Niger have again been handed a tough set of opponents in their FIFA World Cup ™ qualifying campaign, drawn in the 2010 preliminaries in the same group with 2006 finalists Angola, as well as Benin and Uganda.
It was the same four years ago. When the draw for the African preliminary qualifying round for the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ was made, Niger received one of the most difficult opponents in the form of Algeria. Few people gave the Mena any chance against the two-time finalists.
The sceptics proved to be right too as Algeria, who in 1982 caused one of the all-time FIFA World Cup shocks when they beat Germany in their opening group game, won the first leg in Niamey 1-0 and followed that up with a 6-0 victory in Algiers, sending Niger crashing out of the competition.
Surprisingly, Niger, who are considered to be one of the minnows in African football, had a positive FIFA World Cup qualifying record ahead of their matches against Algeria, having won five of their 12 games, drawn three and lost four.
Unlike most other African countries, Niger do not have any players based in Europe. Even so, their players will be keen to get things right ahead of South Africa 2010.