World Cup 2018: Will an African team reach semi-finals for first time?


No African side has gone beyond the quarter-finals at the World Cup

“When I first started to coach Ivory Coast I said to Didier Drogba: ‘We have some fantastic players and we can go far in the World Cup.’ He said: ‘No we can’t’.”

Sven-Goran Eriksson is trying to shed some light on why Africa is still waiting for a first World Cup triumph more than 20 years after Brazil legend Pele predicted a winner from the continent by 2000. By the end of the 2010 World Cup, the Swede understood Drogba was not being negative – just realistic.

“The reason why they don’t do it? One word: organisation. It was total chaos when I joined,” Eriksson told BBC Sport.

At one stage, Pele’s prediction looked like it might come to pass. Nigeria came top of a group featuring Argentina and Diego Maradona at the 1994 edition, while the likes of George Weah and Jay-Jay Okocha were making their mark in Europe during the 1990s.

Yet Africa, the second most-populated continent and a place where football is king, has still to produce a team to advance beyond the quarter-finals – let alone lift the gold trophy.

Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia will compete in Russia later this month – but few believe they will get near the final, including former Cameroon defender Lauren.

“I could say we’ll have a team in the semi-finals but that’s not the reality,” said the two-time Africa Cup of Nations winner. “We’re still behind the top teams.”

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