There are seven days left until the start Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup, and the anticipation is building. While the competition may have been marred by controversy surrounding Qatar’s human rights record, which has not gone down too well with some Western media, it will not stop the world’s biggest show from going ahead.
We begin the countdown to the world’s biggest sporting event with the highlights of Group A, where hosts and debutants Qatar, African champions Senegal, three-time World Cup finalists, the Netherlands; and the four-time visitors, Ecuador, are full.
Qatar – Maroon
Looking at the group consisting of Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands, it’s hard to argue against the belief that hosts Qatar will make up the numbers, with no history at the tournament. As the hosts of the competition, many do not fancy their chances, with the Netherlands looking to correct the history books against African champions Senegal and an in-form Ecuador side.
Fresh off international friendlies against some of the best teams from around the world, coach Felix Sanchez’s Maroons, as they are fondly called, will be looking to punch above their weight in terms of home support to make their cut. the first important World Cup in history.
FIFA Ranking: 50
Player to watch
Almoez Ali will carry the hopes and aspirations of Qatar, even if the country does not have a player who has a significant impact on the international scene. With 42 goals in 85 games, Ali holds Qatar’s goalscoring record and will be motivated to upset the odds and help them progress to the unlikely second round.
Ecuador – Tricolore
The Ecuadorians are in strong form and have only lost one of their last 14 matches, although eight of those matches ended in draws. They have scored just two goals in their last five games, which has cast doubt on their ability to progress in Qatar. This will be their greatest burden.
Although they set a CONMEBOL record with 27 goals in a single qualifier, some analysts believe that the height of the home pitch, which usually favors the home team, led to Ecuador’s success in the qualifiers.
Fans can rest assured that the Tricolor will not be easy prey for Qatar, the Netherlands or Senegal, although there will be no altitude to gain Qatar’s advantage.
FIFA Ranking: 44
Player to watch
Enner Valencia expects the old warhorse to put aside his wealth of experience at an average age of 25.
Senegal – Lions of Teranga
Given the embarrassment of riches at the disposal of coach Aliou Cisse, the reigning African champions enter this competition as one of the strongest teams who could be the surprise factor in Qatar.
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The Lions of Teranga would not be fazed by the injury scare for their talisman Sadio Mane and can still score without the Bayern Munich star, who has a 50/50 chance of returning before the end of the group stage. With a bit of luck and Mane fully recovered, Senegal can hope to make it past the group stage.
FIFA Ranking: 18
Player to watch
All eyes will be on Sadio Mane, who has been the team’s talisman for the past five years and led them to their first Africa Cup of Nations victory last February.
Netherlands – Orange
Oranje is a team full of talent and is led by an experienced manager, Louis van Gaal. They have the experience and skill needed to win any tournament and go into their opener against Senegal with a fearsome 15-match unbeaten record (W11 D4). They last lost to the Czech Republic in Euro 2022 in June 2021.
The healthy mix of veteran experience and young talent is working well and coach Louis van Gaal will be tasking his lads to continue their top form and hope that luck will finally smile on the three-time World Cup finalists in 1974. 1978 and 2010.
Player to watch
Memphis Depay has been the player of the playoffs and looks like a different player when he plays for the Netherlands.
FIFA Ranking: 8
Group A prediction
After defeats to Senegal and the Netherlands, Qatar will be knocked out of the competition at the group stage, despite having a strong chance of drawing level with a shy goal from Ecuador.
In 20 of the previous 21 World Cups, the hosts progressed to the second round of the competition, but Qatar will likely join South Africa as only the second host nation to fail to progress from their group.
With two losses against Senegal and Holland, Ecuador will leave the competition one point behind Qatar. The Dutch look to be in a strong position to win the group with nine points after wins against Senegal, Qatar and Ecuador, while Senegal are in a strong position after wins against Ecuador and Qatar.
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