The FIFA World Cup 2022 is fast approaching, and Group A has some good teams. This iteration of the World Cup will take place between November and December, and club football will pause for that period.
Hosts Qatar are in Group A along with South American side Ecuador. The other two sides are The Netherlands and Senegal. They are the two favorites on paper.
Currently, there is an international break, and it is the final chance for the national teams to perfect their tactics and selections before the World Cup. The players that have been selected will most likely find themselves on the plane to Qatar in November. Mentioned below is one player from each Group A team that will be an important figure during the tournament.
#1 Almoez Ali – Qatar
Almoez Ali is a 26-year-old forward who plays for Al-Duhail SC in the Stars League. He has made 163 appearances for Al-Duhail, scoring 50 goals and providing 47 assists.
Ali can play across the front three and has played several games as a winger on both flanks. He made his debut for Qatar at the age of 20 and has gone on to play 82 times for his country, scoring 39 goals.
Qatar’s most experienced player is Hasan Al-Haydos, who has made over 160 appearances for the national team, scoring 34 goals. For Ali to score more goals in half as many games shows how important of a player he is. Taking into consideration the teams in Group A, Ali will need to be clinical if they want to stand a chance of qualification for the knockout stages.
#2 Enner Valencia – Ecuador
32-year-old Enner Valencia is Ecuador’s most experienced player, with 72 appearances for the national team. Valencia is also Ecuador’s top goal scorer, with 35 goals to his name.
Valencia is no stranger to Premier League fans, given his time at Everton and West Ham. He currently plays for Fenerbahce in the Turkish Süper Lig.
Valencia started strongly this season, making 11 appearances, scoring eight goals, and providing two assists. Ecuador also have two of Brighton & Hove Albion’s brightest players in left-back Pervis Estupinan and defensive midfielder Moisés Caicedo. Ecuador are a young and exciting team with an average age of 24, but Valencia will need to shoulder a lot of the responsibility to progress in the group.
#3 Sadio Mané – Senegal – AFCON Champions
Senegal have some very talented players like Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly, Ismaila Sarr, etc, but there is no doubt Sadio Mané is their shining light. The 30-year-old left-winger has made 91 appearances for Senegal, scoring 33 goals, and is idolized in his country. He left Liverpool this summer to sign for Bayern Munich and has five goals in 11 appearances for the Bavarians.
Mané famously scored the winning penalty to make Senegal champions of Africa in January, and they are one of the favorites to progress to the next round in Group A. It is a team with plenty of pace and an experienced spine, with most of the players playing in Europe’s top leagues. Many will be watching Senegal with a keen interest in Group A.
#4 Virgil van Dijk – The Netherlands – Group favourites
The Netherlands have several world class players in their squad, but Virgil van Dijk will be key to their success. The 31-year-old has made 47 appearances for the national team since his debut in 2015. As a centre-back, he has thrived in a leadership role under Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool in recent seasons. On his day, the Dutchman is unbeatable, and forwards struggle to find their rhythm against him.
He has not had the best start to the new season, and Dutch fans will hope he regains form soon. Memphis Depay is the country’s most talented forward player with 42 goals in 80 appearances, but Van Dijk serves as a springboard for success. There are others like Steven Berghuis, Frenkie de Jong, etc, but if The Netherlands are to progress through this group, then they will need Van Dijk at his best.