The fair play rule had to cruelly intervene to ensure Africa endured its worst World Cup in more than three decades.
Senegal, Africa’s remaining hope after all other four representatives had been eliminated, was booted out through the most bizarre way last week Thursday.
The West Africans finished level on points and goal difference with Japan, but the Africans’ indiscipline on the pitch, cost them a second appearance in the last 16, as the ‘unfair’ fair play rule was applied.
Since Morocco became the first African side to progress to the second round in 1986, the continent has always had representation in the knock-out stages.
In 1990, it was Cameroon, who made history as they went all the way to the quarter finals before bravely bowing out to England. Cameroon led 2-1 with seven minutes left, but conceded late as the game went to extra time, where the West Africans were beaten 3-2.
Four years later, it was Nigeria’s turn to emerge from the group stages, but they came, like Cameroon, unstuck with when they were only minutes away from the next round, surrendering a 1-0 lead to Italy, before going out 2-1 after extra time.
In 1998, in France, Nigeria again made the knock-out stages but were soundly beaten 4-1 by Denmark, crushing the continent’s hopes.
In 2002 in South Korea and Japan, Senegal, making
They went all the way to the quarterfinals before they were dumped by unheralded Turkey.
In 2006, Ghana were the team to make it to the round of 16 but were swiftly dismissed by Brazil in a 3-0 loss.
Four years later, in South Africa, Ghana once again carried the hopes of the continent and were inches away from a semi-final spot, until Uruguayan, Luis Suarez popped up at the death to spoil the party, blocking a goal bound shot with his raised hands. Asamoah Gyan was given the responsible to send Ghana- and Africa- into the last four, but lashed his effort against the cross bar, from six yards.
In 2014, two African teams managed to go past the group stages, with Algeria and Nigeria the continent’s first ever pair into the last 16 in a single tournament. However, France ended Nigeria’s dream while Germany was responsible for extinguishing Algeria’s hopes.
With the marked improvement, a lot was expected in Russia, but all the five African representatives, are safely home, following the action from the comfort of their homes. Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Nigeria and Senegal were the continent’s representatives in Russia.