11 June 2018

Africa: X-Raying 2018 FIFA World Cup Teams - Group H

Photo: The Guardian
All the Groups for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

This is the last group of the eight for the World Cup and it looks evenly balanced at the first glance even though Japan might be seen as the team with an outside chance from the quartet housed in Group H.

Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan

Poland

Poland booked their place to the World Cup in Russia after topping their group in the qualifying series.

They are returning to the world stage after a 12-year absence.

FIFA Ranking: 8

Best Position: Third place 1974, 1984

Average Age: 27.9

Caps: 800

Nickname: The white and reds

Coach: Adam Nawalka

Key Players: Robert Lewandowski, Grzegorz Krychowiak

Conclusion: This could be the last time the likes of Lewandowski will play on the big stage. They go into the World Cup with a largely unchanged side that was beaten by Portugal in the quarterfinal of Euro2016. Poland should be favourites going into this tournament but on paper, Colombia can usurp them if care is not taken.

Senegal

Senegal are back in the World Cup after their impressive debut of 2002. Qualifying was however contentious as they needed a replay to secure a spot in Russia. FIFA had ordered the replay after it emerged that the referee was involved in match fixing. Senegal took advantage and changed the dynamics of the group.

FIFA Ranking:27

Best Position: quarterfinal2002

Coach: AliouCisse

Key Players: Sadio Mane, Cheikhou Kouyate, Kalidou Koulibaly

Averageage: 26.2

Caps: 550

Nickname: Lions of Teranga

Conclusion: Senegal have the chance of picking maximum points before they face the strongest team in the group. They have what it takes to go far with the likes of Mane in front.

Colombia

Qualifying wasn't a breeze for the Los Cafeteria as they had to wait until the last match to win a ticket to the Mundial in Russia. They however have the weapons to make it beyond the group stage and equal their best showing at the World Cup.

FIFA Ranking:16

Best Position: Quarterfinals 2014

Average Age: 28.5

Caps: 700

Nickname: LosCafeteria

Coach: JosePekerman

Key Players: Wilmar Barrios, James Rodriguez, RadamelFalcao

Conclusion: Colombia reached the quarterfinal four years ago and they have the talent and confidence to do it again.

Japan

The Blue Samurai have made it to the World Cup six times but they have never made it past the last 16. Striking and picking points early may give them a chance to make it out of this group.

FIFA Ranking: 61

Average Age: 29.2

Caps: 1020

Best Position: Round of 16 in 2002,2010

Coach: Vahid Halilhodzic

Key Players: Shinji Okazaki, Shinji Kagawa, Maya Yoshida

Nickname: Blue Samurai

Conclusion: This may be the last World Cup for some of Japan's biggest stars, they will, therefore, be hungry to get out of the group stage. However, do they have what it takes to beat the likes of Colombia and Senegal?

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