By MW Desk
Either because of an untimely injury, or their country failed to qualify, the World Cup 2022 will be bereft of these star players
Erling Haaland, the most sought-after striker in the world, will not be seen in action in Qatar World Cup 2022. After leaving his mark in the Austrian League and Bundesliga, Haaland has taken the Premier League by storm, smashing 18 goals in just 12 appearances for Manchester City.
Despite scoring five goals in the qualifying round, Haaland failed to drive Norway to the marquee competition in Qatar, as they were edged out by Turkey, who claimed second place behind the Netherlands. Norway managed only one victory in the absence of Haaland in the final four games of the qualifiers.
Earlier reports suggested that the legendary striker was considering international retirement for a while. However, he laid the speculations to rest, and pushed for a selection for Sweden. Sadly, though, even Ibrahimovic couldn’t overturn the two-goal deficit inflicted by Poland in the play-off decider earlier this year in March. It was strange to see Sweden crashing out of the Qatar World Cup, given only four years ago they stunned everyone by beating the Netherlands in the qualifying fixture, and Germany in the group stage. By the time the 2026 World Cup begins, Zlatan will already be 45, thus it’s fair to say that he won’t be adding to his World Cup appearances.
In a repeat of the AFCON 2022 final, Mohamed Salah missed from the spot during a penalty shootout defeat against Senegal, meaning he won’t be adding anything to his tally in Qatar. Losing to Senegal was a massive blow to both Salah and his Egyptian team, as they were desperate to redeem themselves in Qatar, after they failed to win even a single match in Russia World Cup 2018. It has been a topsy-turvy season for Salah after he renewed his contract with Liverpool before the beginning of this current season.
Manchester City’s winger Riyad Mahrez will be watching the action from the comfort of his home, after Algeria succumbed to an agonising 2-1 defeat to Cameroon, thanks to a last-minute winner from Karl Toko Ekambi. Algeria was crestfallen after the defeat which they pinned upon the “disgraceful refereeing”. Algerian Federation’s appeal for a rematch was rejected by FIFA. Provided Nigeria qualify for the next edition of the tournament, Mahrez, now 31, would back himself to break into the playing XI.
Despite being instrumental for Crystal Palace for many years now, Wilfred Zaha failed to replicate his form for his national team. The Ivorian will be one of many famous names, including fellow countryman, Franck Kessie, to miss out on the upcoming competition. Ivory Coast surrendered the World Cup spot after losing out to Cameroon. Zaha made his international debut for England, but switched to play for his native country in 2017. However, he is now reconsidering his international career with Ivory Coast, requesting the team management to not pick him for international duty.
France will be gutted to miss the service of N’Golo Kanté after the Chelsea midfielder was ruled out of action for four months because of a recurring hamstring injury. The last few years of Kanté’s career have been dotted with injuries, and this season, he has played just 175 minutes of football. Kante played a crucial role in Les Bleus’ World Cup-winning campaign, providing impeccable defensive solidity at the heart of the midfield which allowed Paul Pogba to play in a highly advanced role.
France suffered a massive dent in their hopes for the successful defence of the World Cup title after their talismanic midfielder Paul Pogba got ruled out due to injury. Pogba reunited with Juventus at the start of the season, but suffered a horrific knee injury even before the season began. He initially decided not to undergo surgery, but changed his mind last month. He played a pivotal role in France World Cup’s winning campaign in 2018, also scoring in the final against Croatia.
It can be argued that Marco Verratti is among the most underappreciated midfielder of our generation. Admittedly, it’s quite natural for a player to go under the radar if he plays for a team that boast the most decorated attacking troika of an era — Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, and Neymar. But there’s no one to steal the limelight when Verratti plays for Italy, and his virtuosity in the midfield gets the recognition that it deserves. Verratti was the vital cog of Italy’s Euro Cup-winning team, and he would have loved to emulate the same at a much bigger stage in Qatar. But Italy failed to qualify, after falling down to North Macedonia in the European playoffs.
Reproduced with permission from Mansworldindia.com