The unpredicted 1-0 victory by Tunisia over France on Wednesday marked the fifth victory for an African team at 2022 FIFA World Cup, breaking the previous mark of four.
The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 teams from Africa took five days to get rolling, but after Senegal beat Qatar 3-1 to open the second round of group matches on November 25 they have gotten stronger and stronger.
This has been a much-needed boost for CAF’s representatives, who have had more than their fair share of bad luck at the competition over the years and failed to qualify even one side for Russia 2018.
Due to their poor start, where they lost three and drew two of their first five games, few observers would have wagered that African teams would ultimately rise to the occasion in Qatar.
Senegal’s much-anticipated victory was announced by center-back Pape Abou Cisse to FIFA+, who expressed his hope that the outcome could inspire countries on his continent to greater heights. He remarked, “I hope that the other African teams can also win their games.
Up before this World Cup, Africa has only ever managed a maximum of four victories in a single World Cup. Two times before, this had occurred, and each time, one team in particular stood out from the others.
Senegal established the standard in 2002 by shocking the tournament favourites, France, and then defeating Sweden in the round of 16. In South Africa eight years later, Ghana led the way with victories over Serbia in the group stage and the United States in the round of 16.
While the defending continental champions Senegal have produced two of the five African triumphs and lived up to expectations, they are not the only team generating headlines in Qatar. As well as Morocco and Ghana, who both achieved victories, Tunisia stunned France.
Four separate African teams winning a match in the same World Cup has never happened before. At four prior competitions, in 2002 (Senegal, Cameroon, and South Africa), 2010 (South Africa, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire), 2014 (Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Algeria), and 2018, they had achieved three victories.
The Eagles of Carthage beat the defending world champions on Wednesday night, but naturally their disappointment at not making it past the round of 16 outweighed their joy. However, it is likely that with time, the Tunisian players will recognise the historical significance of their lone victory in Qatar.
After the game, defender Ali Abdi told FIFA+, “That’s football; we need to keep working, and if we do that, we’ll experience more success in the future.”
The only African team already out of the tournament is Tunisia, and Senegal will now face England in the round of 16. Meanwhile, the matches between Morocco, Ghana, and Cameroon against Canada, Uruguay, and Brazil, respectively, could help African football fans remember Qatar 2022 even more fondly.
Whatever transpires in the remaining 18 days, this tournament will have impressively established a new standard for the continent.