DOHA, Nov 24 (Reuters) – Two goals by Ghana on Thursday broke Africa’s goal drought at the World Cup, but none of the continent’s five teams managed to record a win in Qatar, in stark contrast to their Asian counterparts.
While both Japan and Saudi Arabia pulled off sensational upsets against the former world champions, Africa have had poor results, only scoring as many points as goals.
Cameroon, Ghana and Senegal lost their opening games, while Morocco and Tunisia drew goalless against higher profile opponents and received enthusiastic support from thousands of their fans who flocked to the stadiums.
Both countries have large migrant communities in the Gulf state and made for a boisterous atmosphere as Morocco and Tunisia embraced the opportunity.
Both played at a much higher pace than usual, buoyed by the encouragement, but it remains to be seen whether they can deliver a similarly intense performance in the second group game after just three days out.
Tunisia drew 0-0 with Denmark in Group D on Tuesday, while Morocco took on Croatia, runners-up at the last World Cup, in Group F on Wednesday.
Narrow defeats followed for Cameroon and Ghana on Thursday.
Cameroon-born Breel Embolo scored in Switzerland’s 1-0 Group G win over his native country. The goal came after the African side dominated the first half and missed several good chances to take the lead.
Ghana were beaten 3-2 by Portugal in Group H but complained bitterly about the referees. But coach Otto Addo also said: “(Africa’s) results need to get better and I hope we all improve.”
All five African teams at the last World Cup in Russia failed to advance beyond the first round and the continent’s top footballers have said their future priority is to make the teams more competitive at international level.
The continent will look to Senegal to stop the rot on Friday after they put in a competent display in Monday’s Group A clash against the Netherlands, only to concede two late goals that included World Goalkeeper of the Year Edouard Mendy is partly to blame.
“We’re still determined because we know we can still achieve something at this World Cup and we still believe in our chances,” said Senegalese captain Kalildou Koulibaly as they prepared to face hosts Qatar on Friday .
Qatar are the Asian champions but their opponents Japan and Saudi Arabia have eclipsed them by beating Germany and Argentina in the big shocks of the tournament.
Edited by Ed Osmond
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