Sports

Top 50 players to watch in Qatar 2022

Top 50 players to watch in Qatar 2022.

Saturday 1 October marks exactly 50 days before the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and with the help of FIFA.com here is a random top 50 players set to watch.

Edouard Mendy

Edouard Mendy

Position: Goalkeeper

Age: 30

Four years ago, Mendy was enhancing his growing reputation between the sticks for modest French club Reims. Since then, he has become one of the best goalkeepers on the planet.The Chelsea custodian enjoyed great success in 2021, lifting the Uefa Champions League and Uefa Super Cup, and his excellent performances, as well as his perseverance, tenacity and rigour, were rewarded with The Best Fifa Men’s Goalkeeper award in January. Equipped with an imposing frame, exceptional reach, and reassuring presence, Mendy has, in the space of just a few years, developed into one of Senegal’s key components.

Federico Valverde

Federico Valverde

Position: Midfielder

Age: 24

Few Uruguay players are in better form than Valverde, a hugely versatile midfielder who at the age of only 24 is making waves with Real Madrid and has become as irreplaceable for the Spanish giants as he is for his country.Capable of performing a number of different functions in different positions, even during the course of a match, Valverde is a tireless performer with a huge work rate and has added an attacking dimension to his game.He showed his box-to-box capabilities in the latest Madrid derby, scoring his side’s second in a 2-1 win, his fourth goal of the season to date.The kind of player every coach dreams of having, Valverde is Real Madrid’s third striker, fourth midfielder and fifth defender rolled into one. In addition to his ability to cover every blade of grass and his characteristic Uruguayan grit, he offers vision, an eye for goal and a gift for reading the game. “I said to him that if he doesn’t score more than ten goals, I’ll tear up my coaching badge,” said his club coach Carlo Ancelotti.Not the type to shout and scream, Valverde leads by example on and off the pitch. Though his name does not often come up when the topic of discussion is the greatest players in the game today, he deserves a place among them and will be vital to his country’s hopes in Qatar.

Mohammed Kudus

Mohammed Kudus

Position: Attacking midfielder

Age: 22

Just like Amartey, Mohammed Kudus also began his career in Denmark. He made 57 appearances for FC Nordsjaelland before moving to Ajax in the Eredivisie ahead of the 2021/21 season.Since then he and his team have won the Dutch championship in each of the past two seasons as well as becoming KNVB Cup champions in 2021.Kudus has also featured for Ajax in the Uefa Champions League and Uefa Europa League, most recently grabbing a goal and an assist against Rangers to earn himself both the player of the match award and a spot in the Champions League team of the week.While Kudus is often deployed as a super sub for Ajax and also occasionally features as a striker, his preferred position is attacking midfield, where he usually plays for Ghana.The 22-year-old has scored five goals in 16 international appearances to date and, unlike at Ajax, seems to be a permanent fixture in Addo’s starting line-up.His attacking instinct means he lends a resounding element of energy and unpredictability to Ghana’s play. As the Black Stars are likely to rely on counter-attacks time and time again at the World Cup, Kudus’s reliable passing and creativity will make him the perfect linchpin as his team switch from defence to attack.Despite his young age, he is not afraid to take responsibility on the pitch and has the potential to cause a stir in Qatar. It is not for nothing that he is often referred to as one of the brightest talents of his generation.

Youssef Msakni

Youssef Msakni

Position: Forward

Age: 31

Now back at Qatari club Al Duhail after a very brief stay in Europe, Msakni remains an integral part of the Tunisia set-up, having first caught the eye of former Carthage Eagles coach Faouzi Benzarti with his dribbling and shooting 12 years ago, when he was only 19.In and out of the side for various reasons, chief among them a string of injuries, Msakni has always proved his worth whenever returning to the national-team fold.Further proof of that came when he scored a quickfire brace after replacing Hannibal Mejbri at halftime in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Equatorial Guinea in June. An extremely versatile performer, Msakni can play at left-back, centre-forward, left wing and as an attacking midfielder.The forward has 17 goals to his name in 85 appearances for Tunisia. Qatar 2022 will be his first World Cup, after a serious ankle injury kept him out of Russia 2018.A further injury sustained on club duty before September’s national-team training camp had the fans worrying he might miss out on the big event for the second time running, which shows how much they are banking on him at Qatar 2022.

Sadio Mane

Sadio Mane

Position: Forward

Age: 30

Sadio Mane is seen as the most technically gifted player in the Senegal XI. Recently named African Footballer of the Year for the second time, the Bayern Munich attacker was part of the Liverpool team that reached the final of the Uefa Champions League in May.Boasting a top speed of 34.84 km per hour, which makes him one of the fastest forwards on the planet, the Sedhiou native is capable of explosive bursts of pace at key moments during crucial matches.Creative on and off the ball, he causes defences significant problems with his incisive and energetic approach. Astute in his positioning, Mane poses a considerable goal threat, irrespective of whether he has his back to goal or is facing it, or whether he receives the ball deep – a location from which he can attempt one of his trademark low shots into the corner of the net – or is looking to put a clinical finishing touch to a cross into the box.

Kylian Mbappe

PARIS – Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain

Position: Forward

Age: 23

The Bondy-born attacking ace enjoyed a sensational campaign last time out at Paris Saint-Germain, landing his fifth Ligue 1 title and becoming the first player in the division to top both the scoring and assist charts in the same season (28 and 17 respectively).The jet-heeled wonderkid has started the 2022/23 season in equally devastating fashion, notching four goals in as many games.A difference-maker on a consistent basis for Les Bleus since the 2018 showpiece in Russia, having hit 23 of his 27 international goals in the ensuing period, Mbappe is set to play a pivotal role in Deschamps’ side in Qatar.He has already earned 57 caps and seems certain to send all of the national-team records tumbling, including the all-time leading scorer tally, which is currently held by Thierry Henry (51 goals).It is well worth noting that, at the same age as Mbappe, the former Arsenal hotshot had found the net just eight times for his country.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United (Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

Position: Forward

Age: 37

“What else can you say? I think it’s all been said.”Those words, uttered by Fernando Santos after seeing Cristiano Ronaldo score twice in Portugal’s 4-0 defeat of Switzerland in June 2022, speak for themselves. When a living legend like CR7 is the topic of conversation, it can be hard to come up with anything original.Ronaldo went into his international career as the rising star of the future in a team led by the likes of Luis Figo and Rui Costa, the main men of the country’s so-called “golden generation”.He now finds himself the veteran in a team packed with players who are at, or about to reach, their peak.His ability to worry any defence remains intact, which is why Santos had him on the pitch for fully 810 minutes during the Qatar 2022 qualifiers, more than any other player in the side, this despite his age – only centre-half Pepe is older.Ronaldo’s list of honours includes practically every competition he has graced, including Uefa EURO 2016. All that is missing is a World Cup winners’ medal.“Winning with Portugal has always been my dream,” he said in an interview with Spanish sports daily AS. “I’ve won two titles, including the Nations League, and now I want the World Cup. I’ve lifted trophies with every club I’ve played for, but the World Cup is my big dream.”

Darwin Nunez

Darwin Nunez

Position: Striker

Age: 23

With Cavani and Suarez in the twilight of their careers, the emergence of Nunez has gone some way to answering doubts about the future of Uruguay’s front line. A Penarol youth product, Nunez spent time at Almeria in Spain before finding his place with Benfica in Portugal.His performances there led to Liverpool splashing out an initial €75m on the latest Celeste phenomenon, with the fee rising a potential €25m with add-ons.Physically strong, Nunez possesses a rare blend of abilities that make him a handful inside and outside the box. With his devastating turn of speed, he can create chances out of nothing and he has also has a gift for detecting and attacking space.A formidable opponent in open play, the Uruguayan tends to sit out on the left but can also take up position down the middle and play as a target man, which is where Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has been deploying him.

Denzel Dumfries

Denzel Dumfries

Position: Right-wing back

Age: 26

A Dutch kid playing international football before he was on the books of a pro football club sounds like something from a Hollywood script, right?A kid named after actor Denzel Washington made it reality. Dumfries made two appearances for Aruba as a 17-year-old in 2014, scoring a spectacular long-ranger against Guam.The uber-confident player swiftly informed the ABC Island nation he would not represent them in a competitive fixture, however, as he was certain he would one day wear orange in a World Cup.Months later he was watching a giant screen in an Amsterdam square as Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie – along with current internationals Daley Blind and Giorginio Wijnaldum – helped write Netherlands’ earth-shaking 5-1 victory over Spain at Brazil 2014. Now Dumfries is set to realise his own wild dream.The Rotterdammer’s maiden international expedition piqued the attention of Sparta Rotterdam, who whisked him from non-league Barendrecht.Eight years on and Dumfires can lay claim to having been one of the stars of Uefa EURO 2022, excelling for PSV and current club Inter Milan, interesting Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Real Madrid, and owning 35 Netherlands caps.“I’ve never seen a player with such high energy,” said former Oranje right-back Mario Melchiot. “He has a real spring on him, a winning mentality, he’s physical, and he’s great going forward.”

Awer Mabi

Position: Winger

Age: 26

Mabil’s mere presence at this World Cup is inspiring. This, after all, is a young man who was born in a Kenyan refugee camp after his parents fled conflict in Sudan, and who survived as a child on one meal a day, playing barefoot with a rolled-up sock as his football.The skills learned in those awful conditions shone brightly when Australia took in Mabil’s family in 2006. His rise since has been the stuff of fairy tales, and the connection to his adopted country was reaffirmed when he slotted home the sixth penalty in the shootout win over Peru that secured the Socceroos’ World Cup spot. “I knew I was going to score,” Mabil said afterwards. “It was the only way to say thank you to Australia on behalf of my family.”This talented, elusive winger has contributed a great deal more than that coolly dispatched penalty since making an emotional debut in 2018. Now playing in LaLiga with Cadiz after a successful seven-year stint with Danish side Midtjylland, he will be one of the players relied upon to provide the attacking inspiration that Arnold’s team will need against some of the world’s top sides.

Guillermo Ochoa

Position: Goalkeeper

Age: 37

A Mexico and World Cup legend, Ochoa has always delivered for his country on the big stage, regardless of how he has performed at club level.With a long-term replacement yet to emerge, he remains a reliable performer and a formidable last line of defence. Some of the many saves he has made over the years have gone down in tournament history and have been ranked right up there with the miraculous stop Gordon Banks made to deny Pele at Mexico 1970.His country’s undisputed first choice, Ochoa will be making his fifth world-finals appearance at Qatar 2022. Currently with Mexican club America, the keeper is on the point of making another return to European football.An unmistakable figure between the posts thanks to his trademark curls, Ochoa has been a calming voice of experience for El Tri over the last decade and the bane of many an opposition forward thanks to his quick reflexes.

Ivan Perisic

Position: Winger/Wingback

Age: 33

This list of Croatian heavyweights wouldn’t be complete without Ivan Perisic. At the last World Cup the attacking wideman, who moved from Inter Milan to Tottenham during the summer, was pivotal in several matches for the Vatreni, with a strike against Iceland in the last group match, an equaliser and an assist in the semifinal win over England, followed by another goal to cancel out France’s opener in the deciding match.Croatia supremo Dalic will depend heavily on the attacking merits of Perisic, who is likely to be one of the first names on the team sheet.He is also another leader who can lift the team right from the early stages, just as he did at the last Uefa European Championship, when he netted twice in the group round, and in qualification for Qatar, contributing three strikes.For Perisic, there is no greater motivation than pulling on the chequered jersey of Croatia: “It means a lot to me,” the winger previously told Fifa.com. “I started playing football when I was six years old and always dreamed of playing for the national team and for big clubs. Both dreams have come true. I’ve done everything I could to become the player I am today. I always try to give my best when I’m wearing my country’s shirt.”This lifelong devotion to Croatia’s colours and hunger to perform on the biggest stage are another two reasons why Perisic will be one to watch in Qatar.

Andre Ayew

Andre Ayew

Position: Left winger or forward

Age: 32

Having played 107 internationals, Ghana’s captain is on the brink of replacing Asamoah Gyan (109 appearances) as their most-capped player, while the 23 goals netted by the son of Abedi Pele have already earned him a place among his homeland’s top five goalscorers.The fact that Ayew became a Fifa U-20 World Cup™ winner and African champion with Ghana in 2009 speaks for itself and reflects his significance within the national team. Together with younger brother Jordan (81 caps, 19 goals), who is also a key member of the side, the top scorer at the 2014/15 Africa Cup of Nations should bring years of international experience to the Black Stars’ attack and contribute a few goals along the way.Ayew has spent much of his career in France and England, winning two French League Cups and three Super Cups with Marseille between 2010 and 2012, and making a total of 182 appearances in Ligue 1.After moving to England he played 89 Premier League games and 87 Championship matches for Swansea City and West Ham United.He has been playing for Qatari club Al Sadd since last season, winning the championship title at the first attempt, which means he should be well used to life in the host nation by the time the World Cup kicks off.It should also enable him to give the younger players in the squad a helping hand, with plenty of knowledge and experience to share after dazzling on football’s greatest international stage from a young age.He finished South Africa 2010 as runner-up to Best Young Player recipient Thomas Muller, and scored two goals at the next tournament in Brazil four years later.

Andre Onana

Position:Goalkeeper

Age: 26

Inter Milan’s Andre Onana is the latest in a long line of proficient Cameroon custodians, such as Thomas Nkono, Joseph Antoine Bell and Carlos Kameni. With an imposing height that enables him to effectively challenge opposing forwards, the Samuel Eto’o Foundation graduate is excellent in the air and boasts cat-like reflexes and anticipation.A reliable shot-stopper, Onana is equally adept at distribution, and his goal kicks and throws often serve to relaunch attacks. To round off his skillset, the African ’keeper is also capable of putting in a well-timed tackle outside his box when the need arises, as he demonstrated during the Cup of Nations semifinal between Cameroon and Egypt earlier this year.

Ferran Torres

Position: Forward

Age: 22

An injury picked up on Nations League duty saw Torres ruled out of the decisive World Cup qualifiers against Greece and Sweden last November, having already made a significant contribution to the campaign. La Roja’s leading scorer of the Luis Enrique era and the side’s top marksman in the Qatar 2022 qualifying competition with four goals, Torres is a key part of the Spain attack.A versatile performer who can occupy a number of different positions, Torres has no problem switching roles during the course of a game. Though yet to hit his best form for Barcelona since his move from Manchester City, his ability to create space and find the back of the net are crucial for a Spain side yet to decide on its No 9 at Qatar 2022. Torres is at his best wide on the right, thanks to his knack for slipping past defenders and getting to the byline and for cutting in and finding the target.

Yassine Bounou

Position: Goalkeeper

Age: 31

The current holder of the Zamora Trophy, bestowed on the goalkeeper with the lowest goals-to-games ratio in the Spanish top flight, the Sevilla man beat off some stern competition from the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Jan Oblak and Marc-Andre ter Stegen to land the coveted award.The Montreal-born goalie earned his first cap in 2013, when Rachid Taoussi was at the helm, after opting to represent the country of his ancestry despite the overtures of the decision-makers at the Canadian Soccer Association. Since his first taste of World Cup action in 2018, he has established himself as a mainstay between the sticks.At 31, and despite having endured a tough start to the season, both domestically and in the Uefa Champions League, Bounou will be expected to lead from the back in the quest to stifle the considerable attacking talents of Morocco’s illustrious first-phase opponents.Despite this being the first time that Bounou heads into the World Cup as the Atlas Lions’ undisputed first-choice goalkeeper, he has chalked up 43 caps across all competitions.He has conceded just 22 goals for the national team and has registered 26 clean sheets. Meanwhile, he has shown his worth in the Spanish top tier, recording an average of 2.5 saves per game – a 76 per cent save success rate.

Christian Eriksen

Position: Midfielder

Age: 30

For five horrendous minutes last June, Christian Eriksen was – in his own words – “gone from this world”. At that stage, anything beyond his survival would have seemed like too much to hope and pray for.Yet Eriksen was back playing Premier League football within nine months and, in March – 287 days after his cardiac arrest – he made his international comeback, scoring inside two minutes of entering the field.Fast forward another few months and the midfielder has swapped Brentford for Manchester United, and is once again pulling the midfield strings for both club and country.It is, beyond dispute, already the stuff of football fairy tales. And if another fantastic chapter is to be added in Qatar, Denmark are sure to need their star playmaker to help write it.

Lionel Messi

Position: Forward

Age:35

The World Cup is the one major trophy the Argentinian has never had his hands on. Seven years after coming up just short at Brazil 2014, the legendary Messi gained a significant measure of consolation by winning the Copa America, his first title with the senior national team.La Pulga (‘The Flea’) will now go in search of the biggest title of them all as the icon of a rejuvenated side and still one of the best players in the world, despite the passage of time and the fact he is now midway through his 30s.Though he might lack the pace and stamina he once had, Messi has modified his game and remains a matchwinner thanks in great part to his ageless left foot.Scaloni has come up with a system that frees him of all responsibility bar the need to create, a role he fulfils as his side’s main provider and most decisive player.Argentina was struggling against IR Iran in 2014, until Lionel Messi decided to take matters into his own hands.Not everything revolves around him, however. Profitable new partnerships and understandings have been forged, relieving the Paris Saint-Germain man of some of the creative burden and of the need to take part in every single move.Argentina will arrive in Qatar with their least ‘Messi-dependent’ side since he made his international debut in August 2005, though they can take comfort from the fact that their eternal superhero is a ready as ever to don his cape and come to the rescue.

Harry Kane

Harry Kane

Position: Striker

Age: 29

England’s captain remains the first name on Southgate’s team sheet, and for good reason. One of the world’s foremost No 9s, Kane has already scored more goals in competitive matches and major tournaments than any player in England’s history, and is closing in fast on Wayne Rooney’s overall record of 53.Having fired his way to the adidas Golden Boot at Russia 2018, the Spurs star is the bookies’ favourite to top the tournament’s scoring chart once again in Qatar. Although no-one in the history of the World Cup has ever managed that in separate editions, few would put it past the Three Lions’ sharpshooting skipper.

Daniel Kweku Korsah

Daniel Kweku Korsah is a young Tutor, Website designer, and blogger. Who has the passion and skills for developing and helping young individuals to learn the right way for succeeding online.

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