The best performing African teams in FIFA World Cup history

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Morocco players celebrate. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Morocco players celebrate. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The African continent is home to some of the most passionate football lovers.

However, despite the continent's love for the beautiful game, it has yet to produce a team to advance past the quarter-final stage in the FIFA World Cup.

Before a ball was kicked for the 2022 World Cup, it seemed unlikely that African teams would fare well but Cameroon, Tunisia, Ghana, Senegal and Morocco have all performed admirably in Qatar.

Upon reaching the knockout stages, Senegal suffered a 3-0 defeat to England, ending their journey.

Meanwhile, Morocco progressed after stunning Luis Enrique and Spain in a penalty shootout to advance to the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.

In the past two tournaments, African teams have performed poorly as only Nigeria and Algeria made it to the last 16 at the 2014 World Cup while in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, no African side made it beyond the group stage.

In the history of the World Cup, only four African teams have reached the quarter-finals, Cameron (1990), Senegal (2002), Ghana (2010) and now recently Morocco (2022).

Let's take a closer look at the best-performing African teams in the history of the World Cup:

Cameroon (1990)

Jean-Claude Pagal of Cameroon challenges England winger Chris Waddle. (Photo Cannon/Allsport/Getty Images)

Cameroon were the surprise packages in the 1990 World Cup in Italy as the Indomitable Lions topped their group after beating defending champions Argentina in their opening game. 

Their good run continued as they beat Colombia in the last 16.

However, they suffered a 3-2 defeat in the last eight against England, ending their World Cup journey.

Cameroon have yet to progress out of the group stage since the quarter-finals back in 1990.

Senegal (2002)

Senegal players. (Photo by Tim De Waele/Getty Images)

This was the first time that Senegal would participate in a World Cup and they certainly made an impact.

They had a tough group consisting of France, Denmark, and Uruguay. However, they beat France and made it out of Group A in second place, following draws with Denmark and Uruguay. 

After advancing to the last 16, they beat Sweden 2-1 before bowing out to Turkey in the last eight.

Senegal failed to qualify for the next three World Cups, ending that barren run when they qualified for Russia in 2018.

This year's round of 16 qualification is the furthest they have gone since their debut in 2002.

Ghana (2010)

Asamoah Gyan and Kevin Prince Boateng. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Ghana were in a group consisting of Serbia, Australia and Germany as the World Cup was hosted by an African nation for the first time in South Africa. 

Despite losing their final group game to Germany, the Black Stars progressed to the last 16 on goal difference, ahead of Australia. 

They beat the USA 2-1 in extra time to set up an exciting quarter-final match with Uruguay, a match which will live long in the memory.

The quarter-final became one of the most controversial matches in the tournament's history as Luis Suarez was sent off for a deliberate handball, gifting Ghana the chance to snatch a famous win and become the first African side to advance to the semi-finals of the World Cup.

However, the drama was not done as Asamoah Gyan rifled his spot-kick onto the crossbar. The game went to penalties, where Ghana eventually fell to a heartbreaking defeat.

Morocco (2022)

Hakim Ziyech of Morocco and Achraf Hakimi. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Morocco's campaign got underway with a goalless draw against Croatia before pulling off shock 2-0 win against European giants Belgium. A 2-1 victory over Canada in their final game meant they qualified as winners of Group F to set up a last 16 meeting with ball possession kings Spain.

In a rather tense affair, the match went to extra time and then penalties.

Spain failed to score any of their three penalties, while Paris Saint Germain star Achraf Hakimi netted the decisive spot-kick with a "Panenka" to send the African nation to the quarter-finals.

Morocco's World Cup will not get easier as they will face Portugal in the last eight on Saturday.

No African team has ever made it to the semi-finals, but with the belief and character that Morocco has shown throughout the tournament, they could well cause an upset and shock Portugal.

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