SuperSport viewers on DStv and GOtv will be counting down the days to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, with the tournament set to run from 20 November to 18 December and provide the most thrilling distillation of ‘The Beautiful Game’.
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One of the most open and unpredictable groups at Qatar 2022 is Group F. It features the last tournament’s runners-up, Croatia, one of the top-ranked and most talented teams in the world, Belgium, as well as African hopefuls Morocco and Canada, who are returning to the global showpiece for the first time in more than 30 years. On paper, Croatia and Belgium are the favourites to progress, but the Atlas Lions and Maple Leafs are potent opponents and more than capable of an upset.
Belgium / Nickname: The Red Devils / Previous World Cup appearances: 13 / Best World Cup performance: Third Place 2018 / World Cup record: P48 W20 D9 L19 GF68 GA72.
Croatia / Nickname: The Blazers / Previous World Cup appearances: 5 / Best World Cup performance: Runners-up 2018 / World Cup record: P23 W11 D4 L8 GF35 GA26.
Canada / Nickname: The Maple Leafs / Previous World Cup appearances: 1 / Best World Cup performance: Group stage 1986 / World Cup record: P3 W0 D0 L3 GF0 GA5.
Morocco / Nickname: The Atlas Lions / Previous World Cup appearances: 5 / Best World Cup performance: Round of 16 1986 / World Cup record: P16 W2 D5 L9 GF9 GA14.
Players to watch
Kevin De Bruyne – The Manchester City star is one of the best playmakers in world football, and his ability both toe create and finish off scoring chances will be on full display at Qatar 2022.
Luka Modric – One of the best players in the world in the past decade and a half, Modric will look to summon all his energy and creativity for what will surely be his last major international tournament.
Alphonso Davies – The Bayern Munich wingback/winger is one of the most visceral and athletic players in world football today, and Canada will be desperate to have him at peak form and fitness for Qatar 2022.
Achraf Hakimi – A star on the European club stage, Hakimi is an even more crucial player for Morocco and will be aiming to light up Qatar 2022 with his speed and dead-ball striking.
Team to watch
Canada – The North American team were enormously impressive in qualification, finishing ahead of perennial World Cup participants Mexico and the United States. While the Maple Leafs have only a few household names in their squad – including Alphonso Davies and Junior Hoilett – it is their organisation, discipline and team spirit which has carried them back to the World Cup… and could yet take them further still.
“One of the internal priorities has been scouting our opponents and looking at ways we can hopefully close the qualitative gap that, as underdogs, we’ll need to deal with,” said Canada coach John Herdman. “There’s also a lot of work going into looking at the mindset of the group and how we tweak the culture to bring another level of performance out of them and put in place a tactical blueprint that gives us a chance to really compete.”
Wednesday 23 November
12:00: Morocco v Croatia
21:00: Belgium v Canada
Sunday 27 November
15:00: Belgium v Morocco
18:00: Croatia v Canada
Thursday 1 December
17:00: Croatia v Belgium
17:00: Canada v Morocco
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