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African All Stars

World Cup squads: Africa’s unanswered questions

16:40 EAT 15/11/2022
Baba, Eto'o, Ati-Zigi
GOAL’s Ed Dove analyses the biggest talking points after Africa’s teams announced their final World Cup squads
  • Sadio Mane injured Bayern Munich 2022-23

    Senegal: Who replaces Sadio Mane?

    The biggest African talking point ahead of the World Cup if of course Sadio Mane’s injury, with the Senegal superstar damaging his fibula in a Bundesliga outing for Bayern Munich.

    The initial prognosis is that Mane will be sidelined for three to four weeks, which still means that he could make an impact in the knockout stages if Senegal advance through the tournament.

    However, the Ballon d’Or runner-up with clearly the Teranga Lions’ best bet of progression from Group A, and without him, Aliou Cisse needs to find a replacement for his creative guile and inspiration.

    Starters like Ismaila Sarr and Boulaye Dia need to step up, while players such as Krepin Diatta may now step into key roles…at least until Mane’s back in action.

  • GK_Lawrence Ati-Zigi

    Ghana: Who plays in goal?

    The Black Stars’ World Cup plans were shattered at the weekend as both Jojo Wollacott and Richard Ofori were ruled out with injury.

    It leaves Otto Addo with the unenviable task of having to choose between Lawrence Ati-Zigi and Abdul Nurudeen for the starting spot; neither inspire confidence.

    The former has 10 caps under his belt but has struggled to impress, while the latter—on the books of Belgian side KAS Eupen—has only played twice for the national side.

    Ghana are certainly looking vulnerable at the back.

  • Ghaylane Chaalali Aimen Balbouli Tunisia 2017

    Tunisia: Why four keepers?

    Generally a settled selection, Tunisia nonetheless threw us a curved ball by naming four goalkeepers in their final squad.

    The decision to axe promising youngster Mohamed Sedki Debchi came from left field, but even more baffling was opting to recall 38-year-old Aymen Mathlouthi, who hasn’t played for the national side since March 2019.

    It’s hard to see Jalel Kadri’s logic behind the decision, particularly considering there was no place in his squad for Saifeddine Khaoui of Clermont, a player who could realistically have made a difference in the final third.

  • Amine Harit Monaco Marseille

    Morocco: Who replaces injured Harit?

    Marseille’s Amine Harit suggested—before OM’s weekend showdown with AS Monaco—that it would be ‘destiny’ if a player were to be injured at the last and miss out on the World Cup.

    Harit himself promptly picked up a series knee injury and will sit out the trip to Qatar.

    Morocco already have an unfit Zakaria Aboukhlal on their books, but Harit’s injury represents an opportunity for them to introduce—or re-introduce—another attacking talent into their squad.

    Brahim Diaz has reportedly been approached, although he prefers to wait his turn with Spain, so could the likes of Munir El-Haddadi or Ayoub El Kaabi be brought back into the squad, having been overlooked for the initial selection?

  • Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui of Cameroon.

    Cameroon: What did Ngadeu do wrong?

    The biggest shock of all of the African squad announcements was Cameroon’s decision to overlook centre-back Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui.

    One of the squad’s more experienced heads, he’s in his prime at 31, and has been a regular starter for the national side in recent years, not least at the Nations Cup earlier this year.

    However, amidst rumours of a fall-out with Samuel Eto’o and/or Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Ngadeu has been cut from the squad at the last.

    It’s a bitter blow for him, and also leaves the Indomitable Lions worryingly short at the back, where veteran Nicolas Nkoulou may now be called to play alongside Jean-Charles Castelletto.

  • Samed Abdul Salis of Lens and Ghana.

    Ghana: Who comes into midfield?

    As well as losing both of their main goalkeepers, Ghana will also have to prosecute the World Cup without first-choice defensive midfielder Iddrisu Baba.

    The Real Mallorca man insists that the muscle injury sustained in the midweek La Liga victory over Atletico Madrid will only sideline him for seven days—not affecting his participation—but Otto Addo hasn’t risked him.

    How will the Black Stars compensate for his loss?

    One option could be to play Thomas Partey at the base of the midfield, while Addo could also opt to use Elisha Owusu or new call-up Salis Abdul Samed as direct replacements for Baba.