The Oracle is back – How will Africa fare? (Part 1)

The oracle is back. Those who want to know how Africa will perform at the 2014 World Cup had better keep a date with this page. We have spoken with some renowned persons in the international football media and published their initial impressions. We have also looked at the documents of betting syndicates and experts in the permutations and know what the odds are. They don’t give Africans a chance. Now, it is time to go ‘inside’, into our crystal ball, to see beyond the views of the analysts and the pundits. These are the first fuzzy ‘revelations’! Group A This is the group of Cameroon, Croatia, Mexico and Brazil. Corroborating every data–driven analysis around the world, and not withstanding the expected pressure of being host and of the public protests that will affect the championship and the team’s morale, Brazil will emerge from this group as leader. Can Cameroon join them? It is not generally expected, but it is not impossible also. Like Cameroon, Mexico also have a rich pool of ageing players, particularly in defense. That’s why they only managed at the last moment to qualify for Brazil by playing an inter-continental play-off with New Zealand. Croatia also barely qualified through a similar play-off route against a weak Iceland team. They will be playing under the harsh, unfavourable humidity of Brazil at summer time. So, for Cameroon to qualify from this group may not be quite as far-fetched as a perfunctory look indicates. With their very physical style of play and weather conditions that will favour them, their major challenge will be the past-their-peak army of Indomitable Lions to be led by Samuel Eto. Recall that they also would not have caught the World Cup train but for fate that presented them with three ‘free’ points because Togo defaulted on some technical issue during the qualifying group matches! So, the oracle warns: do not write-off Cameroon even if everything points to the contrary! Group C This is Cote D’Ivoire’s group that includes Colombia, Greece and Japan. Colombia with Falcao (if he recovers enough to play and be effective) would be a huge mountain to climb for any team. Greece are not a world-class team. They came second to an ordinary–playing Bosnia Herzegovina in their European group. The humidity of Brazil will make them easier ‘meat’ for the other teams. Japan will pose a formidable opposition. Their performances during qualification matches and during the 2013 Confederations Cup when they even defeated Italy, make them dangerous customers. Cote D’Ivoire are the most highly rated team in Africa at the moment. They present the only player with the credentials that every team that will go far requires – a leader that presents the additional dimension needed to make a difference! Brazil has Neymar, Argentina has Messi, Portugal has Ronaldo, and Colombia, Falcao. Cote D’Ivoire has Yaya Toure, undoubtedly the best African player of the present era whose presence and performance will influence how far the Elephants go in Brazil 2014. The Ivoriens, even with age catching up with some of their experienced players, have the quality to come out of this relatively weak group. This group is very open, therefore, and the oracle can see some faint outlines of elephants in the distance.

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