Africa reach the World Cup semi-finals: In numbers

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Ighalo, Hakimi, Gyan
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GOAL’s Ed Dove charts the history of Africa’s quest to reach the World Cup semis, in numbers…
  1. 92
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    The number of years that African teams have been competing at the World Cup, and failing to reach the semi-finals.

    From Egypt’s maiden attempt in 1934, when they were defeated by Hungary in the opener, the continent’s sides have endured almost a century of heartache as they’ve sought to reach the last four of the grandest show on earth.

  2. 13
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    The number of different African countries who have previously attempted—and failed—to reach the final four.

    The likes of Zaire, Togo and Angola only had one shot at glory—with each missing out on the knockouts—while sides like Cameroon and Nigeria have had multiple attempts to reach the semi-finals, without ever making it to the final four.

  3. 49


    In total, African sides have competed at the World Cup on 49 separate occasions, stretching back to 1934.

    After that appearance, the continent’s sides had to wait 36 years before Morocco fell in the first round in 1970.

    In total, 38 teams have fallen at the first hurdle, despite some memorable victories and thrilling triumphs along the way.

  4. Seven


    Including Morocco in 1986, who were the first African team to reach the knockout stages, the continent’s sides have fallen in the Second Round on seven occasions.

    Nigeria, who have never reached the quarter-finals, are the most regular fallers at this stage, having lost out in the Last 16 in 1994, 1998 and 2014.

    Ghana marked their first appearance at the tournament with a Last 16 exit to Brazil in 2006, while Senegal were defeated by England in the Second Round this time around.

  5. Three


    Three African teams have previously been eliminated the World Cup quarter-finals, which had represented the high watermark for continental sides at the tournament.

    Cameroon, in 1990, were the first, before Senegal then emulated the Indomitable Lions by reaching the Last Eight in 2002…defeating reigning champions France along the way.

    Finally, in 2010, Ghana made it to the quarters before, of course, having their hearts broken by Uruguay.

  6. One
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    Morocco have become Africa’s World Cup pioneers by becoming the first side from the continent to have reached the Final Four.

    Their run has been magnificent, with the Atlas Lions defeating European heavyweights Belgium, Spain and Portugal en route to the semis.

    Now they have their sights on France, as they aim to break yet new ground for African teams.

  7. Zero


    The number of opposition players who have scored against Morocco so far this World Cup.

    Only France in 1998 and Italy in 2006 reached the semi-finals without an opponent scoring against them…both of those two sides went on to win the title.

  8. 14
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    Of all the teams to have begun the World Cup, none had as many players in their ranks born outside the country as Morocco.

    Only 12 of the current squad were born in the North African country, with 14—almost 54 percent—of the squad born outside Morocco.

    Tapping into this diaspora has given Morocco added depth, while they’ve also benefited from the qualities of players forged in some of Europe’s top academies.

    Could this be a template for other African sides to follow?