The FIFA World Cup 2022 is on the horizon, and football lovers cannot stop discussing the showpiece event. Some teams will make their debut appearance in the glitz, unique and glamour tournament, while others will be hoping to taste glory in Qatar.
Brazil, Argentina, Belgium, Germany, France, England, Spain and Portugal are among the top teams to look out for in the World Cup, but here we look at the nations that could spring a surprise or two in the tournament that will be played from November 20 to December 18.
Without further ado, let us take a look at the 5 teams who have the potential to be surprise packages in the 2022 World Cup.
Having qualified for the World Cup finals with a game to spare, Ecuador’s road to Qatar was full of drama. From Jordi Cruyff leaving his post before taking charge of a qualifying game to Chile alleging that the nation had made it through using an ineligible player, the Ecuadorian fans have witnessed it all.
But that didn’t stop coach Gustavo Alfaro from making plans for the World Cup in Qatar. In Moises Caicedo, Pervis Estupinan, Enner Valencia, Michael Estrada and Piero Hincapie, Ecuador have a talented, fighting and passionate group that are well prepared to spring a surprise or two.
This will be Morocco’s sixth World Cup appearance in its history. They made it to the World Cup finals in Qatar by thrashing DR Congo 5-2 on aggregate in their final qualifier.
The Atlas Lions have been dealt a tough hand with Croatia and Belgium in their group, but they have players of top quality who can win matches single-handedly. The likes of Achraf Hakimi, Hakim Ziyech, Romain Saiss and Noussair Mazraoui are part of a close-knit Moroccan team that have the potential to beat any team on their day.
Former manager Vahid Halilhodzic was sacked in August and replaced by Walid Regragui, who will have the task of getting the best out of this team in the showpiece event.
Costa Rica shocked the world by winning the group that included England, Uruguay and Italy in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. This time they head to Qatar with another tough group to negotiate.
The Costa Ricans have drawn with Germany, Spain and Japan in Group E of the upcoming World Cup—perhaps another ‘Group of Death’. They were the surprise package of the tournament in Brazil eight years ago, registering eye-catching victories over Italy and Uruguay and holding England to a goalless draw to win their group.
A core of the 2014 squad are still playing a vital part in the North American nation. In Keylor Navas, Bryan Ruiz, Joel Campbell, Bryan Oviedo and Celso Borges, Costa Rica have strong pillars to rely on while Jewison Bennette and Brandon Aguilera are set for their breakthrough campaigns.
Under head coach Luis Fernando Suarez, Costa Rica have a strong spine in their squad that will be hoping to repeat the 2014 heroics in Qatar.
Serbia failed to make it out of the group stage in 2010 or 2018 but have bigger ambitions this time around in Qatar.
The Eagles topped their qualifying group undefeated and head into the showpiece event off the back of some really good performances in the UEFA Nations League. Since Dragan Stojkovic took over in March 2021, Serbia have played fast, attacking and fluid football utilising their wing-backs.
In Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahovic, they have two powerful strikers capable of giving any defences a run for their money, while the guile of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic from midfield mixed with attacking forays of wing-backs Filip Kostic and Andrija Zivkovic, will make Serbia a strong unit to deal with in Qatar.
Dragan Stojkovic’s side opens their World Cup campaign against mighty Brazil, and if Serbia stays in shape, defends well and finds a way to break the Tite-managed team’s press, an upset cannot be ruled out.
The United States failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia but have made a dash in this year’s mega event under Gregg Berhalter. They are a part of deceptively difficult Group B which also includes England, Wales and Iran.
The defence has been one of the biggest areas of concern for Berhalter, and losing Chris Richards to injury has only added to his woes. But the USA travel to Qatar with the hope of not only showcasing their talents but also upsetting some big guns on their way.
Berhalter has some young, talented and dynamic attackers who can have a big impact on the team’s balance, both unlocking their attacking potential and providing better cover in an otherwise unreliable defence.
If the Americans can somehow get past the group stages, who knows how far can they go.
I am Rohan Sengupta from one of the busiest cities in India, Mumbai. A Journalism graduate with a keen interest in sports, football is something I simply cannot live without and writing, discussing and analyzing the game is what I do 24*7.