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.
Qatar set to shock Holland, Senegal
The host nation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup is leaving no stone unturned in its bid to qualify for the second. For them, the task is clear, and manager Felix Sanchez is a 46-year-old who knows the country. The Spaniard first came to Qatar in 2006, joining Aspire Academy. Since then, he’s led the team to the Asian Cup in 2019 and third place in the Arab Cup in December 2021. He has worked with the squad in a variety of age groups, and he has a lasting relationship with many of them.
On the pitch, results count, but off it, the World Cup represents a chance for the nation of Qatar to showcase the country to the world. Nassar Al-Khater is the Chief Executive Officer of the FIFA World Cup and feels that visitors will not only be amazed by the football and the stadiums.
The Netherlands are also in Group A. Preparations within the team stalled after veteran coach Louis van Gaal revealed his prostate cancer diagnosis.
Even though no African team have ever won the World Cup, Senegal is a team to watch. In a dramatic penalty shoot-out, they triumphed in the Africa Cup of Nations in February 2022. By the end of the month, history was repeating itself when Sadio Mane scored the winning penalty to deny Egypt a place in Qatar.
With a strong squad boosted by Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly, and Everton’s Idrissa Gana Gueye, they may be tough to beat throughout the tournament.
Qatar 2022 will be their fourth time at football’s showpiece event in the 21st century.
They will also be looking to make the last 16 for the first time since 2006 when a David Beckham strike for England ended their campaign. Perhaps this is Ecuador’s chance to shine.
World Cup Squads
Goalkeepers: Alisson (Liverpool), Ederson (Manchester City), Weverton (Palmeiras)
Defenders: Dani Alves (UNAM), Danilo (Juventus), Alex Sandro (Juventus), Alex Telles (Sevilla), Bremer (Juventus), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Marquinhos (PSG), Thiago Silva (Chelsea)
Midfielders: Casemiro (Manchester United), Everton Ribeiro (Flamengo), Bruno Guimaraes (Newcastle), Fabinho (Liverpool), Fred (Manchester United), Lucas Paqueta (West Ham)
Forwards: Antony (Manchester United), Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal), Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal), Neymar (PSG), Pedro (Flamengo), Raphinha (Barcelona), Rodrygo (Real Madrid), Richarlison (Tottenham Hotspur), Vinicius Jr (Real Madrid)
Goalkeepers: Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Ivica Ivusic (NK Osijek), Ivo Grbic (Atletico Madrid)
Defenders: Domagoj Vida (AEK Athens), Dejan Lovren (Zenit St Petersburg), Borna Barisic (Rangers), Josip Juranovic (Celtic), Josko Gvardiol (RB Leipzig), Borna Sosa (VfB Stuttgart), Josip Stanisic (Bayern Munich), Martin Erlic (Sassuolo), Josip Sutalo (Dinamo Zagreb)
Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan), Mario Pasalic (Atalanta), Nikola Vlasic (Torino, on loan from West Ham), Lovro Majer (Rennes), Kristijan Jakic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Luka Sucic (RB Salzburg)
Forwards: Ivan Perisic (Tottenham), Andrej Kramaric (1899 Hoffenheim), Bruno Petkovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Mislav Orsic (Dinamo Zagreb), Ante Budimir (Osasuna), Marko Livaja (Hajduk Split)
Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola, Hugo Lloris, Steve Mandanda
Defenders: Lucas Hernandez, Theo Hernandez, Presnel Kimpembe, Ibrahima Konate, Jules Kounde, Benjamin Pavard, William Saliba, Dayot Upamecano, Raphael Varane
Midfielders: Eduardo Camavinga, Youssouf Fofana, Matteo Guendouzi, Adrien Rabiot, Aurelien Tchouameni, Jordan Veretout
Forwards: Karim Benzema, Kingsley Coman, Ousmane Dembele, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Christopher Nkunku