On Tuesday 29 November 2022, Senegal became the first African soccer team to qualify for the round of 16. Senegal needed a win to qualify. Having lost their first game to the Netherlands by two dying-minute goals, Senegal bounced back in their second game beating the host nation Qatar 3 – 1.
With Ecuador winning their first game against the host nation and brawling it out to a 1 – 1 draw against the Netherlands, they only needed a point going into the last game to qualify. From the first minute of the game, the African champions showed their intent by pressing hard against Ecuador.
With one minute left to play in the first half, Ismaila Sarr was brought down in the 18-yard box by the Ecuadorian defense. The referee awarded a penalty and Sarr calmly slotted it into the bottom right corner. The Ecuadorian goalie could only watch as the ball rolled behind the net.
However, 22 minutes into the second half, the Ecuadorians got their first corner kick of the game. After several heads touched the ball, it fell nicely for Moises Caicedo who tapped it in. Barely two minutes later, Senegal got a freekick about midway from the right side of the center mark. It was whipped into the 18-yard box by a Senegalese player.
An Ecuadorian player headed the ball into Kalidou Koulibaly who volleyed it into the net. It was the perfect response. The game remained tense with actions on both ends until the referee blew the whistle to end the game.
With that win over Ecuador, Senegal moved to second place on the table behind the Netherlands and qualified for the round of 16. The win also saw Senegal become the first African soccer team to qualify for the round of 16.
Other African soccer teams that can still make it to the round of 16
With the World Cup in the last round of group matches, the fate of most countries is already sealed. Regardless of a win in the last game, Canada is already out of the competition having lost their first two games. Coming down to African soccer teams, some have their fate in their hands going into the last group games.
Others will have to win their game while hoping that their closes point rival lose to their opponents. Below are the African soccer teams that can still qualify for the next round of games.
Among all the African soccer teams, Tunisia has the least chance of making it to the round of 16. Currently at the bottom of Group D, Tunisia has 1 point after a 0 – 0 draw against Denmark in their first game. They lost the second game by a lone goal to Australia which further compounded their problems.
In their last game, they will play against France who is currently leading the group with 6 points. Although France has already qualified for the round of 16, they still have to play for honor owing to the fact that they are the defending champion.
Also, Tunisia would have to hope that Denmark beat Australia by a slim margin. With Tunisia’s current form, it is unlikely that they can beat France with a wide goal margin to give them a chance of qualifying for the round of 16.
Sitting in the third position of Group G is Cameroon. This African soccer team lost their first game to Switzerland through an early goal in the second half by Breel Embolo. The most painful part of the story is that Embolo is a Cameroonian but plays for Switzerland. In fact, his father still lives in Cameroon. Therefore, it was not surprising that Embolo failed to celebrate the goal.
In their second game against Serbia, Cameroon came from 3 – 1 down to tie the goal at 3 – 3. Cameroon will play against Brazil in their last game. Brazil currently sits at the top of the group with 6 points and will hope to end the group with all possible 9 points.
Cameroon will have to come out with a spectacular performance to stand a chance of going forward in the tournament. Also, they will be counting on Serbia to come out strong against Switzerland. If Switzerland snatches a win over Serbia, not even a win against Brazil will be enough to send Cameroon to the round of 16.
Going into the final game against Canada, Morocco still has a good chance of making it to the round of 16. A draw from that game is enough to send the African soccer team to the next stage. Croatia currently tops Group F with 4 points, the same as Morocco but ahead on goal difference.
Morocco showed that they had what it takes to make it to the next stage after beating Belgium by 2 late goals. Belgium still has a chance to qualify but must beat Croatia to do so. Croatia will also hope to solidify their position on top of the group to possibly avoid Spain in the round of 16.
It is unlikely that Canada will throw in the towel against Morocco. They still have to play for honor and record their first win in Qatar. If Morocco avoids defeat in their last game, they will make it to the round of 16—and we believe this African soccer team has what it takes.
Ghana is also in a strong position to qualify for the next stage of the world cup. The African soccer team is currently second in Group H. After a narrow defeat against Portugal in their first game, Ghana bounced back to edge the South Koreans 3 – 2 in their second game.
With 3 points from two games, Ghana will have to win over Uruguay in the last round of Group matches to guarantee their spot. A draw against Uruguay may be enough for Ghana to progress to the round of 16. However, they will be counting on Portugal to defeat or draw against South Korea.
Having already qualified, it is unlikely that the Portuguese will treat the game against South Korea with levity. Ghana still has the opportunity to top the group if they win Uruguay by a wide goal margin. Portugal knows this and the last team they would want to play against in the round of 16 is Brazil.
So, while all the four remaining African soccer teams still have a chance of progressing to the round of 16, only Morocco and Ghana have a strong chance of doing so. Tunisia and Cameroon will need something exceptional to make it to the next round. Which other African soccer teams do you think will make it to the round of 16 at the Qatar 2022 World Cup? Share your thoughts with us in the comment box below.
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