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Do Africa's five representatives have World Cup pedigree?

Ahead of Friday's draw at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow, KweséESPN examine the World Cup pedigrees of Africa's five representatives for next summer's showpiece.

None of Africa's five qualifiers are new to the top table, but some have been waiting longer than most for their return to the tournament, while others can point to a more illustrious World Cup track record than their continental rivals.

Nigeria: The Super Eagles have made five previous World Cups, qualifying for every tournament since 1994 inclusive, with the exception of 2006, when they were pipped by Angola during qualification.

On three occasions, they've qualified from the group stage, falling to Italy, Denmark and France in 1994, 1998 and 2014 respectively, all in tight encounters.

Perhaps their greatest World Cup display was their maiden appearance in the United States, when the Golden Generation finally ended the Super Eagles' wait for a ticket to football's high table.

Their 3-0 victory over Bulgaria was an outstanding display of attacking football, and Rashidi Yekini's 21st-minute opener and subsequent celebration ranks among the most iconic moments in the history of the African game.

It wasn't the last time the West African giants were to contribute one of the tournament's most memorable moments, as Sunday Oliseh secured one of the finest results for one of the continent's teams at the World Cup when his 78th-minute thunderbolt settled a rollercoaster 3-2 victory over Spain in Nantes four years later.

The likes of Jay-Jay Okocha and Nwankwo Kanu were present in 2002, although it was Vincent Enyeama who stole the plaudits after he kept England at bay in a 0-0 draw. The Cat would also repeat his heroics against La Albiceleste - and Lionel Messi - when the two nations were pooled together for the fourth time in Brazil.

Morocco secured a first World Cup berth since 1998 when they bested the Ivory Coast to seal top spot in their qualifying group, with the Atlas Lions set for their fifth appearance at the World Cup.

While they've been out of the picture for two decades, the North African were viewed as the continent's pioneers in the World Cup, at least until Cameroon reached the quarter finals in 1990.

In 1986, a team managed by Brazilian Mehdi Faria and including the likes of Badou Zaki, Mohammed Timoumi, Abdelmajid Dolmy and Aziz Bouderbala became the first African side to win their World Cup group when they finished ahead of the heavyweight trio of Portugal, England and Poland in Mexico.

Pitted against West Germany in the second round, they held the eventual runners-up for 88 minutes before Lothar Matthaus netted a late winner.

Morocco were also beaten by West Germany in the 1970 edition of the tournament, and one or two older fans may relish the prospect of revenge if the duo were pitted together again.

Tunisia's recent World Cup history has been pretty bleak. Before their failure to qualify for the 2010 and 2014 events, the Eagles of Carthage had been present at the previous three editions - and failed to win a single match in any.

Indeed, their record in the three tournaments between 1998 and 2006 doesn't make for encouraging reading, with the North Africans taking just three points from a possible 27.

However, in their first World Cup appearance - back in 1978 - the North Africans became the first of the continent's sides to win a match at the grandest stage of all, breaking a 'jinx' that had held sway since Egypt became the continent's first side to qualify for a tournament - in 1934.

The Tunisians ended a four-decade long hoodoo when they dispatched Mexico in Argentina, bouncing back from 1-0 down to win 3-1 following an inspiring half-time team talk from coach Abdelmajid Chetali.

They could even have advanced from their group with a win in their final group game against West Germany, but an admirable 0-0 draw wasn't enough to progress.

Senegal may have the briefest World Cup pedigree of any of the continent's qualified quintet, but they arguably have the most memorable.

Indeed, while they've only qualified for one Mondiale - compared to Nigeria's five - the Lions of Teranga are one of only three African nations (the others being Ghana and Cameroon) to qualify for the quarter finals.

They achieved this feat at the 2002 showpiece in Japan and South Korea - a tournament remembered for some unexpected results and unforgettable giant-killings.

It was the West Africans who set the tone, stunning reigning world and European champions France in their group opener. It was a victory made all the sweeter considering the intertwined history between the two nations and the fact that the Senegal squad consisted almost exclusively of players plying their trade in the Metropole.

Bruno Metsu's side drew with Uruguay and Denmark in the group stage and beat Sweden in extra time in the Last 16 before falling to Turkey in the quarters. Could the current crop follow in the footsteps of El Hadji Diouf, Salif Diao, Papa Bouba Diop et al.?

Egypt: For Africa's most successful side at the Nations Cup, the Pharaohs have a thoroughly underwhelming World Cup record.

The Pharaohs were the first African nation to play in the competition - losing their first-round knockout match against Hungary in Naples - and became the continent's first scorers when Abdulrahman Fawzi scored twice.

Remarkably, they've only qualified once since - when they were dumped out in the group stage in 1990 - with consistent qualifying failure contrasting starkly with continental success.

The nation who have won more AFCONs - seven - than any other country have the scantest pedigree of any of the qualifiers, and will be desperate to make up for lost time in Russia.

Ed Dove is the Soccer Editor for KweséESPN. Follow him on Twitter @EddyDove.


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