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Qatar World Cup 2022: Group A preview

Group A consists of Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands

In this article, we preview the teams in Group A and their World Cup 2022 chances, fixtures, route to World Cup qualification and key members of each squad.

Team Qatar

Manager: Felix Sanchez
World ranking: 50th
World Cup 2018 performance: Did not qualify
Best World Cup performance: No appearances
Nickname: The Maroons

Team Ecuador

Manager: Gustavo Alfaro
World ranking: 44th
World Cup 2018 performance: Group stage
Best World Cup performance: Round of 16
Nickname: La Tri

Team Senegal

Manager: Aliou Cisse
World ranking: 18th
World Cup 2018 performance: Group stage
Best World Cup performance: Quarter-finals (2002)
Nickname: The Lions of Teranga

Team Netherlands

Manager: Louis van Gaal
World ranking: 8th
World Cup 2018 performance: Did not qualify
Best World Cup performance: Runners-up (1974, 1978, 2010)
Nickname: Oranje

Group A members

 

Group-stage fixtures – UK time

Team Qatar fixtures:

  • Sunday, November 20, 16:00 – Qatar v Ecuador
  • Friday, November 25, 13:00 – Qatar v Senegal
  • Tuesday, November 29, 15:00 – Qatar v Netherlands

Team Ecuador fixtures:

  • Sunday, November 20, 16:00 – Ecuador v Qatar
  • Friday, November 25, 16:00 – Ecuador v Netherlands
  • Tuesday, November 29, 15:00 – Ecuador v Senegal

Team Senegal fixtures:

  • Sunday, November 20, 16:00 – Ecuador v Qatar
  • Friday, November 25, 16:00 – Ecuador v Netherlands
  • Tuesday, November 29, 15:00 – Ecuador v Senegal

Team Netherlands fixtures:

  • Monday, November 21, 16:00 – Netherlands v Senegal
  • Friday, November 25, 16:00 – Netherlands v Ecuador
  • Tuesday, November 29, 15:00 – Netherlands v Qatar

Route to World Cup qualification

Team Qatar:

As host nation, Qatar automatically qualified for the World Cup however they were still drafted in the Asian Football Confederation’s qualifying stages.

This was because those who would contest the 2023 Asian Cup would be decided by the same qualification process as that of the World Cup.

The hosts were drafted in a five-team group featuring Oman, India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

They comfortably won Group E, finishing on 22 points – four points off Oman ensuring that these two teams qualified to the Asian Cup.

Team Ecuador:

As a part of the South American CONMEBOL, Ecuador qualified for the World Cup via a fourth place finish in a ten-team group, securing the confederations fourth automatic spot for qualification.

They won a total of 26 points – with seven wins, five draws and six losses which ensured that they were two points better of than fifth-placed Peru.


A dominant 6-1 victory against Colombia was the highlight of the qualification bid, with six different scorers including Estrada, Plata and Pervis Estupinan, now of Brighton all on the scoresheet.

With a strong and youthful spine, the Ecuadorians will seek to spring a surprise in Group A against their more fancied opponents.

Team Senegal:

The Lions of Teranga breezed through a group featuring Togo, Namibia and Congo in the second round of qualification after having been given a waiver to go throught the first round.

Senegal were unbeaten in six games, winning five and drawing one; proving exactly why they are the number one ranked team in Africa.

Victory against Namibia in a match that ended 4-1 in favour of Cisse’s men was the pick of their second-round results, with Sadio Mane proving inspirational. The only blotch in their results came in their penultimate game against a doggedly determined Togo side who held them to a score draw.

On the back of a memorable Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaign which saw them conquer all in their way to be crowned champions of Africa. The Teranga Lions will remain confident to make their mark in Qatar despite injury fears for star forward Sadio Mane.

Team Netherlands:

The Dutch have been a picture of inconsistency across the past decade or so – from the highs of the World Cup final in 2010 to failing to qualify for Russia 2018, they come to Qatar with some variable major tournament history in recent years.

And despite swapping Frank De Boer for a more familiar face in Louis van Gaal, there remains questions surrounding the Oranje despite featuring arguably the most complete centre back this part of the century or so in Virgil van Dijk.

The Oranje finished top of their group to attain automatic qualification.

Ones to watch

Team Qatar:

Top scorer: Almoez Ali – 6
Most assists: Akram Afif – 3
Talisman: Hassan Al-Haydos

Al-Haydos is a playmaker who starred for Qatar during their 2019 Asian Cup triumph and has proved himself a masterful midfielder at club level with Al Sadd.

With 158 games under his belt, Hassan Al-Haydos is the all-time most capped Qatari international and among the most influential players in the current team; contributing a total of 38 goals across all competition for his nation.

25 year old Akram Afif will be key to Qatar’s hope to qualify from the group stage having proved himself a masterful finisher with the technical ability and vision to create numerous chances.

Afif has been a vital and indispensable cog in the Qatari machine and many will look to him and Hassan Al-Haydos to inspire their nation to a memorable World Cup showing.

Team Ecuador:

Top scorer: Michael Estrada – 6
Most assists: Moises Caicedo – 4
Talisman: Enner Valencia

Having inspired his side against an in-form Uruguay team with two goals in a 4-2 voctory, Michael Estrada looks poised to show up for his nation at Qatar.

Estrada and experienced campaigner Enner Valencia backed by the young starlet setting the English Premier League alight, 21 year old Moises Caicedo make Ecuador a far more tricky proposition than most people give them credit for.

There is a brilliant mix of youth and experience in this the Ecuadorian team that will seek to spring a surprise at the big guns in Group A. Don’t be surprised if they knock down a Goliath or two at the FIFA World Cup 2022.

Team Senegal:

Top scorer: Famara Diedhiou – 4
Most assists: Sadio Mane – 4
Talisman: Sadio Mane

After securing their spot in Qatar on March 29, Senegal are arguably the best placed African team to make an impact in Qatar – With a supremely talented squad full of confidence after the winning the AFCON.

The reigning African champions are one of just three African nations who have made an appearance in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.

After reports of key man Sadio Mane having suffered a leg injury in Bayern Munich’s match on Tuesday (November 9), the national team will hope that information coming in that the injury is not as a serious as initially feared is closer to truth than was first reported by L’Equipe.

The Senegal team is made up of a strong spine of superstars with the likes of goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, defender Abdou Diallo and midfielders Pape Gueye and Nampalys Mendy – backed by Kalildou Koulibaly, Idrissa Gana Gueye and (a hopefully fit) Sadio Mane.

Team Netherlands:

Top scorer: Memphis Depay – 12
Most assists: Memphis Depay – 6
Talisman: Virgil van Dijk

Memphis Depay proved himself an inspiration in the Oranje’s bid for World Cup qualification. With two braces and a hatrick, Louis van Gaal will hope Memphis replicates such in Qatar.

Virgil van Dijk will be lapping up the opportunity to finally perform at the world stage after having cruelly missed out on Euro 2020 because of an injury. He will ably deputied by Stefan De Vrij, Matthijs De Ligt and Nathan Ake.

Frenkie De Jong is one to watch as he keeps things ticking in the middle of the park for the Dutch side togwther with Davy Klaassen and Teun Koopmeiners and links up play to Depay and talented youngster Cody Gakpo.

There is much to admire about this Dutch team and the odds will be on them to together with Senegal, make it out of Group A barring any upsets.

 

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