Can Africa arrest its Brazilian malaise?

 

While Africa is yet to break through its quarterfinal barrier on international football's grandest stage, the continent has certainly claimed several huge scalps in its 79-year World Cup history.

The likes of Germany, Spain, Portugal, France and England – with six world titles between them – all count themselves among the bigger victims of African upsets at the FIFA World Cup. One name – perhaps the biggest of them all – is conspicuously missing from that list, though: Brazil.

The winners of five World Cups and hosts of the next edition have proved notoriously tough customers for African national sides. The Canarinhos have, in the past, played Zaire, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon, Algeria and Morocco at the Mundial, winning all six games by a whopping aggregate score of 16-1.

It is not as though there exists any sound theory with which to explain the trend. At junior level, Brazil do find themselves losing to African teams – the likes of Ghana and Nigeria, especially – relatively often, yet almost as soon as these young players bloom into maturity and graduate to the senior Brazil side, it is as though they assume an aura of formidability rendered impenetrable by African opposition.

Is it perhaps simply because they are the most successful and finest football nation on earth?

Or could it be the case of a terrible inferiority complex and stage fright suffered by these vanquished African teams when faced with the very best talent international football has to offer?

Well, whatever the actual reasons are, they certainly would be re-inforced come June 2014 – with the Brazilians playing at home and their form and confidence on a definite high – and Luis Felipe Scolari's unit would be the one team that the quintet of African sides qualified for next year's tournament – Ghana, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Algeria and Cameroon – would be hoping to avoid during Friday's draw in Bahia.

Those hopes seem quite improbable, though; in fact, there is only a 3/8 chance that at least one date with A Seleção would be avoided, be it as it is that all the African representatives are classed in Pot Two.

Whichever way you look at it, Africa risks being stricken by another bout of yellow fever.Pills, anyone? – goal.com

December 2013
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