Qatar 2022: An Injury-Hit World Cup

It is less than a couple of weeks to the biggest football showpiece on earth but the Qatar World Cup is fast developing a name as one where several top footballers will be absent because of injuries they have picked up in recent times. And we are talking of top names who were expected to represent their countries, having played and helped them qualify for the tournament.

Some of these players have never been to a World Cup while others are late risers who considered this their last opportunity to climb the world stage. Fans, on their part, are looking forward to seeing their club stars on stage for their national teams.

Many of such stars whose countries did not qualify for the World Cup, will be missing in action as far as their followers are concerned. But at least, those whose countries qualified should feature and shine on a stage different from their usual weekly performances in their leagues all over the world. But with the spate of injuries, this may not be the case.

So, what is responsible for these injuries?

World Cup 2022 is taking place in Qatar; but unlike most World Cups, it will not be held during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer. This is because the climate in Qatar is too extreme during that time of year. As such, it will take place from November 20 to December 18.

So, it is good to note from the onset that Qatar 2022 is taking place outside the usual football calendar when such meets hold at the end of the season, at least in Europe. Weather issues meant the Arab nation’s hosting had to be pushed to a time of the year that the heat is not as much as it would have been in summer. But this means that football seasons everywhere are in the thick of things and players have just got into the heat of it all, trying to be regulars in their teams, before the tournament.

With just one league or cup match to play in most leagues in Europe and elsewhere before the World Cup begins, there have been news headlines about the stars that will be missing in action. Just get a load of these names from different countries:

For defending World Cup Champions France, Coach Didier Deschamps is almost in tears due to a very long injury list headed by big Chelsea star N’Golo Kante who had surgery on his long-standing hamstring. Paul Pogba of Juventus is also out as he recovers from knee surgery. Injury has also sidelined Chelsea defender Wesley Fofana, Lucas Hernandez of Bayern Munich, Boubacar Kamara of Aston Villa, and Manchester United’s defender Raphael Varane.

Brazil has already named their squad and it surprisingly includes Tottenham Hotspurs’ striker Richarlison who has been on the injury table with a calf injury but it looks like his recovery has been spectacular. But it is not as if Brazil is lacking in attackers because their depth in that area is quite massive.

Portugal also has its own long list and it includes Diogo Jota, the Liverpool forward who was injured during the match against Manchester United on 18th October. The same fate affects Pedro Neto of Wolverhampton Wanderers, veteran defender Pepe of Porto and Nuno Mendes could also be missing.

 In England, Chelsea’s right back Reece James picked up a knee injury against AC Milan and is a major doubt for the tournament, even with the team yet to be announced. Same goes for Manchester City’s Kyle Walker who had to undergo groin surgery recently. Club mate Kalvin Phillips is also a major doubt after a dislocated shoulder suffered in September and Kyle Walker-Peters of Southampton who is set to be out until the end of the year with a hamstring injury sustained late October. Ben Chilwell, the Chelsea left-back also suffered a hamstring injury in his team’s Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb. There are others from the Premiership representing other countries other than England.

 The Welsh team has been sweating over the form of their captain, Gareth Bale after not playing much for his Major League Soccer side Los Angeles FC.

Compatriot Tom Lawrence of Glasgow Rangers has also aggravated a knee injury that could sideline him until December. Veteran midfielder Joe Allen has not played for his Championship side Swansea for over one month with a hamstring problem and the coach is still in doubt.

Germany is not left out. Timo Werner, the German forward injured his ankle ligaments during team RB Leipzig’s Champions League clash against Shakhtar Donetsk last week. Marco Reus, the 33-year-old Borussia Dortmund skipper damaged ankle ligaments in September. It’s not sure ifLeroySane, the 26-year-old will make the tournament yet, after tearing his left thigh muscle during Bayern Munich’s win over Freiburg. One conspicuous absence from Germany and Bayern’s team lately has been goalkeeper Manuel Neuer who has had a shoulder injury for a coupe of months and it will be a big miss if he does not get better.

 Roma’s 31-year-old Georginio Wijnaldum of The Netherlands has a fractured leg.

Argentina is also set to be without Roma’s Paulo Dybala and Angel Di Maria of Juventus while the United States may have to cope without Daryl Dike of West Bromwich Albion and Miles Robinson of Atlanta United.

 Raul Jimenez, the Wolves and Mexico forward has not played since a groin injury in August and South Korea’s Son Heung-min of Tottenham has recently had surgery to a fracture around his left eye, an injury he suffered during his side’s final Champions League group match against Marseille this month.

Other countries like Croatia, Uruguay, Poland, Canada and Morocco have players on the treatment table with the hope they will be available and have delayed naming their final list of players till the last couple of days to FIFA’s deadline.

However, in spite of the absentees, there is no doubt that fans will still be treated to top class football entertainment from other favourite stars like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Harry Kane, Kevin De Bruyne, Saka, Sadio Mane, and other Africa colleagues representing Ghana, Senegal, Tunisia, Cameroon and Morocco.

We hope none of these players get injured before Qatar 2022 opens on 20th November.

The 2022 World Cup will see 32 nations do battle. It is no news then that soccer stars from countries that did not qualify will not be there. Such countries include Italy, Russia (banned), Hungary, Norway, Slovakia, Romania, Republic of Ireland, Paraguay, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Algeria and Nigeria.


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