The selection of the 2018 world Cup: Eagles among the lions

Saturday. Rades. Tunisia – Libya – 0:0. “Eagles of Carthage” celebrate qualification to the final tournament of the 2018 world Cup. Photo: Reuters

The national teams of Senegal, Tunisia and Morocco reached the final tournament of the world championship.


The 2002 world Cup “Lions Teranga” won the hearts of millions fans with a bright performance and repeated the highest achieving African teams having reached the quarter-finals of the world championship. Many find it hard to believe, but it was the only speech of the Senegalese on the main football tournament of the planet.

Fourteen years later, the team of the West African country of 15 million people won a place in the final tournament at the beginning Aliu Cisse – captain of the legendary team-2002. There is something symbolic that acknowledged the players who claimed that the experience of the mentor enables them to move forward, and Cisse wants to make one of the best teams of the continent.

Doubly important is this success because Africa local coaches are rare. However, in working with the Junior cissé believed, and in March 2015 he took the reins from the famous Frenchman Alain Giresse, with which the Federation did not renew the contract after absence from the group in the Africa Cup of Nations 2015.

The shootout – a curse of Senegal and personally 41-year-old Cisse. In the same super successful for “lions Teranga” 2002-m they are not only made his debut at the world Championships, but was only in its history, the medals of the African Cup of Nations. To the great for them, unfortunately – only silver. The final match with Cameroon ended in a goalless draw, and 11-meter better played opponent, although inflicts the final blow cissé could restore the balance, however, the approach of the captain to “the point” turned out to be unsuccessful.

In February of this year, Senegalese, brilliantly overcame the qualifying round and the beginning of the group stage of the continental championship with two victories, despite their status as favourites, once again become the victim of Cameroonians already in the quarterfinals of the African Cup of Nations. And again because of failures in penalty shootouts and a fatal misfire made the most outstanding player of the current team – who after the final whistle tears Sadio mane.

In the Senegalese team in almost every line bright enough and well-known performers. A leading Central defender Coulibaly – one of the key players Napoli. Captain Kouyate and his partner at the reference zone I. Gay in good standing in the English Premier League, let in this season, “West ham” and “Everton” and not Shine with results. As Monaco has not lost a brilliant last season in attack, “Lazio” Balde Keith. And still the star number one is mana. The player that Jurgen Klopp has recently described a small machine. Without him Liverpool that the team becomes the other teams. We all saw how suffered the “red” when African Energizer was on sick leave. It is not surprising that only the returning operation star English club is trying to protect as the Apple of the eye, so fans have been specifically delegated the physiotherapist Liverpool. Considering that Manet gave an assist to the author of a solving goal in gate of Africa Sako, we assume that his mission forward and its maintainer managed to “excellent”.

Senegal – defendant in one of the biggest scandals of the entire qualifying cycle for the 2018 world Cup. Although the “lions” in this story only the victim is Ghanaian referee Joseph Lenti. In the match against South Africa in November last year, the referee of Ghana has appointed Senegalese gate 11-metre, having recorded with Coulibaly hand game. When everyone saw that the ball was not in it, and in the knee.

Initiating the investigation, FIFA in March, delivered a hard verdict: Lenti, ensure the desired account 2:1 in favor of the South Africans, was found guilty of illegal influence on the result and disqualified for life. Later, this decision confirmed that CAS, after which the decision was made to replay the match. “We cannot be a party that benefits from someone corruption actions”, – reads the statement of the football Federation of Africa at such a resonant verdict.

Senegal is leading the group on Thursday had a right to be wrong. But, knowing that then in the final round will come very motivated South Africans, did not postpone it indefinitely.

In the Black continent in search of Europe for players with African roots with a subsequent invitation to the national teams – a common occurrence. To autumn “Lions Teranga” finally was persuaded to play for their historic homeland the of Mbaye Niang, the son of immigrants from Senegal, who was born in France and played for Junior and youth teams of France. The first sentence Niang received six years ago, when because of a conflict with the coach was not picked for the world championship for 17-year-old. Then there was the memorable story of the excommunication from the youth national team of France, when Mbaye and the company made a spree at a nightclub on the eve of the decisive play-off match of the European championship. And in October of this year, the shrew, the striker has finally realized that the years go by, Didier Deschamps does not need it, and the world Cup here it is.


Qualifying for the 2018 world Cup, the Tunisians began under the leadership of Henrik Kasperczak. The Polish specialist has already worked with the “Eagles of Carthage” in the late nineties, and then it all turned out well: the national team for the first time in 20 years, has qualified for the world Cup. However, in France, Tunisians were able to score only one point – played a draw with unmotivated and Romania took the last place in the group.

The second coming of Kasperczak turned out not so successful – it is not modified to finish the qualifying tournament. While in the selection for the 2018 world Cup he was good – after two wins over Mauritania Tunisians came out in the third round. The pole did not forgive the failure at the African Cup of Nations 2017 and the conflict with the leaders of the team. Wahbi Khazri replaced during the match with Burkina Faso in the quarterfinals of the continental tournament, did not shake hands with the coach, but the team eventually lost 0:2. Kasperczak, has deduced from structure of the midfielder of Sunderland, and other naughty star, Ferjani Sassi, but the Federation sided with the players and sent the pole into retirement. It was replaced by a local specialist Nabil Maaloul, who also has worked with the national team in 2013.

Rumors that the new coach of Tunisia will be Maaloul, appeared in early April, but the Federation three weeks delayed official confirmation of the appointment. They say the delay was due to the fact that the candidacy of mA’loula met with hostility by the three leaders of the team – his namesake Ali Maaloul, Aymen Abdennour and Anis Ben Hatira. The last two still never played for the team under their new coach.

Particularly striking is the absence of a footballer “Marcel”, which has always been the bulwark of defense the “eagles of Carthage”. In late summer, the absence of Abdel Nour explained the difficult situation in Valencia and looking for a new club. When powerful defender refused Zenit and moved to the French club in Tunisia began to talk about the fact that the player doesn’t look after the injury. The last match for the national team Abdennour held on March 24 – it was a friendly game against Cameroon.

Here are the services of a third “conspirator” Nabil Maaloul did not give up – the left defender even got in the symbolic team of the African zone qualifying tournament. Key for Tunisians matches in the qualifying group were two meetings with DR Congo in September. In fact, they decided the fate of the spots in the final tournament. In both games, “Eagles of Carthage” had to show strong-willed qualities. In Tunisia, the Congolese equalized before the break, but to get a comfortable draw, the hosts will not let them – Chalali scored the winning goal early in the second half.

Four days later, DR Congo were leading 2:0 until the 77th minute, but the team of mA’loula was given enchanting the ending – the first guests were forced Moka to cut the ball into his own net, and then Badri equalized.

A major victory over the Guineans and relaxed goalless draw with Libya finally brought Tunisia to the 2018 world Cup.


The breakthrough of the national team of Morocco, the world championship for the first time in history will play four Arab countries – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia are the “Atlas lions”. And for the first time since 2002 at the world championship will be one of the strongest African teams – ivory coast. It surpassed Moroccans in the qualifying group.

And not just bypassed. The team is two-time winner of the Africa Cup of Nations-Herve Renard never missed six matches of the final round of the qualifying tournament. Mighty côte d’ivoire, Gabon with a Forward and biting Malians – one of them with two attempts struck the goalkeeper of “Numancia” (second Spanish division) Munira.

However, in the previous round of the Arab team still missed. In it, the Moroccans met with Equatorial Guinea and won by two with the score 2:1.

In all fairness, Equatorial Guinea had to win in the confrontation, because in 2014 rescued and Morocco, and the entire continent. That fall, the Moroccan authorities announced that refuse to hold the African Cup of Nations 2015 because of the Ebola virus that struck down part of North Africa. Well, the Confederacy quickly found a replacement – Equatorial Guinea took CAEN in 2012 together with Gabon, so offered his help. While Morocco managed to avoid a disqualification.

The classical problem of the national team of Morocco’s most talented players have to be persuaded that they defended the colors of their historical homeland. A significant part of the national team players grew up abroad. For example, the main star and captain Mehdi Benatia – he hails from France, never played in Morocco, but chose him. Now Benatia love in the country: after a major victory over Gabon in October, he went outside to celebrate with the fans.

Another star of the national team of Morocco striker “Ajax” Hakim Saham (saying his name in Holland, but for Moroccans it is Ziyech), relates a curious story. He was born in the Netherlands and for a long time could not decide whom to represent in the international arena. The Moroccans were more persistent: a couple of years ago, Sieg made his debut for the African team. It overreacted, the former striker and Netherlands coach Marco van Basten: “a Stupid decision. A shame that Hakeem did not have the patience, and he chose Morocco.” But Sieh was right: in Russia it goes, not the Dutch.

For Morocco plays and the new extreme defender of the “real” Ashraf Hakimi. He was barely 19, but October 1, the young man appears regularly on the right flank of defence “Royal club”.

Hakimi also have dual citizenship – he was born in Madrid and could theoretically play for the national team of Spain. But decided not to repeat the mistakes of the graduate of Barcelona Munir El haddadi, who once played for the Spaniards.

Andrey KUZICHEV, Gosha CHERNOV, Sergey YAREMENKO, Sport-Express

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