No joy for ‘African Giants’ in Russia

By Allan Ssekamatte

Egypt 0 Russia 1

Hector Cuper’s Pharaohs need talisman Mohammed Salah for this one. Without the Liverpool forward, they are half a team. Although hosts Russia don’t have much to write home about, they should be roared home by a partisan crowd. A narrow home win.

Morocco 0 Portugal 1

Up to 17 of Morocco’s 23-man squad were born outside of the North African country. The Atlas Lions will be well drilled as so many of the starting eleven having enjoyed European club academy education, especially in France. Cristiano Ronaldo will break their hearts.

Argentian 2-1 Iceland
Pumas boss Jorge Sampaoli must have learned from watching Euro 2016 that Iceland take no prisoners. Lionel Messi will rise to the fore as this is his last chance to etch his name into folklore.

Nigeria 1 Croatia 2

Gernot Rohr’s Super Eagles are yet to set pulses racing. At the time of filing this piece, Africa’s powerhouses had lost four build up matches in a row. Croatia combine hard as nails defensive stoutness with sprightly wing play. I can’t see how Nigeria can fend off Luca Modric, Ivan Perisic and Andrei Kramaric.

Tunisia 0 England 2

The Carthage Eagles are without star man Yousef Msakni, as he has failed to recover in time for this crunch Group B World Cup encounter. England are in fine fettle, having won three straight build up matches going into Russia. A repeat of the 1998 scoreline when the Three Lions reigned beckons.

Senegal 1 Poland 1

Senegal are Africa’s best World Cup hopes. If Aliou Cisse’s Lions of Terranga can avoid defeat in their opening game against Poland, they should find some joy in subsequent matches against Japan and Colombia. A result depends on keeping Poland target man Robert Lewadowski quiet.

France 2 Australia 0

Didier Deschamps’ France have a better squad than they did when they won in 1998. Whether Les Bleus can match their predecessors depends on how well they apply themselves. Kylian Mbappe, who I am tipping to become the first teen top scorer since Pele in 1968, will damage the Socceroos.

Germany 2 Mexico 1

Marco Andre der Stegen must be wondering what he must do to make the number one shirt his own. Manuel Neuer remains a darling for his starring role in Brazil 2014. Mexico will run Germany close but ultimately fall short.

Spain 1 Portugal 0

The numerous local rivalries, including one pitting Cristiano Ronaldo against his Real Madrid team mates, mean this is a final before the final. Spain should edge it by a narrow margin, as they have the cleverer players.

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