Africa’s World Cup-bound sides set for decisive Friendlies
The five African countries to the 2022 World Cup will be taking advantage of the international break to play their matches before they name their final squads for the global tournament in November.
They have lined up the warm-up matches in Europe as team coaches seek to finalise their teams for the competition to be held in the Asian country.
Most of the players ply their trade in Europe – and as such most will be playing their friendlies in European cities to ease travel concerns.
Several players have been recalled by some of the national teams to boost their squad while others have courted dual nationals to augment their squads.
Ghana has profited the most from players switching nationality.
The German-born duo of Stephan Ambrosius and Ransford-Yeboah Konigsdorffer as well as former Spanish star Inaki Williams and ex-England youth international Tariq Lamptey are all available.
They should be ready to play for the Black Stars when they take on Brazil in France before travelling to Spain to take on Nicaragua on Tuesday.
Also playing against the five-time world champions Brazil are Tunisia whose second opponents during the international friendly break are Comoros.
The Carthage Eagles captain Wabhi Khazri says the match against the South Americans in France will give them the stern test needed for the World Cup.
“When I heard the news, it was incredible,” Khazri added.
“When we talk about football, we inevitably talk about Brazil because it’s the country of football and the chance to face world-class players.
“It will be a great party and also a great challenge to measure ourselves against the best in the world of football. It’s important to play against big teams before the World Cup, because at the World Cup you meet the best.
“It also allows us to see what we are missing. We can draw conclusions at the end of the match, see what we are capable of doing well and what we can do better.”
Cameroon have recalled their experienced players Nicolas Nkoulou and George Mandjeck for warm-up in Asia against home side South Korea and Uzbekistan.
Nkoulou returns for the Indomitable Lions after a five-year absence while Mandjeck has been recalled by coach Rigobert Song following his last appearance for the side three years ago.
The former captain of Cameroon says he has recalled the players to inject some experience in the squad dominated by youngsters.
“We need experienced players like Nicolas and George, who will help our new generation of players grow. They are passionate and patriotic,” said the former defender Song.
Injuries have resulted in Senegal handing debut call-ups to several players including Noah Fadiga, son of the country’s 2002 World Cup midfielder Khalilou, for the matches against Iran and Slovakia.
The Teranga Lions are one of Africa’s highly fancied sides at the tournament in Qatar and injury to Bayern Munich defender Bouna Sarr forced a rethink, resulting in Noah Fadiga’s call-up.
Morocco will also play friendlies as the Atlas Lions have lined up matches with Chile and Paraguay in Spain as some players have also been recalled to boost the squad.
The five African countries are hoping that the friendlies will give them the chance to prepare their final squad to help them excel at the competition in Qatar.