The first round of World Cup games has come and gone, and African results have been very disappointing. This is only the second time since 1990 that all the African teams have failed to win their opening game at the World Cup (the same also happened in 2006). Despite the mixed results, the performances have been actually encouraging, with Senegal, Morocco and to a lesser extent Cameroon considering themselves unlucky.
Goals Have Been The Issue
If it was not for Ghana’s two goals, then this would have been the first time all CAF teams failed to score in their opening game. Oddly, all African teams have taken more shots than their opponents except for Ghana, who were outshot 11-9 by Portugal in their 3-2 thriller.
44 – shots taken by African teams before the Ghana game
0 – goals from the 44 shots before the Ghana game
53 – shots taken by African teams after the Ghana game
2 – goals by African teams after the Ghana game
2 – the lowest number of goals by African teams after the opening game in a World Cup with at least three African teams (2 goals also in 2010).
What’s Gone Wrong?
All teams have gone into the break level at 0-0. Morocco and Tunisia have been pragmatic and managed to hold on to their draws, despite a late scare for Tunisia against Denmark. Senegal, Cameroon & Ghana have tried chasing the game in the second half but have been undone at the back. This can be clearly seen in the Ghana game, whose threat comes mostly in the second half, but that is also the period in which they conceded three.
Something similar happened to Senegal in their game. An increased attacking threat in the second half was only met with opposition goals, with the counterattack for the second goal emblematic of this point.
It’s unfair to group all teams in the same box, but there are some interesting stats for some teams which may shed more light on what is happening.
15 – shots for Senegal in their opening game (the most of all African teams)
15 – shots by Senegal, the 6th most of all teams at the World Cup.
1 – Only Canada (21 shots) have taken more shots than Senegal (15) & Tunisia (13) without scoring
4 – high turnovers ending in a shot from Senegal, the most of all teams in the World Cup
Quality Of Shots More Important Than Quantity
Despite the decent numbers of shots from some teams, they haven’t really been quality. Not only have Senegal and Tunisia taken the most shots, but they’ve also been the better quality ones. None of the African teams have created more than 1 goal worth of xG in their opening games, something that will need to improve on Matchday 2.
3.7 – xG from all African teams
0.89 – highest xG for an African team (Senegal & Tunisia)
0.36 – xG from Morocco, the lowest of all African teams
Bringing The Flair
For those who love flair, the dribbling stats look good, however. England (24), France and Spain (both 21) attempted the most dribbles, with England (13) also the most successful. But when it comes to proportions, African teams have done well.
78% – dribble success for Ghana, the best of all World Cup teams
70% – dribble success for Tunisia, the second-best of all World Cup teams
3/6 – Three African teams are in the Top 6 for successful dribble % (including Senegal)