Where do the continent’s teams stand as Qatar approaches?


This worldwide window represents a remaining golden alternative for Africa’s 5 World Cup-bound groups so as to add ending touches to their match preparations, and combine new gamers into the fold, earlier than the kick-off in Qatar on November 20.

None of Africa’s quintet are the whole bundle heading to Qatar, with every of the 5 sides nonetheless having clear areas to work on and issues to unravel earlier than the match.

Forward of this worldwide window, ESPN assesses the unanswered questions and the problems to resolve for every of Africa’s Large 5.

Ghana – How does Otto Addo combine the brand new twin internationals?

The Black Stars’ enchancment for the reason that Africa Cup of Nations initially of the 12 months, after they crashed out within the group stage with only one level, has been very good, as a change of regime has ushered in a brand new tradition, contemporary gamers, and a rediscovered optimism.

As such, they may head to Qatar in wonderful fettle, with competitors throughout the pitch, some key gamers in wonderful kind, and a wholesome mix of expertise and youth.

Addo, credited with masterminding their bounce again following the AFCON and their playoff conquer Nigeria, has been influential in convincing a number of twin nationality gamers to commit their worldwide futures to Ghana — naturally utilizing the attract of taking part in within the World Cup to the nation’s benefit.

He should now be sure that the inflow of latest faces — 5 gamers might debut for the staff in opposition to Brazil on Friday — does not destabilise the camp and create tensions amongst those that ensured Ghana certified for Qatar within the first place.

Their late introduction to the squad is worryingly harking back to Ghana’s choice to recall the likes of Michael Essien, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari throughout the remaining stage of the 2014 World Cup qualifying marketing campaign, an act which preceded a match rife with controversy, rifts and infighting.

There should not be a lot drama this time round, though Addo has some powerful choices to make about whether or not he parachutes the trio of Tariq Lamptey, Mohammed Salisu and Inaki Williams straight into his beginning XI.

Salisu has been delivering stronger performances at membership degree than both of the first-choice centre-back duo Daniel Amartey and Alexandre Djiku, though both of that pairing would really feel exhausting performed by to be dropped after conceding simply as soon as throughout the 180-minute playoff in opposition to the Tremendous Eagles.

The Ayew brothers began up prime collectively for the ill-fated remaining AFCON group recreation in opposition to the Comoros, and one imagines neither would take being reduce for Williams — two targets in La Liga up to now this season — too magnanimously.

The brand new arrivals actually enhance Ghana’s high quality, however they’ve left Addo with some delicate choices to make — this worldwide window ought to supply a glimpse as to the top coach’s plan of motion.

Thus far, he is resisted some far-fetched calls to recall Asamoah Gyan — Africa’s all-time prime scorer on the World Cup — though presidential intervention ensured Child Jet went to the 2019 AFCON, and an analogous situation is not unimaginable this time round.

Addo should additionally handle the health of star midfielder Thomas Partey. He is been instructed by Arsenal on the optimum routine to present the 29-year-old the most effective probability of staying wholesome, and people of each a Black Stars or a Gunners persuasion might be praying that the delicate midfielder navigates the worldwide window with out additional harm setback.

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Mark Ogden experiences from exterior the Lusail Stadium, which is able to host the World Cup remaining.

Morocco – Can Regragui Help Atlas Lions flip a brand new leaf?

Morocco have established themselves because the bastion for good governance and professionalism in African soccer lately, and so by their requirements, parting methods with head coach Vahid Halilhodzic simply three months earlier than the beginning of the nation’s sixth World Cup look was not a part of the plan.

But the Bosnian coach’s dealing with of among the squad’s most excessive profile stars was a persistent drawback throughout his reign, with the proficient trio of Hakim Ziyech, Noussair Mazraoui and Amine Harit all lacking the Nations Cup after falling foul of the 69-year-old.

On the time, the FRMF stood with their supervisor — prompting Ziyech to announce his worldwide retirement — however because the World Cup approached, the federation steadily ran out of persistence for Halilhodzic’s fractious method.

His substitute, Walid Regragui has no expertise at this degree — his solely earlier teaching job exterior Morocco was with Qatari aspect Al-Duhail — however he has a popularity as an ready tactician.

He guided Wydad Casablanca to the Champions League crown by taking part in a direct, counter-attacking model with a inflexible defensive construction.

He has the instruments to copy this profitable technique with Morocco, and this worldwide break ought to display how intently Regragui will try to copy his Wydad mannequin with a way more proficient group.

The federation might be anticipating him to get the most effective out of star names like Ziyech, Achraf Hakimi and Youssef En-Nesyri, whereas the brand new man should additionally assess replacements for injured centre-back Zayef Aguerd.

Senegal – Do the Lions of Teranga nonetheless have momentum?

When the World Cup draw was made in April, Senegal regarded comfortably to be the African staff finest positioned to achieve the knockouts. As Africa’s reigning champions, they have been coming off the again of a wonderful marketing campaign in Cameroon – with high quality throughout the park, and have been buoyed by a beneficial draw.

The optimism has light just a little now, and positively, head coach Aliou Cisse should give attention to producing momentum throughout this worldwide break following a substantial turnover of gamers during the last six months.

Of the ten gamers who began the AFCON remaining in opposition to Egypt, three should not even within the squad for this worldwide break, with Bouna Sarr injured, Famara Diedhiou recovering from harm, and Saliou Ciss with no membership.

Sarr and Ciss’s absences imply it is all-change for Senegal at full-back, and an space of power for the aspect tha gained the AFCON has turn out to be an space of weak spot.

Youssef Sabaly, Ciss’s substitute, can be out with a muscle drawback, and his would-be deputy Noah Fadiga may also miss out on his first cap after being concussed in a latest Ligue 1 recreation in opposition to Ajaccio.

It is left Cisse with no recognised right-back within the squad for this worldwide break, and he might have to show to midfielder Moustapha Identify on this unfamiliar place.

Elsewhere, key gamers Idrissa Gueye, Bamba Dieng and Nampalys Mendy have performed only one league recreation between all of them season, whereas Ismaila Sarr and new invitee Moussa Niakhate are out with harm.

There are issues about Sadio Mane and Edouard Mendy’s latest kind, and the latter might be unable to get again into the groove this week after choosing up a knee grievance.

Senegal aren’t wanting as robust or as settled as they did earlier within the 12 months, and there is a lot for Cisse to fret about with the World Cup lower than two months away.

Cameroon – What’s going to Eto’o do subsequent?

Such is the persistent intrigue round headline-generating FECAFOOT president Samuel Eto’o, that he has firmly turn out to be Cameroon nationwide staff’s primary speaking level but once more.

For latest Indomitable Lions fixtures, the nation’s biggest participant has courted controversy by telling his gamers to ‘put together for struggle’ in opposition to Egypt, solely days after the Olembe Stadium stampede claimed the lives of eight supporters in Yaounde, and studying his gamers the riot act after their underwhelming victory over Burundi in June.

These may also be the primary fixtures for Cameroon since Eto’o unilaterally determined to terminate their contract with sports activities producer Le Coq Sportif and exchange them with little recognized One All Sport.

As but, no new house package has been formally launched, and this choice might but have long term penalties for the controversial Eto’o.

On the sector, coach Rigobert Tune has opted to relaxation influential midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, whereas skilled Eric-Maxim Choupo Moting has additionally been dropped as he works his method again to health with Bayern Munich.

What can Brentford’s Bryan Mbeumo contribute after making his choice to swap France for the Indomitable Lions?

Tunisia – Can Carthage Eagles set up World Cup blueprint in opposition to Brazil?

Tunisia, like Ghana, will meet Brazil throughout the worldwide break in some of the high-profile friendlies within the nation’s historical past.

In an African context, all of us recognized what Tunisia are able to; they hardly ever exhibit exhilarating attacking soccer, however have stored clear sheets of their final seven matches and can symbolize stern opponents for his or her Group D foe.

The match in opposition to Brazil is a chance for Tunisia to display that they’ll stymie and neutralise among the finest attackers on this planet recreation — the Selecao will be capable to name upon Neymar, Vinicius Junior and Antony amongst others — which ought to serve them effectively forward of their group assembly with France.

If Tunisia are to transcend the group stage for the primary time of their historical past, then their notorious defensive resolve might want to see them via a troublesome opening spherical task in Qatar. A constructive end result in opposition to Brazil might present a blueprint to make historical past in Qatar.

In a perfect world, the Carthage Eagles’ most excessive profile gamers — most of whom are based mostly within the Center East and North Africa — would show that they may give a bloody nostril to one of many World Cup contenders… however that could be an excessive amount of to ask.

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