Among the five African teams in the competition, Senegal is the first to make it to the knockout rounds of the 2022 World Cup. The four other African teams still have a chance to join the Teranga Lions in the last 16 rounds. The West Africans knew that a win against Ecuador would send them through, and goals from Ismaila Sarr and Kalidou Koulibaly gave Aliou Cisse’s men a 2-1 triumph. Morocco and Ghana are also in control of their destiny heading into the last round of group games, but Tunisia and Cameroon must win and then pray for other outcomes to go their way.
If two teams finish with the same number of points, the final group rankings will be determined by goal difference, followed by goals scored, before head-to-head results and fair play records. If the records are still similar, a lot will be drawn to determine who gets through.
Let us now take a look at what other African teams need in order to make it to the next round –
Revenge against Uruguay is all the Black Stars of Ghana need to make it to the next round. Ghana held their composure to defeat South Korea 3-2 on Monday, securing a crucial three points after losing to Portugal by the same scoreline in their opener. The Black Stars’ fate is now in their own hands, and while a draw could be enough if Portugal beats South Korea, the West Africans know that a win over Uruguay in their final match on Friday will be enough to send them through. Because the game is a replay of the 2010 quarter-final, which saw Ghana narrowly lose out on being the first African team to reach the semi-finals, the chance of knocking out Uruguay at the same time adds even more spice to an already enthralling tie.
In an unforgettable match, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez was sent off deep into extra-time for a handball on the goalline to prevent a certain goal, culminating in Asamoah Gyan missing the resulting penalty and the South Americans winning in a shoot-out. Suarez could be one of three survivors from Uruguay’s starting XI in Johannesburg, while Andre Ayew is the lone member of Ghana’s 2010 team in Qatar.
TUNISIA: Three points may not be enough for the Carthage Eagles, who are bottom of Group D following a goalless draw with Denmark and a 1-0 loss to Australia. To have any chance of beating defending champions France, who are already assured of a last-16 spot, the North Africans must score their first goal in Qatar on Wednesday. Even so, if Australia defeats Denmark, that will not be enough. If Tunisia wins and Australia-Denmark draws, they will advance on goal difference, but if Denmark wins, it will come down to goal difference, goals scored, or even, maybe, the fair play record.
CAMEROON: When the Indomitable Lions trailed Serbia 3-1 with half an hour left in their second group game, a Vincent Aboubakar-inspired comeback saw the Central Africans draw 3-3 and give them hope of making it to the next round. Cameroon, like Tunisia, needs a win against one of the world’s giants – in this case, five-time World Cup winners Brazil – in their final game on Friday. The Brazilians have already qualified for the round of 16, but a win for Cameroon, like the North Africans, may not be enough depending on the outcome of the Serbia-Switzerland encounter.
MOROCCO: Morocco’s 2-0 win over Belgium on Sunday puts them in first place in Group F, with four points from two games. A draw against Canada on Thursday will be enough for them to advance to the knockout stages for the second time and the first time since topping their group in 1986. Morocco could win the group if they win and Belgium defeats Croatia in the other match – or if the Atlas Lions and Croatia both win and the North Africans outscore Croatia by two goals.
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