By Aristo Dotse, London
Former England manager Terry Venables says only Ghana and Ivory Coast out of the five African teams at Brazil 2014 World Cup finals will advance from the Group stage.
Giving his verdict on the 32 teams following the 2014 World Cup draw last Friday, the 70-year-old who is now working as a media pundit in England tipped the Ivorian Elephants to join Ghana’s Black Stars this time in making the second round, leaving the other three teams – Cameroon, Nigeria and Algeria – to exit at the group stage.
“Ghana sealed a place in their third successive finals with an impressive play-off win over Egypt. Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari and Kelvin-Prince Boateng give them plenty of experience in the middle and this will propel them to the last 16,” said the man who led England to the semi-finals of the 1996 European Championships.
He added:” Cote d’Ivoire boast some of the best players in Africa with Didier Drogba, Kalou and Yaya Toure, but have never made it past the group stage. They will be confident of progress though this time to the last 16.”
Venables, who tips Ghana and Germany to go through in Group G and Cote D’Ivoire and Colombia to make it from Group C, is however not sure of progress for the likes of Cameroon (in Group A with Brazil, Croatia and Mexico), Nigeria (in Group F with Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran) and Algeria in (Group H with Belgium, Russia and South Korea).
He observed:”In their seventh finals, The Indomitable Lions have familiar players in Eto’o, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Song. But they need to be in top form though to avoid an early exit from the group stage – which is most likely.”
On Nigeria, he said, ?The Super Eagles are still on a high after winning the African Nations Cup and going undefeated in qualifying – then beating Ethiopia in a play-off. However, prediction for them is last 16.”
“Algeria held England to a 0-0 draw at the last World Cup in South Africa and qualified here by beating Burkina-Faso in a play-off. But I don’t see them reaching the knock-out rounds.”
The five African teams at Brazil 2014 are the same, plus host South Africa, which represented Africa in the last World Cup at South Africa 2010, with Ghana the only side that progressed from the group stage and went on to reach the quarter-finals, only missing the semi-finals by a whisker to Uruguay.