GROUP A

2022-11-20T08:00:00.0000000Z

2022-11-20T08:00:00.0000000Z

dmg media (UK)

https://mailonline.pressreader.com/article/284584541768228

World Cup 2022

QATAR FIFA RANKING 51 LAST TIME This is their first time MANAGER Felix Sanchez — Spaniard has worked in Qatar since 2013 and took over the national team five years ago to build specifically for this tournament. Likes to play with three central defenders. THEY’RE A BIT LIKE... Wimbledon — attempting to bring football success to an area more famous for other things. Everyone in the Qatari squad plays in the domestic league. KEY MAN Almoez Ali — record scorer for his country with 42 in 85 games. If Qatar are to get the goals to progress, they will need their Sudanese-born talisman (right), who plays his club football with Al-Duhail, to fire on all cylinders. RISING STAR Homam Ahmed — 23-year-old Al-Gharafa defender has played regularly in the Asian Champions League. Tall and athletic, he fulfils a key role in Sanchez’s system at left wing-back and can pop up with goals. PROSPECTS Clear outsiders but no team will have prepared better and they will be something of a mystery, with none of their players featuring on the European circuit. Their game against Ecuador which opens the tournament will be key. ECUADOR FIFA RANKING 46 LAST TIME DNQ MANAGER Gustavo Alfaro — Argentine has helped rebuild Ecuador with a new generation following the retirement of players such as Antonio Valencia. Tactically flexible, he has not picked Bryan Castillo for the finals after controversy over his eligibility. THEY’RE A BIT LIKE... Southampton — they will be mostly ignored among all the World Cup big fish around them but, on a given day, they are capable of causing an upset. KEY MAN Moises Caicedo — has made a big impact at Brighton, with an £80million price tag put on the midfielder (below) who is coveted by both Liverpool and Chelsea. Still aged only 21, he has been ever-present for the Seagulls this season. RISING STAR Piero Hincapie — Bayer Leverkusen central defender has been a Champions League regular this season at the age of 20. An aggressive tackler who has been noted by Premier League clubs, he has already been sent off twice in the Bundesliga this season. PROSPECTS Face a battle with Holland and Senegal to get out of the group, with their final game against the Africans looking pivotal. Kicking off the tournament against hosts Qatar will be a proud moment. SENEGAL FIFA RANKING 20 (best in Africa) LAST TIME Group stage MANAGER Aliou Cisse — played for Senegal in the 2002 World Cup when they beat holders France. Been in charge since 2015 and led them to the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year. Big on discipline. THEY’RE A BIT LIKE... Liverpool — bulk of the squad has enjoyed success together over several years; the question is whether they still have the legs. KEY MAN Kalidou Koulibaly — with talisman Sadio Mane out of the tournament through injury, the experience of skipper Koulibaly (right) is even more essential. The 31-year-old Chelsea defender has not been at his best in the Premier League but was a stalwart in his country’s AFCON triumph this year. RISING STAR Krepin Diatta — Monaco winger, 23, has returned from a long-term knee issue and will provide youthful endeavour for a largely older team. Has skill and a good work ethic PROSPECTS There is pressure on Senegal as the only African nation fancied to reach the knockout stages. HOLLAND FIFA RANKING 10 LAST TIME DNQ MANAGER Louis van Gaal — one of the game’s titans and well-known to English fans for his spell at Manchester United. Now 71 and having recently battled prostate cancer, this is his third spell in charge of his country, dating back to 2000. THEY’RE A BIT LIKE... Barcelona — Catalan club’s possession game was first introduced by a Dutchman, Johan Cruyff. They even share the same player operating the midfield carousel, Frenkie de Jong. KEY MAN Virgil van Dijk — Liverpool defender (left) has dropped below his stellar standards this season but showed against Manchester City, the bigger the stage, the better he plays. Close second to Lionel Messi in the 2019 Ballon d’Or. RISING STAR Cody Gakpo — PSV striker has scored 14 goals this season after a summer in which he was strongly linked with Manchester United. The 23-year-old also has the technical ability to set up chances for others. PROSPECTS Expectations are high, having missed out on the last World Cup in Russia. Dutch fans will expect a run to quarter-finals.

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