QATAR 2022: The Big Countdown “60 days to go…”

The most compact FIFA World Cup since 1930 and the very first edition to be held in the Middle East and Arab world will kick off on 20 November to 18 December 2022. To get you up to speed, VIP Magazine’s IKENNA OKAFOR presents the big countdown with a weekly compilation of news, facts and figures.

Wayne Rooney

Rooney tips England as favourite
Manchester United legend, Wayne Rooney, has named England as one of the favourites to win this year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
England is in Group B in the 2022 World Cup and will face Iran, USA and Wales.
“It will be tough, obviously. We’ve only won it once,” Rooney said
“England are definitely one of the favourites [to win the World Cup]. They have to be. They are in a group they should get out of – though the US will surprise a few people.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup will begin on Sunday, November 20, in Qatar.

World Cup Facts
English referee Graham Poll booked Croatian Josip Simunic three times before sending him off in 2006. He should have been sent off after the second card. However, Poll got confused.

The highest-scoring World Cup game in history was played in 1954 when Austria defeated Switzerland by a score of 7-5.

Italy’s goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca was the first-ever goalkeeper to be sent off in a World Cup match on 23rd June 1994. He was sent off the soccer field after 21 minutes when he handled the ball outside the penalty box in their game against Norway.
Laurent Blanc scored the first-ever World Cup Golden Goal as France beat Paraguay 1-0 on 28th June 1998.
The oldest referee to officiate a FIFA World Cup game was George Reader of England. He was 53 years and 236 days old at the 1950 Brazil-Uruguay final.

Ghanian National Team

Country to watch

2022 offers Ghana an opportunity for redemption after its heartbreaking performance against Uruguay in 2010. Had Asamoah Gyan scored a last-minute penalty, they would have reached their first-ever World Cup semi-final.

The highlight of the West African nation’s disappointing campaign four years later was that they were the only team to prevent Germany from winning every match at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Milovan Rajevac

After suffering a humiliating early exit at the Africa Cup of Nations, manager Milovan Rajevac was dismissed before their World Cup Play-Off. Otto Addo was appointed interim manager, and an away-match win over Nigeria secured Ghana their place at a fourth World Cup.

Mohammed Kudus

Ghana international, Mohammed Kudus is currently dominating the headlines across Europe following his scoring form for Dutch champions Ajax.

The attacker will hope to make the final squad to Qatar where the Black Stars have been pooled in Group H alongside Portugal, South Korea and Uruguay.

Antonio Rudiger

Player to watch
Antonio Rudiger (Germany/ Real Madrid)
Position: Centre-back
Age: 29

The era of Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng in the centre of the German defence is now in the past. After both veterans were moved on by Flick’s predecessor Joachim Low, there have been changes at the back.

The new defensive leader is Antonio Rudiger, who moved from Chelsea, with whom he won the UEFA Champions League in 2020/21, to Real Madrid ahead of this season for 40 million euros, further underlining his burgeoning reputation.

Rudiger made himself a fixture in the national team a number of years ago. With his physical presence and strength in one-on-one situations, he brings a real solidity to the German defence.

Born in Berlin to a Sierra Leonean family, he has racked up an impressive 53 caps. In the qualifying matches for Qatar 2022, he played the full 90 minutes for seven matches and scored his second goal for his country in the 4-0 win away to Iceland.

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