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Ignore Ivory Coast – meet Africa’s true World Cup contenders

| 21.06.2014

Cameroon starred in 1990, while Nigeria flew the flag for African football in 1994 and 1998, in 2002 it was the turn of Senegal while the last two World Cups have seen Ghana star.

One team noticeably absent from that list of African all-stars is Ivory Coast, a side that has underachieved on the international scene for much of the past decade, despite boasting the likes of Didier Drogba, Gervinho, Salomon Kalou and Yaya Toure in their ranks.

But while the Elephants remain well-positioned for progress, despite their loss to Colombia, Africa’s best hope of progress could be with Algeria, following their fine display against Belgium last time out.

The Fennec Foxes are far from the finished article but having been drawn in a weak group alongside Korea Republic and Russia, the North African team should fancy their chances of success.

Anyone who tuned in to the late night torture session that was Russia vs Korea Republic will be all too aware that two weak and uninspired sides await Algeria in the next two fixtures.

Korea Republic drafted legendary player Hong Myung-Bo in as manager after the team made hard work of qualification for the World Cup under Choi Kang—Lee, but results have hardly improved with the new manager overseeing just five wins from 17 games.

They were particularly wasteful against Russia and could struggle against a defensively solid Algeria outfit, and goals remain a problem, with Korea Republic failing to score in four of their last six internationals.

Russia will await Algeria in game three, with Fabio Capello’s capabilities as a national team manager in question again after the turgid 1-1 draw with an inferior Korea Republic side.

The 2018 hosts may have qualified ahead of Portugal but their preparations have been dogged by concerns over fitness, which appeared to ring true in the lacklustre way Russia ended their previous fixture.

And the Brazil heat could play into Algeria’s hands, with the North African nation thriving in the humid climate of their 5pm kick-off against Belgium.

While the weaknesses of their next two opponents are apparent, the Fennec Foxes are also in good form and boast a talented squad.

The loss to Belgium was just their second in 14 games, while in players like Tottenham’s Nabil Bentaleb, Valencia’s Sofiane Feghouli and Sporting Lisbon’s Islam Slimani, Algeria have a talented squad to rival that of the best African teams of previous World Cups.

Ivory Coast may yet progress, but they could be joined by a rather more surprising package.

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Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford is a content writer with over five years of experience in writing about sport and betting, including a two-year spell with Axonn Media. Contributes articles to HereIsTheCity and Lad Bible, while previous credits include Bwin, FTB Pro, Bleacher Report and the QBE rugby. Avid follower of tennis, rugby union, motorsport and football, Jack also writes about poker for Cardspiel.com alongside Guardian journalist Dominic Wells.