It was the same this time around for African nations. So near and yet so far. However, these African representatives can go back home with their heads held high and claim that they represented the continent with pride and dignity. Nigeria and Algeria fell to France and German respectively to make their way out of the world soccer showcase at the level of the last sixteen.
In the later game between German and Algeria, the first forty-five minutes provided plenty of entertainment as the Desert Warriors started a fast paced game which they maintained for the major part of the first period. In particular, Islam Slimani caused the German pair of twin centre backs in Per Mertesacker and Jerome Boateng a lot of problems. It was the acute senses and good judgement of goal keeper, Manuel Neuer which helped keep the Africans at bay the entire first period.
The other goalkeeper was also called in to make a brilliant save to keep his team in contention when Bastian Schweinsteiger unleashed a screamer of an effort which Rais Mbolhi in the Algeria goal did well to stop. With the mounting pressure that Algeria kept up, they were Almost awarded a goal after a brilliant exchange which culminated in a Slimani header which found the back of the net. However, the Brazillian referee, Sandro Meira Ricci ruled it not a goal because Slimani was adjudged to have been in an offside position. Chances continued to come thick and fast on both ends if the pitch but conversion of these was quite another story.
Whatever words manager Joachim Low had for his side at half-time they most certainly had the desired effect, as the Germans came flying out of the traps at the start of the second half. Andre Schurrle was brought on in place of Mario Gotze and his introduction appeared to provide the attacking spark they had missed in the first half. When defender Shkodran Mustafi headed straight into the arms of Mbolhi in the 48th minute and Muller had a penalty appeal turned down after being clattered in the box the Algerians knew they were in trouble. They, in turn, created a rare goal scoring opportunity in the 72nd minute but the Herman goalie was up to his task and stopped them in their tracks sending the match into extra time with no goals scored.
Two minutes into the extra time, that elusive goal finally came curtesy of Muller who beat his marker on the left flank before teeing up Schurrle, who managed to drag the ball back into the goal with a delicate back-heel. Despite this blow, the kept up their spirits and were almost rewarded in the 100th minute but Mehdi Mostefa drove his volley wide from well within the penalty box. They were severely punished by the Germans in the second half when, in the 119th minute, a blocked shot from Schurrie fell kindly upon Ozil who had the easiest of tasks to slam the ball into the roof of the net. Credit must be given to the Dessert Warriors in that despite the two goal defective, they did not lose heart but soldiered on resulting in the consolation goal that was netted on the stroke of full time by Djabou with a neat header.
Earlier in the evening, fellow African were not as well spirited as the crumbled in the last few minutes of a game that they had held on to with such grace and aplomb. Two goals in the last five minutes heralded the end of the road for the African champions and saw France progress to the last eight in the world tournament where they will square up with German.