Whichever way you look at Qatar 2022, African teams have really impressed at this World Cup. Whatever happens to Morocco/Senegal/others in the knockout rounds should not overshadow the results and performances we saw in the 15 group stage games. The general stats already make for good reading.
7 – wins for African teams in Qatar, the most ever recorded in a single World Cup (four wins was the previous best in 2002 and 2010)
19 – African teams have scored 19 goals so far in Qatar, equalling the continent’s best-ever total at a single World Cup tournament.
100% – This is the first time that a World Cup tournament with more than one African team sees all the African representatives pick up at least one win (1982 was the first edition with more than one African team).
2 – African sides that made it past the group stage of a World Cup, the most ever for the continent (Algeria and Nigeria in 2014)
And even on a team level, a few records were set.
1 – Morocco became the first African team in the 21st century to top their group, and fourth in history (after 1990 Cameroon, 1994 Nigeria, 1994 Nigeria). They will face Spain in the Round of 16 on Tuesday, looking to build on their brilliant run. Surviving a group with Croatia & Belgium is one thing, but topping that group will be remembered for a long time.
7 – points won by Morocco in the group stages, a new African record at the World Cup
2 – games won by Morocco in Qatar group stages, as many as they managed in their previous five tournaments (2 wins in 16 since 1970)
Whereas the Atlas Lions beat Belgium with two late goals in their second group games, the job was done pretty early this time around. Two goals (one a gift) in the first half proved sufficient, and they did not create much else beyond that.
29 – touches in the opposition box by Morocco, the 5th lowest at the tournament.
They didn’t need to, given they have a solid defence. Only an unfortunate own goal prevented them from becoming the first African team to complete the group stages with no goal conceded:
1 – goals conceded by Morocco in the last six games (all matches)
3 – own goals conceded by Morocco in World Cup history
4 – shots on target conceded by Morocco, the 4th best record at the tournament so far.
Tunisia exited the tournament with just one goal and one win. The win will be memorable given that it came against the defending champions.
3 – number of times the reigning World Cup champions were beaten by African opposition at a WC, with Tunisia v France the first in 20 years.
However, the Eagles of Carthage will be most disappointed in their defeat to Australia, which effectively cost them a spot. That was the key game in this group and based on the threat created, it looked good for Tunisia. This was a match in which they had the most possession, and took the most shots, but were undone by the early goal, in a game they didn’t deserve to lose.
1 – goals scored by Tunisia in Qatar, their lowest since the 2002 World Cup
5 – goals scored by Tunisia in Russia 2018
3 – goals scored by Tunisia in Germany 2006
In the end, it was an all too familiar story:
6 – Number of time Tunisia have been to the World Cup
6 – number of times Tunisa have failed to progress beyond the first round, the most of all African teams.
The Netherlands were favoured to progress in this group (given a 60% chance to win it), with Senegal & Ecuador each with about 30%. The key game in this group was always going to be against Ecuador, and Aliou Cisse’s men made sure they won that one.
21 – games played by African teams against South American teams without a win since 1990
1 – Senegal’s win v Ecuador was the first over a South American team since Cameroon v Colombia
In the end, the Lions of Teranga made it out of the groups even without Sadio Mane. It seems the responsibility (both for leadership and goals) has been shared among the rest of the pack. Even Kalidou Koulibaly got in on the goals, and he was heavily involved in that final game.
5 – different players scored for Senegal at #Qatar2022 , the joint-most unique scorers for an African team in #FIFAWorldCup history.
Cameroon & Ghana
In the end, both teams came up short. Ghana will be the most disappointed because they only needed a draw in their final game. Cameroon needed a win but were also dependent on other results. They got the (memorable) win, but it wasn’t enough to send them to the next round.