Morocco became the first African team to make the World Cup semi-finals following their win over Portugal. But other African teams, despite being eliminated, have also made and broken records in the tournament.
By Joel Omotto, bird story agency
For the first time in history, Africa will be represented in the last four of a World Cup, after Morocco beat Portugal 1-0 in the quarter-final at the Al Thumama stadium in Doha.
Before that stunning victory, the Atlas Lions and Senegal made it to the round of 16, making this Africa’s best performance at the World Cup since 2014.
All the African teams that competed at Qatar 2022 also won at least one match, for the first time in World Cup history.
And it was local African coaches that led the five teams. The African coaches that took their teams to Qatar are Walid Regragui (Morocco), Otto Addo (Ghana), Rigobert Song (Cameroon), Aliou Cisse (Senegal), and Jalel Kadri (Tunisia).
Here are more records that African teams and players have set in Qatar:
Morocco’s pioneering run to the last four has seen them set several records along the way.
The Atlas Lions became the first African country to finish top of their World Cup group, where they tackled Croatia and Belgium, both finalists and semi-finalists, respectively, in the 2018 edition.
Walid Regragui’s team faced Belgium, Croatia, Canada, Spain and Portugal in this epic run without conceding a single goal to any of them.
The Atlas Lions also became the fourth African team to make it to the World Cup quarter-finals, following in the footsteps of Cameroon (1990), Senegal (2002) and Ghana (2010).
Striker Youssef En-Nesyri became the first Moroccan player to score in two different World Cups. In Qatar, he scored a goal against Canada in the group stage and another against Portugal in the quarter-finals. However, his first World Cup goal was at the 2018 edition in Russia when he scored against Spain.
History was also made for midfielder Abdelhamid Sabiri when he became the first player to score from a direct free-kick at the 2022 World Cup after his strike opened the scoring against Belgium.
Even though the Indomitable Lions got knocked out in the group stage, they made an honourable exit by becoming the first African country to defeat Brazil at a World Cup. Vincent Aboubakar’s powerful header saw them clinch a memorable 1-0 victory against the Samba Boys.
But Cameroon also made some not-good records.
Aboubakar took off his shirt in celebration, oblivious to the fact that he had been booked already, leading to a red card. With that, the striker became the first player to score and be sent off in a World Cup match since Zinedine Zidane against Italy in the 2006 World Cup final.
Cameroon also became the first team in the history of the World Cup to concede two goals during first-half stoppage time in their match with Serbia. In an added 6-minute before the interval, Strahinja Pavlovic found the back of the net for Serbia, quickly followed by another goal by Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
The Black Stars also exited the tournament at the group stage but left a lasting impression following their tenacity and fearless attitude.
Midfielder Mohammed Kudus became the first Ghanaian to score two goals in a World Cup match. The 22-year-old also became the second youngest African player to net twice in the competition, after 21-year-old Nigerian Ahmed Musa at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Mohammed Salisu also became the first and only defender to score for the Black Stars at the World Cup in their 3-2 win over South Korea.
Although Tunisia did not go beyond the opening round, they went out with a victory against the defending World Cup champions France, winning 1-0 .
This was France’s only loss in the opening round.
For the first time in 20 years, Senegal qualified for the knockout round of the World Cup, with a 2-1 victory over Ecuador.
The last time Senegal made it out of the Group Stages was in the 2002 edition. Skipper Kalidou Koulibaly ended the two-decade wait by netting the winner.
In 1977, the great Brazilian player, Pelé, predicted that an African team would win the World Cup before 2000. In 2021, Patrice Motsepe, president of the Confederation of African Football, said, “An African team must win the World Cup in the near future.”
Will Morocco, in 2022, finally fulfil these predictions?
bird story agency