Cameroon gets Neymar
Ivory Coast gets Falcao
Nigeria gets Messi
Ghana gets Ronaldo
Algeria gets Hazard.
This was what first sprung to mind when the Draw for the FIFA World Cup 2014 was made and concluded in Bahia, Brazil earlier today.
As the names came out of the hat and slots were allocated, it became apparent that this World Cup will not be a walk in the park for any of the teams.
Take a look at some mouth-watering prospects in world football.
A repeat of the 2010 World Cup final will be the opening game of Group B – Spain v Netherlands.
Leave that and go to the opening game in Group D – to be played in the city of Manaus – 1,750 miles from Rio de Janeiro deep in the Amazon rain forest – England v Italy.
And then in Salvador on 16 June, the mighty Germany v Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal will be the opener in Group G.
Anywhere you turn to in the vast nation that is Brazil, there will be great match-ups in football’s flagship competition.
Our African teams have their work cut out. And it is time that CAF President and pioneer Hall of Fame member Issa Hayatou makes his words come true by pulling the five nations together if Africa will come out of Brazil 2014 in good colours.
Cameroon is drawn in the group of the hosts, Brazil. Cameroon is going through a resurgence now, and would have to battle Mexico and Croatia as well if they want to come out of that group. Not easy, but not impossible.
Cote d’Ivoire can be said to have the relatively easier of the draw – pitted in the same group as Colombia, Greece and Japan. The Ivorians have the ability and the players. But they have always failed to rise to the big occasion. Can this be their year?
Nigeria has its work cut out. For their third consecutive World Cup appearance, they are drawn in the same group as Argentina – four of the five times Nigeria have been in the World Cup, they have been in the same group as Argentina (1994, 2-1 loss; 2002, 0-1 loss and 2010, 0-1 loss). They will take solace in the fact that they have to play a relatively weaker Iranian team and then fight it out with Bosnia-Herzegovinia. Again, a tricky one for the African champions, but doable.
Ghana’s Black Stars are as inseparable from the USA, as Nigeria is from Argentina, or so it seems. Ghana and USA have played in both World Cups that Ghana has been in – both resulting in Ghana wins. The Black Stars must take some confidence and psychological boost from that. However, it is their games against the Germans (to whom they lost 0-1 in South Africa in 2010) and Portugal that will be most worrying for them. They certainly need a lot of work in preparation to overcome and emerge from this group. Good luck to the Stars.
Algeria quietly strode into the World Cup finals. They did nothing spectacular but were very professional and effective in their approach. Such discipline will be needed to keep out the buoyant, youthful and extremely talented Belgians, and then contend with South Korea and Russia. Another one that can be done, but will need hard work and dedication.
More Reaction, Analyses and Previews (RAP) coming on our pages. Look out.
The full groups:
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
|Group E||Group F||Group G||Group H|