Connect with us

World Cup

Five Most Disappointing Teams in World Cup Qualifiers So Far

Published

on

With only two matches remaining in the World Cup qualifiers for each squad, time is running out for a few teams that are on the outside looking in, reports America based Sports Daily.

While most teams have performed at or above expectations, a few have underperformed on the pitch, and have either been eliminated or are fighting for a final qualifying spot in their group. Let’s take a closer look at those teams.

ARGENTINA

While there has been some recent turmoil in their organizational structure, no one can question the talent available to the Albiceleste. Led by superstar Lionel Messi, this is a squad that no one would’ve predicted to be in danger of missing a trip to the World Cup for the first time since 1970. Yet with two games remaining in CONMEBOL group play, Argentina finds itself in fifth place, a point ahead of Chile.

With their final two matches against Peru and Ecuador, conventional wisdom would see Argentina punch their ticket to Russia. Of course, that same wisdom wouldn’t have predicted last-place Venezuela to tie Argentina 1-1 at Estadio Monumental in their most recent match.

Advertisement

 

THE NETHERLANDS

With only two games remaining in group play, the Orangemen currently find themselves out of a World Cup spot.

Unhappy with previous manager Danny Blind’s start to the World Cup qualifiers, he was replaced by 69-year-old Dick Advocaat, who had managed the Dutch team three times previously and was seen largely as a caretaker.

Recent results have made him appear as more of an undertaker, with the Orangemen on the verge of elimination.

Advertisement

With the team itself captained by Arjen Robben, and comprised of mostly European international players, one would think the Dutch FA has buyers’ remorse in appointing Advocaat to the managerial post.

Expect Advocaat to be removed immediately as manager after the final group match, given how badly the team has under performed.

CHILE

A team ranked in the top ten of the FIFA World Rankings should’ve already qualified for the World Cup, but Chile has struggled in group play.

With two games remaining, Chile finds itself needing at least four and possibly six points in order to advance beyond the group. But in the CONMEBOL group, every point is difficult and they have an uphill battle to advance to Russia.

Advertisement

Their underperformance is a bit surprising, given their recent successes in tournaments against the same teams.

While the squad is largely the same, there seems to be some dissension among the players. After the 1-0 loss against second-to-last-place Bolivia, star forward Alexis Sanchez ripped his critics (including reporters) on social media and indicated that the negativity was affecting his level of play.

A few days prior to the Sanchez comments, midfielder Arturo Vidal also lashed out at the media following a 3-0 loss at home to Paraguay.

Vidal also announced that he will retire from international play after the current World Cup competition is over for Chile. Based upon where Chile is in the current group stage, that figures to be next month.

 

Advertisement

CHINA

The last decade has seen China infuse hundreds of millions of dollars into their soccer program in order to establish a foothold on the world stage.

After the creation of their professional football league, they sought out the best managers available to train their players professionally.

Top-flight managers in the China Super League include Luiz Felipe Scolari, Manuel Pellegrini, Andre Villas-Boa and Sven-Goren Eriksson.

They then proceeded to purchase players whom they felt could improve the play of their home-grown players, often paying exorbitant amounts of cash.

Advertisement

While many of these players may have seemed past their prime in terms of ability, the hope was that they would pass along their knowledge of the game to their Chinese teammates and thus improve their play.

The results in the Chinese Super League were lacking, and their home-grown players failed to show improvement on the world stage. The Chinese squad sits in fifth place in the AFC group, behind teams such as Syria and Uzbekistan, and that’s about as disappointing as it gets.

AUSTRIA

Barely a year ago, Das Team was ranked tenth in the FIFA World Rankings. Manager Marcel Koller, appointed to the position in 2011, was considered somewhat of a genius for his ability to cobble together such a successful team without any world-renowned players.

Fast-forward to 2017, and Austria finds itself eliminated from advancing to World Cup competition after only eight games in a relatively weak group.

Advertisement

With the majority of their roster playing across the border in the Bundesliga, Austria certainly seemed to possess the talent to have been more successful within their group.

But after two more matches in October, Das Team’s players will be returning to their clubs, and one would think that Koller will be returning to his native Switzerland in search of his next job assignment.

 

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

World Cup

Floored twice in two months, South Africa tremble ahead of treble with Nigeria

Published

on

Sadiq Umar, Ndidi And Awoniyi Return To Super Eagles As NFF Secure Friendly Duel With Ghana And Mali In Morocco -

Exactly four months after they were bumped and relegated to the third-place match of the Africa Cup of Nations by the Super Eagles, South Africa’s Bafana Bafana are in jitters as they will come up against the three-time African champions again, in a crucial 2026 World Cup qualifying match in Uyo.

Only three days ago, the Super Falcons pushed the Banyana Banyana, reigning African champions, off the bus to this year’s Women’s Olympic Football Tournament, instead grabbing the ticket to make sure of a first appearance at the glamour tournament for the first time in 16 years.

The assured manner of Nigeria’s victories in the two fixtures have left the hierarchy of South African football flummoxed, and there is no adequate time to recover or rejig strategies before the Bafana Bafana come up against the Super Eagles in a Day 3 encounter of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying series at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo on Friday, 7th June.

With two points from their previous two matches, but aware of the hold they have over the Bafana Bafana, the African vice champions are confident of the three points on the day, which could see them fly to the top of the pool.

It was on 7th February at the Stade de la Paix, Bouake that the Super Eagles kicked Bafana to the third-place match of the 34th Africa Cup of Nations. Despite achieving parity late in the game, the Bafana were cut to size during the penalty shootout with Nigeria’s South Africa-based goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali saving two of the kicks by the Bafana.

Advertisement

South Africans’ boasts of bouncing the Super Falcons in the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament fixture in revenge, ended belly-up with the Banyana failing to score a goal in 180 minutes of action, with the two teams separated by Rasheedat Ajibade’s goal from the penalty spot in Abuja on Friday, 5th April.

Despite being a point ahead of the Super Eagles in their World Cup qualifying group, the Bafana will fall behind once they submit to the superior strength, skill and savvy of the Super Eagles on another Friday in June.

It can be recalled that when the two teams also met at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2019, at the quarter-final stage, Nigeria triumphed 2-1 in Cairo.

Players of the Super Eagles are already getting in the mood to deliver the big punches to Bafana in Uyo in a few weeks’ time. Only on Thursday night, top striker Victor Boniface returned from the injury that kept him out of the AFCON, by coming off the bench to score in Bayer Leverkusen’s Europa League quarter-final duel with West Ham of England.

African Player of the Year Victor Osimhen has also been unable to stop scoring for his Italian Serie A side, SC Napoli.

Advertisement

Goalkeeper Nwabali remains in awesome shape, and midfielder Alex Iwobi and Ademola Lookman shone brightly in the defeat of Ghana in a friendly in Morocco last month.

Continue Reading

Featured

Morocco To Launch World’s Biggest Stadium Ahead Of 2030 World Cup –

Published

on

Morocco To Launch World’s Biggest Stadium Ahead Of 2030 World Cup -

There is no end to aspirations. That is what Morocco is doing as they planned the world’s largest stadium as one of their package for the milestone 2030 World Cup which marks the 100th year of the tournament.

A British firm, Populous has reportedly won the  bid for the design of the what is called Morocco’s Grand Casablanca Stadium. It is being designed to hold 115,000 spectators in its bowel.

According to Populous in its website, the stadium derives its identity from the culture of the “season” in Morocco, as its structure is located under a large tent roof that appears as an exciting intervention in the forest landscape, noting that the stadium site extends over an area of 100 hectares in the city of Mansouria in the province of Benslimane (38 km north of Casablanca).

The British company explained that the stadium will be compatible with the FIFA standard. The company’s president, Francois Clément, said that the expected pace of construction “indicates the commitment of all parties concerned to deliver this project on time and within budget, and will constitute a rich asset for the Kingdom of Morocco, as well as raise it to the highest global platform for the development of sports infrastructure.”

The proposed stadium will compete with the Santiago Bernabeu and Camp Nou stadiums in Spain. Morocco is co-hosting the World Cup with Spain and Portugal Preparatory work has already begun to build the stadium on a 100-hectare site after funding for the project was approved last October.

Advertisement




According to the Morocco World News website, the budget for the new stadium project amounts to 5 billion Moroccan dirhams (460 million euros).

Continue Reading

World Cup

Japan Handed 3-0 Win After North Korea Call Off World Cup Qualifier –

Published

on

Japan Handed 3-0 Win After North Korea Call Off World Cup Qualifier -

Japan have been awarded a 3-0 victory after North Korea called off a World Cup qualifier between the sides that was scheduled to be held in Pyongyang earlier this month, Japan’s Football Association (JFA) said on Saturday.

The JFA said FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee had informed them that the match had been forfeited, which means Japan are guaranteed a top-two finish in their group which also includes Syria and Myanmar.

With 12 points after four games, Japan have qualified for the third round of World Cup qualifiers as well as the 2027 Asian Cup. Japan beaten North Korea 1-0 in another qualifying match in Tokyo this month.

“Although the players lost an important opportunity to play, I see this as a positive step forward,” Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu said in a statement.

“Naturally, we will not be satisfied with this result, but will continue to build up our strength for the national team activities in June, the final qualifying round, and the World Cup.”

Advertisement




North Korea, which has no formal diplomatic relations with Tokyo, decided not to stage the match in Pyongyang over worries about infectious diseases in Japan and had asked for the game to be moved to a neutral venue.

FIFA said the game would not be rescheduled due to the lack of dates on the fixture calendar.

-Reuters

 

 

Advertisement




 

Continue Reading

Most Viewed