad.
Croatia, their opponents on Sunday, have enjoyed better form going into the tournament and will look to expose Nigeria’s weakness in defence.
Nigeria’s World Cup Group and fixtures here
4. Egypt (Down from 2nd to 4th)
[caption id="attachment_750822" align="alignnone" width="580"]
Egyptian national soccer team striker Mohamed Salah (L)[/caption]
Egypt has also dropped in the Power Rankings. Without Mohamed Salah their warm up has been disastrous, culminating in a 3-0 drubbing by Belgium last week.
While Salah has been training with the team, it seems unlikely coach Hector Cuper will risk him in the opening game against a physical Uruguayan defence who will no doubt look to do a “Ramos” on the Liverpool star.
Unfortunately, Salah’s return to the starting line up later in the tournament might be too late to rescue Egypt’s World Cup aspirations.
Egypt’s World Cup Group and fixtures here
5. Tunisia (No movement)
[caption id="attachment_750823" align="alignnone" width="580"]
Players of Tunisia attend a training session[/caption]
It is difficult to see Tunisia getting out of Group G.
England, although sporting a young squad, should prove to strong for Nabil Maaloul’s team in their opening game on Tuesday.
Tournament dark horses Belgium are next for the Tunisians and while they should defeat debutants Panama in the final game, that encounter might be a dead rubber.
Tunisia’s World Cup Group and fixtures here