Team-By-Team Guide To The 2022 Qatar World Cup

The 2022 World Cup is right around the corner.  The tournament gets underway on November 21, with the final taking place under a month later on December 18, 2022.

The group stage draw has come and gone, with eight sets of four teams set to compete, with a 32-team format at the World Cup.

Here are all 32 teams as the competition edges closer, and we analyze which nations are the favourites to win, who are the star players and managers to watch out for;

Group A: Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands


Who’s the manager?

Felix Sanchez – Born in Spain, Sanchez began his career as a coach within the youth system at Barcelona. He has been in charged since 2017 and oversaw their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

But in 2019 he led them to the AFC Asian Cup title for the first time in the country’s history and has taken them to various other international tournaments – like the 2019 Copa America and 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Neither ended well for Qatar but the chance to play strong teams has boosted their progress 

Who’s the star man? 

Akram Afif – Among a squad of unheralded names who mostly play their football on home soil, Afif stands out as their top talent

A winger who can play up front, Afif left for Belgian side Eupen in 2015 before becoming the first Qatari-born signing in LaLiga history when he moved to Villarreal in 2016. It didn’t work out in Spain, however, and he’s back in Qatar with Al Sadd.

Still only 25, Afif has 75 goals and 62 assists in 118 games for Al Sadd and will be their most dangerous threat as they look to shine on home soil in November. 



Who’s the manager?

Gustavo Alfaro – The Argentine took over the reigns of the Ecuador national team in 2020, guiding Ecuador to an unlikely fourth spot in the South American qualification standings and thus an automatic spot at Qatar 2022. 

The 59-year-old has the likes of Boca Juniors, Tigre and Al-Ahli on his managerial CV and will be tasked with guiding Ecuador at their first World Cup finals since 2014. 

Enner Valencia

Who’s the star man?

Enner Valencia – The former West Ham man is his country’s most experienced forward and has a supreme goalscoring record, notching 35 goals in 70 appearances. 

Now playing at Fenerbahce, Valencia scored four goals through qualification, while team-mate Michael Estrada of D.C. United scored six goals.  



Who’s the manager?

Aliou Cisse – The former Birmingham and Portsmouth man has been in charge of his national team since 2015 and it’s been an emotional rollercoaster under enormous pressure to return Senegal to the heights of the 2002 team, who reached the World Cup quarter-finals.

They didn’t make it out of the group stage in Russia in 2018 and were then beaten finalists in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. There was finally cause for celebration earlier this year when Senegal lifted their first-ever Africa Cup of Nations. Now Cisse is targeting improvement on the global stage.  

Sadio Mane

Who’s the star man?

Sadio Mane – The man has stepped up and delivered in the last two decisive moments Senegal have found themselves in, taking down team-mate Mohamed Salah in the process.

Mane scored the winning penalty in the Africa Cup of Nations final and netted another decisive spot kick to dump Egypt out of World Cup qualifying and seal Senegal’s place in Qatar. He brings the stardust to an impressive Senegal team. 



Who’s the manager?

Louis van Gaal –  Like a moth to a flame, the temptation of leading Holland out at another major tournament was just too good to turn down for Van Gaal, who in August came out of retirement five years after being sacked by Man United.

In a rollercoaster few days, Van Gaal recently described the World Cup being staged in Qatar as ‘bulls***’, publicly slapped down Virgil van Dijk over tactics and told Ajax coach Erik ten Hag to avoid Old Trafford like the plague.

He’s got them winning again, which is the most important thing, and will be hoping to build on the promising signs the Dutch showed at Euro 2020. 

Virgil van Dijk

Who’s the star man?

Virgil van Dijk – Holland were impressive at Euro 2020 and swept all before them in the group stage before the dejection of being knocked out by Czech Republic in the last 16. But, like Liverpool, they are a much better team with Van Dijk in defence.

The 30-year-old has been immense for Jurgen Klopp and his displays have been so good that you’d think he didn’t even suffer a season-ending knee injury back in October 2020. Now he’s back, the Dutch have that fear factor and protect that only Van Dijk brings.


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