Fifa president Gianni Infantino has expressed his dismay that Africa failed to secure a place in the 2018 World Cup knock-out stages. Africa was the only continent represented at the finals that failed to make the Round of 16. All five African teams – Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia – exited this year’s competition in the group stages.
It is the first time it has failed to reach the second round since 1982, when Cameroon went unbeaten and Algeria were denied progress when group rivals West German and Austria contrived a result that eliminated them.
That game became known as the ‘Disgrace of Gijon’ and a similar scenario – played out by Japan and Poland in Volgograd last Thursday – resulted in Senegal’s elimination in Russia.
“Of course,” Infantino replied when asked if he was saddened by Africa’s early exit. “The World Cup is for the whole world and the African teams were very, very close at the end. An Asian (team) made it – an African not – but I think they will be ready soon for the next one,” he told BBC Sport.
Nigeria and Senegal both had hopes going into their final games but the Super Eagles missed out after conceding a late goal to Argentina while the Teranga Lions failed after losing narrowly to Colombia.