As the world’s biggest football fiesta rolls into life in Brazil today, some renowned local soccer figures have tipped Ghana’s Black Stars to defy the odds and reach the final stages.
Apart from the Black Stars of Ghana, Africa’s other representatives at the global football showcase are Ivory Coast’s Elephants, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, Algeria’s Desert Foxes and Super Eagles of Nigeria.
In separate interviews meant to name two African teams that have potential to do well in Brazil, Flames legends Young Chimodzi, Ernest Mtawali and Peter Mponda alongside former FAM general secretary Charles Nyirenda mentioned Ghana as the team that could do wonders.
“In my view, Ghana look set to break the jinx and go as far as the semi-finals this time around.
“They appear quite determined and hungry. The other team could be Ivory Coast because they have been together for a long time and they have quality players,” said Chimodzi, who is also Flames coach.
Mtawali also tipped Ivory Coast and Ghana.
“Ivory Coast could be disadvantaged by the age of most of their key players such as Didier Drogba, Yaya and Kolo Toure and consistency could prove to be a challenge. However, they can’t be ruled out. They have a quality team that has been together for a while and this will be the last chance for most of them to shine at such a big stage.
“Having said that, Ghana will be the surprise package, they have a big heart and they have shown their preparedness during the build-up,” saidMtawali, the current Under-20 national soccer team coach.
However, Nyirenda ruled out Ivory Coast’s chances of going far in the competition due to the same reason of age.
“To me, I would put my money on all the other African teams to perform wonders except for Ivory Cost.
“But the teams I feel can qualify for the final stages are Ghana and Cameroon if they can remain focused and give out something extra because they appear organised and ready for the big job, they are raring to go,” said Nyirenda.
Mponda said: “I am not too sure about an African team breaking the jinx this time around, but I think if there is a team that can pull a surprise then it is Ghana. They possess a strong mental strength to surpass their previous record in the quadrennial football showpiece.
“For a team to beat South Korea 4-0 with such ease, speaks volumes about their level of preparedness, but I think Ivory Coast and Cameroon could also rise to the occasion.”
Dutch football legend Ruud Gullit who coached some top clubs in Europe after a glittering playing career is confident Cameroon could join Ghana to be Africa’s best team at the competition while Former Chelsea manager Avram Grant has predicted a successful outing for the five African teams at this year’s Fifa World Cup.
“I certainly believe that Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Nigeria might even go further,” Grant told Cafonline.com.