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Monday, 10 December, 2001, 13:50 GMT
World Cup draw: Which African team has the best chance?
How have the African nations fared in the World Cup finals draw?
Africa's five teams now know who they will face at the World Cup finals in Korea and Japan.

Senegal will play defending champions France in a spicy curtain-raiser in Seoul, and also have Uruguay and Denmark in their group.

Nigeria face the toughest task of all the African sides, drawn against favourites Argentina, England and Sweden.

South Africa have been pitched against Spain, Slovenia and Paraguay, while Cameroon will play Germany, the Republic of Ireland and Saudi Arabia.

Tunisia, meanwhile, have been drawn with co-hosts Japan, as well as Russia and Belgium.

Who has emerged from the draw lightly? And which of Africa's five have the best chance of qualifying for the next phase?

This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

Your reaction:

My money is still on Nigeria

Dawit G, Ethiopia/USA
My money is still on Nigeria. They have what seems like a hard group but it could also be an easy one because as we all know England and Sweden are not the most reliable, consistent winners. I think Argentina and Nigeria will make it through and after that Nigeria's class will show again. If they don't get too...excited.
Dawit G, Ethiopia/USA

I think Cameroon will be better placed to go through to the second round. They have a youthful side and most times they are really dedicated when it comes to national pride. They do not relay on big names as does Nigeria.
Mohamed Dumbuya, Sierra Leone

Nigeria has always been my team though they have let me down many times. Notwithstanding this, I am still hopeful that they will win the trophy.
Paul L. Mendy, Gambia

Bring on the World Cup!

Ike Naijaman, Nigeria
On paper, our neighbours Cameroon look to have the best chance at the Second Round. I rate Senegal's chances next. But never rule out the Eagles. Nigeria is not in a vacuum in Group F. There are three other teams. These teams are going to drain points from each other. Expect to see a lot of draws between the other three with teams sharing one point each. A win and a draw (particularly a scoring draw) could be sufficient for qualification for any of the four teams. If you are objective, you know that a win and a draw are within the Eagles' abilities in Group F. They might even do more. Or they might do less. Some people are afraid. Me, I am excited. Bring on the World Cup!
Ike Naijaman, Nigeria

It is good Nigeria has found themselves in the Group of Death. That will bring out the best in the team since there will be no over-confidence. The usual wrangles aside, Nigeria will qualify with Argentina for the second round. Forget England. Their defence cannot stop the marauding strikers from Nigeria. Cameroon has a chance to qualify should they approach the matches with their usual seriousness. For Senegal, it is baptism with fire. It is good for them to have arrived at the World Cup. Forget Tunisia and South Africa. Their presence in the World Cup tournaments will be to make up the numbers - pure statistics.
Jakaluo, Kenya

Never underestimate Senegal. They defended the big teams to qualify for the World Cup so look out for them. Nigeria is always over confident - I wish them the best. Cameroon is a season team and they know how to win. I think they will make it to the next round.
Alfred Beaty, USA

Let's all rally behind our African soccer ambassadors

Ernest Cole, The Gambia/Sierra Leone
I believe that each and every country that is represented at the World Cup stands a chance of winning the trophy. To me it is not a question of which African team is drawn against which "giant" of Europe. Gone are the days when success in football depends on past glory. It is now a question of input and that is a function of hard work and discipline, not the amount of times a country has made it to the World Cup or the continent it represents. If the latter had been the case, then Croatia would never have gone beyond the preliminaries in France 98. Let's all rally behind our African soccer ambassadors and stop these negative and meaningless predictions.
Ernest Cole, The Gambia/Sierra Leone

Cameroon seem to have emerged out of the draw lightly. The only threat in that group is Germany. However, with their current form, they could come out second behind Germany. Also, we can't write off Nigeria despite being in the group of death. In fact, if you want Nigeria to perform well in any tournament, give it the toughest teams to see them sail through.

This time round, don't be astonished to see Cameroon and Nigeria making to the second round. Senegal will make an early exit and I don't see them scoring any goal, let alone win a game. Tunisia play a defensive game. They go there not to be defeated and will follow Senegal in early exit. For South Africa, they will display a good game but can't go through at the expense of Spain and Paraguay. In essence, Cameroon and Nigeria go to the second round.
Joel Maina, Kenya

The draws are not kind to Africa. Debutants Senegal will pack their bags in the first round and so will Nigeria. They stand no chance against favourites, Argentina, and Sven-Goran Eriksson's England.

South Africa might have a chance if they can pick up some points against Slovenia and Paraguay but against Spain it will be almost impossible. Cameroon is the only Africn team with realistic chances chances of making it to the second round. Tunisia will not have it easy against the hosts and the pace of Russia might just be too much for them to cope with.

All in all, this is not Africa's World Cup because the challenge of Cameroon will not be enough unless they do the unthinkable and win the Cup. The rest I'm afraid are just going to play for World Cup pride.
Erick Obed Mwanza, Zambia

Senegal will surprise a lot of people. They have proved themselves as a team to be reckoned with.

Akin Fashola, UK

I believe Cameroon will proceed further but don't write off Senegal cause most of their players play in the same league. I still believe Nigeria will surprise many including themselves but you can't put your money on them. For Tunisia and South Africa; it's just another World Cup appearance!
Elijah Wambua, Kenya

I honestly believe that three African countries - Nigeria, Cameroon and Senegal - will progress to the second round of the competition. Nigeria against all odds, as they did in both USA 94 and France 98, will definitely top Group F despite the fact it is the toughest. Argentina will probably be the team that will go through with Nigeria.

Cameroon will definitely qualify from their own group as well. Remember they are both the current African and Olympic champions. Senegal will surprise a lot of people. They have proved themselves as a team to be reckoned with in the friendly matches they have played so far - having beaten both Korea and Japan. I expect them to go through with France.

I am yet to be convinced that South Africa and Tunisia will do well. They have both always under-achieved in the World Cup. I expect both of them to go out in the first round.
Akin Fashola, UK

Consider one of two points: The World Cup has always been played either in Europe or the Americas. Only European or American countries have ever won the world cup - home advantage? Asia is the neutral venue. A new leader will emerge come 2002. Bookmark this e-mail!
G. Moyo, Zimbabwe

This will be the year of Africa. The talent is there and the hope is there. If Cameroon is disciplined enough they will go far. All Nigeria needs is to stop their arrogance and the Cup is theirs.
Ishani, Canada

Senegal can beat France. It is experience (and old age) pitted against speed, skill and youth

Kingwe, Kenya

Nigeria will most likely not qualify although they have the skill, talents and power to go through. Nigeria has only beaten one world class team in their world cup history (Spain). The other two teams they beat were mediocre teams (Bulgaria and Greece). With that in mind one really doubts their chances of going through.
Emmanuel Maduka, Nigeria

It is ironic that the team ranked lowest by FIFA among WC qualifiers (Senegal) should open the tournament with the best and the current holders, France. I see I am the only one in these columns who truly believes Senegal can beat France. It is experience (and old age) pitted against speed, skill and youth. I believe modern football favours the latter three qualities. Just you wait.
Kingwe, Kenya

I think Tunisia has a real shot at winning group H. With all due respect, Belgium and Russia are perrenial underachievers and Japan, while solid, are hardly a world beaters.
Nabil, Tunisia

Hallelujah! My prayer as been answered. Nigeria v England on June 12? Fantastic! Let the other countries write us off at their peril, everyone knows that we always perform excellently against the so-called big teams.

Nigeria has always not only proven themself in these groups of death, but also led the group

Sam Arubuola, Nigeria

Barring over-confidence and in-fighting between the football authorities and players over money, Nigeria will be a force.
Gbemi Orekoya, UK

Who brought down the the solid Bulgarian squad of 94? Who defeated the invincible Spain in 98? From USA 94 to France 98, Nigeria has always not only proven themself in these groups of death, but also led the group.

The ease with which Greece were able to tear apart the English defence in their last game and the fact that the best games Nigeria play in the finals have always been their first (Bulgaria 94 and Spain 98) makes the Argentina opener much more interesting.
Sam Arubuola, Nigeria

Well, if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. The Big Five have all been drawn into groups with the rest of the world's best football-playing nations.

I think they will all have something to prove in staking their claims as being part of the world's elite. It is easy to say Nigeria has the toughest group but there are no easy games in the World Cup. I believe Cameroon, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia will also have to really compete in their respective groups.

Senegal will enjoy their World Cup debut alright, but results will be difficult to come by against France, Denmark and Uruguay

Mikel, Ghana

African football has come a long way and I'm sure it can only grow from strength to strength. Come the World Cup, the Big Five will surely prove that.
Esbe, Cardiff, UK

I think Cameroon, South Africa and Tunisia are Africa's ticket to the second round. With two draws against Ireland and Germany and a victory against Saudi Arabia, Cameroon can make it to the next round.

South Africa and Tunisia can make it with a similar strategy - two draws and a win. As for Nigeria and Senegal, it is a tough draw. However, Nigeria seems to perform best in difficult situations.
Willie Ade, Cameroon

Senegal will enjoy their World Cup debut alright, but results will be difficult to come by against France, Denmark and Uruguay. There are better teams and more capable than the Lions.

Nigeria have no prayer of doing well either. Argentina have one of the tickets in that group sealed and the Nigerians will need all their will power and skills to get ahead of a rejuvenated England and a dull but very competent Sweden.

Nigeria are at their best in difficult circumstances

Punit, India

On the surface, South Africa look capable of a second round berth. Tunisia should be able to make it, so too should Cameroon, but all that will depend on how well they can avoid the divisiveness that has dogged their previous campaigns.
Mikel, Ghana

I think Nigeria are at their best in difficult circumstances. If they were in a group of, say, Ireland South Korea and Spain they would be eliminated in the first round itself. So I am glad Nigeria got the group of death! They'll probably finish behind Argentina.
Punit, India

Cameroon and Tunisia have the easiest groups of the five and I expect cameroon to qualify for the next stage. Tunisia tend to underperform and may not qualify. Senegal has good enough players but lack the experience. They just might suprise everyone though.

I don't think South Africa will progress to the next stage. Nigeria is undoubtedly in the toughest group with three very good teams. However, I feel confident that they would make it through.

Argentina should be the other team from that group. However, if Nigeria qualifies for the next stage after the first two games, as they did in France '98, it is likely they will lose the last game to England because of overconfidence and not taking the game seriously enough. Then Argentina may be in a spot of bother.
Ebele, USA

South Africa will get whipped by Paraguay and Slovenia

Ngunyi Wambugu, South Africa

South Africa have been unable to select a formidable team since the halcyon days of coach Clive Barker. I fear we are going to Korea to make up the numbers. I'm pinning my hopes on Cameroon and Senegal, perhaps Tunisa going to the second round. Forget Nigeria!
Mvu Ngcoya, South Africa

Well, the Nigerians have been talking the talk, now is the time for them to walk the walk. Argentina are on heat at the moment and England, with Owen's form, can manage a few suprises.

Cameroon, on the other hand, will beat everyone in that group. South Africa on the other hand will get whipped by Paraguay and Slovenia.
Ngunyi Wambugu, South Africa

I think Senegal have the best chance to progress.
Kingsley Lemeh, Nigeria

Tunisia has the best chance from the African teams to reach the second round. Nigeria has the least chance of qualifying.
Ahmed Huseein, USA

The key to any of the African teams progressing will depend on their preparation and organisation

Ayodele Odumade, United Kingdom

Nigeria are unfortunate to be in the group of death. However, they have all the ingredients it takes to go through. It's only their lack of commitment and over confidence that have worked against them in recent years.

Thank God this time round, there is no OVER CONFIDENCE. Surprises will happen, especially as they are taken as the under dogs. Cameroon have always approached every competition with the concentration and commitment it deserves.

My money is on them to go through. Senegal are there to gain experience. South Africa has not lived up to expectations at the world level despite the group in which they are drawn. Not much this time round also.
Mohamed Lamin Sesay, Sierra Leonean in Turkey

The key to any of the African teams progressing will depend on their preparation and organisation, which is not one of the strong points of teams like Nigeria. However if Nigeria get their act together they could qualify, though they are in the toughest group.

They have history on their side because they won both their opening games in the last two tournaments. As for Cameroon I think they will qualify but for Senegal the key to qualifying will be to get something from their opening game against the world champions France.
Ayodele Odumade, United Kingdom

South Africa have consistently failed to prove themselves at the highest level

CJ, Nigeria

Nigeria has a mountain to climb. Argentina, England and Sweden are serious obstacles to overcome. On the positive side, one of the perennial problems facing Nigeria - over-confidence - is unlikely to to be an issue, unless Nigeria get through to the second round.

I expect Tunisia and Cameroon to definitely qualify, from an African perspective they have the easiest draws. South Africa have consistently failed to prove themselves at the highest level. CJ, Nigeria

I think Nigeria will suprise the world and qualify for the second round with England, the pressure will be on Argentina, being the favourites to win.
Ike, US

With the pick in group F, what then is the use of seeding? Maybe Fifa should just forget about seeding teams and let the chips fall where they are.
Evelyn Lewis, US (S.Leone)

Senegal have a difficult opening game against France. If they can try and pick up four points from the remaining two games, they might just squeeze through. Basically, avoiding wide-margin defeats should be good enough for Senegal.

Nigeria always bring out their best when the odds are against them

The Yemster, Nigerian in Boston

Of the lot, Cameroon and SA have the best chance of going through. However the 'easy' draw notwithstanding, SA don't seem to have the pedigree to go through.

Even though Tunisia has a relatively easy draw, as we have seen on previous occasions, they are always unlikely to perform at that level. Nigeria, has the most difficult of the draws with Argentina, England and Sweden.

Any of the four teams can go through. However I have come to realise that Nigeria always bring out their best when the odds are against them.
The Yemster, Nigerian in Boston

Nigeria by far has the toughest group. They will have to be at their best to qualify from that group. Cameroon, Tunisia have groups they can qualify from if they play well.

South-Africa too have a chance. I think Nigeria have to really up their game to do well at this World Cup, but I know Nigeria is up to the task. Good luck to all the African reps.
Olayinka, Canada

See also:

01 Dec 01 | World Cup 2002
Africa's World Cup task
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