World Cup team-by-team guide ahead the 2022 tournament in Qatar | Daily Mail Online

2022-06-25 00:24:23 By : Mr. Tony Peng

By Max Winters and Kieran Jackson and Matt Davies For Mailonline

Published: 05:49 EDT, 24 May 2022 | Updated: 19:08 EDT, 14 June 2022

The domestic season has come to an end and by the time the 2022/23 campaign begins the 2022 World Cup will be right around the corner. 

The first-ever winter edition of the tournament gets underway on November 21, interrupting the domestic campaign to do so, with the final taking place under a month later on December 18.  

The group stage draw has come and gone, with eight sets of four teams set to compete in Qatar in the final time we'll see a 32-team format at the World Cup, with a 48-team format set to be introduced in 2026.   

And here, Sportsmail runs the rule over all 32 teams as the competition edges closer.

France won the 2018 World Cup but will they be able to make it back-to-back triumphs?

Felix Sanchez  - Born in Spain, Sanchez began his career as a coach within the youth system at Barcelona. He has been in charged since 2017 and oversaw their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

But in 2019 he led them to the AFC Asian Cup title for the first time in the country's history and has taken them to various other international tournaments - like the 2019 Copa America and 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Neither ended well for Qatar but the chance to play strong teams has boosted their progress 

Akram Afif - Among a squad of unheralded names who mostly play their football on home soil, Afif stands out as their top talent

A winger who can play up front, Afif left for Belgian side Eupen in 2015 before becoming the first Qatari-born signing in LaLiga history when he moved to Villarreal in 2016. It didn't work out in Spain, however, and he's back in Qatar with Al Sadd.

Still only 25, Afif has 75 goals and 62 assists in 118 games for Al Sadd and will be their most dangerous threat as they look to shine on home soil in November. 

One of the perks of hosting the World Cup is that your qualification is guaranteed. A down side to that though is a lack of real competitive football in the build-up to the tournament.

Yes they have been invited to tournaments but losing to Argentina, Colombia and Brazil in the Copa America is hardly ideal preparations. This month's international window brought a win over Bulgaria and a draw with Slovenia so maybe they are starting to show some form at the right time.

Chance of winning the trophy - 1/5

Qatar take part in their first World Cup, having automatically qualified as tournament hosts

Gustavo Alfaro - The Argentine took over the reigns of the Ecuador national team in 2020, guiding Ecuador to an unlikely fourth spot in the South American qualification standings and thus an automatic spot at Qatar 2022. 

The 59-year-old has the likes of Boca Juniors, Tigre and Al-Ahli on his managerial CV and will be tasked with guiding Ecuador at their first World Cup finals since 2014. 

Enner Valencia - The former West Ham man is his country's most experienced forward and has a supreme goalscoring record, notching 35 goals in 70 appearances. 

Now playing at Fenerbahce, Valencia scored four goals through qualification, while team-mate Michael Estrada of D.C. United scored six goals.  

Things looked bleak early on after losing their first two games, but big wins away in Chile, at home to Paraguay and home draws to Argentina and Brazil saw Ecuador sneak into fourth spot ahead of Peru in fifth, and the likes of Colombia, Chile and Paraguay.  

Chance of winning the trophy - 1/5

Ecuador were unfancied heading into South America qualifying but sealed an automatic spot 

Aliou Cisse - The former Birmingham and Portsmouth man has been in charge of his national team since 2015 and it's been an emotional rollercoaster under enormous pressure to return Senegal to the heights of the 2002 team, who reached the World Cup quarter-finals.

They didn't make it out of the group stage in Russia in 2018 and were then beaten finalists in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. There was finally cause for celebration earlier this year when Senegal lifted their first-ever Africa Cup of Nations. Now Cisse is targeting improvement on the global stage.  

Sadio Mane - The Liverpool man has stepped up and delivered in the last two decisive moments Senegal have found themselves in, taking down team-mate Mohamed Salah in the process.

Mane scored the winning penalty in the Africa Cup of Nations final and netted another decisive spot kick to dump Egypt out of World Cup qualifying and seal Senegal's place in Qatar. He brings the stardust to an impressive Senegal team. 

African qualification for the World Cup is notoriously hard but Senegal made it through. The 10 winners of the groups in the initial stage were paired in five, two-legged knockout ties with Senegal drawing Egypt. 

After Senegal wiped out Egypt's 1-0 lead from the first leg, the tie inevitably went to penalties with Mane slamming home the crucial spot kick to prompt ugly scenes within the stands in Dakar. 

Chance of winning the trophy - 2/5

Sadio Mane led Senegal to victory at AFCON and is now targeting glory on the world stage 

Louis van Gaal -  Like a moth to a flame, the temptation of leading Holland out at another major tournament was just too good to turn down for Van Gaal, who in August came out of retirement five years after being sacked by Man United.

In a rollercoaster few days, Van Gaal recently described the World Cup being staged in Qatar as 'bulls***', publicly slapped down Virgil van Dijk over tactics and told Ajax coach Erik ten Hag to avoid Old Trafford like the plague.

He's got them winning again, which is the most important thing, and will be hoping to build on the promising signs the Dutch showed at Euro 2020. 

Virgil van Dijk - Holland were impressive at Euro 2020 and swept all before them in the group stage before the dejection of being knocked out by Czech Republic in the last 16. But, like Liverpool, they are a much better team with Van Dijk in defence.

The 30-year-old has been immense for Jurgen Klopp and his displays have been so good that you'd think he didn't even suffer a season-ending knee injury back in October 2020. Now he's back, the Dutch have that fear factor and protect that only Van Dijk brings.

Holland actually had one of the trickier qualifying groups to deal with after being paired with Erling Haaland's Norway and a Turkey side who are competent, even though they were abysmal at Euro 2020.

But the Dutch won seven of their 10 matches, losing just once to Turkey in the first game, and finished top of the table by two points. They did need two goals in the final 10 minutes to beat Norway to seal their place in Qatar, though. 

Chance of winning the trophy - 3/5

Holland are back in their first World Cup since 2014 and have an elite leadership duo

Gareth Southgate - He still doesn't get the credit he deserves for taking England from tournament flops to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and to the brink of glory on home soil at Euro 2020.

With greater success comes bigger expectations though and if England fail to reach at least the semi-finals in Qatar then questions will come over whether Southgate is good enough to take England all the way. 

Harry Kane - England will not win the World Cup if Harry Kane is not scoring goals and playing well. It's as simple as that. He is the Three Lions' talisman and the golden boot winner from Russia in 2018.

The captain has shown much improved form for Tottenham in recent weeks as is recovering his reputation as one of the world's most feared forwards. The England captain is the first name on the team sheet for Southgate and could even be the country's record scorer by the time the World Cup arrives later this year.

As has been the case throughout Southgate's tenure, England breezed through qualifying without a care in the world and racked up eight wins and two draws in their 10 matches.

They scored 39 goals and conceded just three, sweeping aside Poland, Albania, Hungary, Andorra and San Marino. Not the toughest opposition, granted, but the 10-0 win over San Marino in November was the first time England hit double figures since 1964.

Chance of winning the trophy - 5/5

Semi-finals in 2018, final in 2021 - can Harry Kane and England go one step further in Qatar? 

Dragan Skocic  - The Croatian coach was appointed in February 2020 as a replacement for former Belgium manager Marc Wilmots and has guided Iran through qualifying and to their sixth World Cup appearances.

Skocic has great experience of the Iranian football system, having worked with domestic clubs  Malavana and Foolad. He has a sublime track record so far, winning 15 of the 17 games he has overseen as manager.

Sardar Azmoun - Azmoun was once a target for Liverpool in the Brendan Rodgers era at Anfield after impressing in Russia. A move to Anfield never materialised though and instead he stayed and joined Zenit St Petersburg, scoring 62 goals in 104 games.

His big move came in January when German side Bayer Leverkusen opted to bring forward his arrival to the Bundesliga from this summer. The 27-year-old is yet to find the back of the net for his new club but his speed and pressing will be a problem for teams in Qatar.

After working their way through the deep qualifying pool in Asia, Iran finished top of the AFC's third round - a round robin system featuring the seven group winners and five best runners-up.

Iran won their group with eight wins from 10 matches, beating Son Heung-min and South Korea to top spot. 

Chance of winning the trophy - 1/5

Iran won their group with eight wins from 10 matches, beating South Korea to top spot

Gregg Berhalter - Berhalter was handpicked to take over as US coach back in 2018 when he was plucked from MLS franchise Columbus Crew as part of a huge reset following a shambolic 2-1 defeat by Trinidad and Tobago that saw them miss out.

After an uninspiring first year in charge, Berhalter has managed to make the most of the promising crop of American talent springing up across Europe and get a tune out of them. A former defender, the 48-year-old represented the US at two World Cups - 2002 and 2006. 

Christian Pulisic - The Chelsea winger has been the poster boy for American football for a number of years and had to put up with team-mates that simply just weren't as good as him.

But now he has some back-up in the form of Tyler Adams, Giovanni Reyna, Ricardo Pepi, Sergino Dest and Weston McKennie. With a hat-trick against Panama earlier this week, Pulisic proved he will be their biggest threat in Qatar.

It was nerve-shredding but the US sealed their place at Qatar this week by claiming the third and final automatic space in North America behind Canada and Mexico, despite losing to Costa Rica in their final match.

Their place was all but sealed before the game after beating Panama earlier in the week but still, a 2-0 loss to Costa Rica is not exactly how you want to celebrate a World Cup return. 

Chance of winning the trophy - 1/5

Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic will be the United States' key attacking player in Qatar 

Rob Page   - Page has been doing the Wales job as caretaker since Ryan Giggs stepped aside following his arrest on assault charges in November 2020. Allegations which he denies.

It was reported in The Athletic in April that the Welsh FA were awaiting the outcome of Gigg's August court case before making a decision, but Page - after guiding Wales to a first World Cup since 1958 - has since made clear he would be leading the Welsh team to the Finals. 

Gareth Bale - Does the question even need to be asked? Bale is undoubtedly the best of Wales' golden generation, and almost certainly the best Welsh player of all time, having recently added a fifth Champions League trophy to his collection. 

The 32-year-old was contemplating retirement before Wales secured their place in the competition - which the forward played an instrumental role in - but has since revealed those thoughts are now on hold. Put simply, if Wales are to go deep at this winter's tournament, they'll need Bale at his best. 

Wales enjoyed a solid qualifying campaign, losing just one of eight games throughout. They were soundly beaten to top spot by Belgium, however, meaning they had to go through the European Play-Offs. 

They played their semi-final all the way back in March, with a stunning Bale double sealing a 2-1 victory over Austria. 

They were made to wait for the final, though, with the clash between Ukraine and Scotland pushed back until June due to the ongoing Russian invasion of the former. It was Ukraine who emerged victorious, but it was Wales who won the final 1-0.  

Chances of winning the trophy - 2/5 

Talisman Gareth Bale played a vital role as Wales qualified for a first World Cup since 1958 

Lionel Scaloni - Parachuted into the job after Jorge Sampaoli failed to get Argentina beyond the last-16 at the 2018 World Cup and burned any sort of goodwill he had with his players, Scaloni has turned Argentina into a force again.

For years they were billed as Lionel Messi + 10 but, after lifting the Copa America last year, Argentina have some pedigree coming into a tournament and with Cristian Romero, Rodrigo De Paul, Lautaro Martínez among others as the support cast.

Lionel Messi - An underwhelming first season at PSG has hinted his powers are waning but Messi is still capable of genius and he is the undisputed leader of this team.

Realistically, at 34, this could be Messi's swansong with Argentina on the international stage so expect him to do all he can to win that trophy that continues to elude his illustrious career.  

Seamlessly. Unbeaten in their 17 matches played, Argentina won 11 and drew six to claim 39 points and finish second to Brazil. Home draws with Paraguay and Chile were the only real blips but they're in Qatar nonetheless. 

Their 18th game - against Brazil - was suspended back in September when health officials ran on to the pitch to stop Argentina's England-based players from playing, saying they had breached the country's COVID-19 quarantine rules. It must be replayed but both are qualified though and their positions in the table finalised. 

Chance of winning the trophy - 3/5

Lionel Messi, pictured after losing the 2014 World Cup final, will have one last chance at glory

Herve Renard - The Frenchman - who has previously coached Morocco, Lille and Ivory Coast - took over in 2019 as the Saudis looked to qualify for their second consecutive World Cup. 

Salem Al-Dawsari - In a squad who all play their domestic football in Saudi Arabia, left-winger Al-Dawsari did have a stint at Villarreal back in 2018, making one appearance. 

With 64 caps to his name since his debut in 2011, he featured prominently in Russia and scored a late winner against Egypt in their final group game.  

Credit to the Saudi squad, who qualified automatically from an Asian group which included Japan, Australia, Oman, China and Vietnam. 

They beat Japan and Australia 1-0 at home, while also drawing in Sydney. They finished top of the group.  

Chance of winning the trophy - 1/5

Saudi Arabia beat Japan and Australia at home to qualify for the Middle-East World Cup 

Gerardo Martino - The 59-year-old has been in charge of Mexico since 2019 and his tenure has largely been defined by results against the United States. Mexico won the Gold Cup in 2019 but then lost the same tournament and CONCACAF Nations League final to the Americans in 2021.

In July 2013, Martino was chosen as the successor to Tito Villanova at Barcelona after carving out a strong reputation within South America. But he lasted just a year at the Nou Camp with Barcelona second in LaLiga and runners-up in the Copa del Rey.

Raul Jimenez - Like he is at club level with Wolves, Jimenez is the focal point of the Mexican attack and is a guaranteed starter in Qatar if he's fit. With 29 goals in 92 caps, Jimenez's latest strike was the one that sealed Mexico's qualification on Wednesday night.

Jimenez has managed just six goals in 30 appearances for Wolves and is still working his way back to top form after that sickening head injury he suffered last season. His country will be hoping he's in red-hot form in November. 

Mexico went into the final round of CONCACAF qualifiers knowing that just a point against El Salvador would be enough to seal one of the three North America spots that guaranteed a place in Qatar.

Jimenez's penalty followed Uriel Antuna's opening goal as the Mexicans ran out 2-0 winners at the Azteca. It saw them finish second in the standings behind Canada, with old foes America rounding off the top three.

Chance of winning the trophy - 2/5

Raul Jimenez's latest strike for Mexico sealed their qualification - they are placed in pot two

Czeslaw Michniewicz - Poland named former Legia Warsaw coach Michniewicz as their new manager in January after parting ways with Portugal's Paulo Sousa - who asked to be relieved of his duties so he could join Brazilian club Flamengo. 

Michniewicz managed nine Polish clubs before he was named the Poland Under-21 coach in 2017. He helped them qualify for the 2019 European Under-21 Championship, becoming the first manager to do so in 25 years.

Michniewicz left the national team duty in 2020 to take over Polish top-flight club Legia, guiding them to a record 15th Polish championship title in 2021 and the group stage of the Europa League.

Robert Lewandowski - Who else? The Bayern striker is the world's deadliest striker and continues to find the back of the net with frightening consistency. With 45 goals in 37 games at club level so far, it has been another ridiculous season for the striker after he scored 48 in 40 last campaign.

He also proves himself to be Poland's hero on the international stage time and time again. Even this week he scored a penalty in their 2-0 playoff victory over Sweden and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to book a spot at the event in Qatar.

Poland won six and drew two of their 10 qualifying matches but were second best to an unbeatable England side, who ran away with the group with ease. Second place meant Poland dropped down to the playoff route.

But with Russia kicked out of qualifying for their invasion of Ukraine, Poland were handed a bye through the first playoff round and that meant a final with Sweden for place in Qatar. Poland ran out 2-0 winners in Chorzow.

Chance of winning the trophy - 1/5

Robert Lewandowski and Poland beat Sweden in a play-off to qualify for the 2022 World Cup 

Didier Deschamps - The 53-year-old has seen it all in international management having been in charge of Les Bleus since 2012. He has scaled the heights of World Cup glory before and will be confident of defending their title with a squad littered with stars at his disposal.

France went into Euro 2020 as world champions but Deschamps and his tactics came in for huge criticism when they were stunned by Switzerland on penalties in the last 16. He managed to keep his job but you'd think it will be curtains if they don't reach at least the semi-finals in Qatar.  

Kylian Mbappe - If there was any doubt then Mbappe has proven himself to the main man for France in recent months. His stunning first goal against South Africa in midweek shows the confidence running through his veins.

The PSG star also loves a major tournament and has chalked up four goals and three assists in 11 tournament appearances. It is also a boost for Mbappe to have Karim Benzema supporting him in attack, as he did at Euro 2020.

France were comfortable qualifiers in the end but they didn't have it all their own way. The finished top of their group unbeaten, with 18 points after five wins and three draws.

But Ukraine were only six points behind in second place and they claimed two impressive draws in their pair of games with the French. Deschamps' side also drew at home with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Chance of winning the trophy - 5/5

France will have PSG star Kylian Mbappe in their ranks as they look to defend their crown 

Kasper Hjulmand - It felt like the Danes' inspirational coach became the unofficial leader of the country last year when Christian Eriksen suffered his shocking cardiac arrest in their Euro 2020 clash with Finland.

Hjulmand led with such authority and strength during that horrific period and then had the ability to dust his team down and lead them to the semi-finals on a wave of emotion - where they lost to England by a controversial penalty.  

Hjulmand's playing career ended when he was just 26 after nine knee operations but he was soon making a name for himself on the touchline and now he's wanted by a string of top clubs around Europe.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg - It would have been easy to say Christian Eriksen, given the way he has recovered from that awful day last summer and is back playing and scoring in the Premier League and for his national team.

But, like at Tottenham, Hojbjerg is the understated star of the Danish team and does the dirty, gruelling work in midfield that allows the more creative players around him to flourish.

Denmark were run close by Scotland in Group F but always had Steve Clarke's side at arm's length and secured top spot with nine wins from 10, 30 goals scored and just three conceded.

Their qualifying campaign included an 8-0 demolition of Moldova in Herning while a 4-0 win away in Austria was the pick of their results. Scotland got the better of them at Hampden in November, but that was the only blip.

Chance of winning the trophy - 2/5

Should he be picked, Christian Eriksen's remarkable return will be a great World Cup story

Jalel Kadri - Tunisia currently have a temporary coach in charge of the national team, with Mondher Kebaier replaced after the Africa Cup of Nations a few months ago as he battled with Covid-19. 

Kadri - who was Kebaier's assistant manager - is Tunisia's fourth coach since Nabil Maaloul was in charge at the 2018 World Cup, when they of course lost to England in the dying stages of their opening group game.  

Ellyes Skhiri - The Cologne midfielder was named Tunisian Footballer of the Year in 2021 and has made 45 caps since making his debut in 2018, scoring three goals. 

Also watch out for former Sunderland forward Wahbi Khazri - currently at Saint-Etienne - and Manchester United youngster Hannibal Mejbri, who has already made 12 caps at the age of 19. 

Having finished top of Group B in the second round of African qualifying, two points clear of Equatorial Guinea, Tunisia faced Mali in a two-legged play-off in the past week for a place in Qatar. 

Having won the first-leg in Mali 1-0 courtesy of an own-goal by Moussa Sissako, a goalless draw in Tunis was enough for unfancied Tunisia to qualify for a second-consecutive World Cup.  

Chance of winning the trophy - 1/5

Tunisia secured their passage to a second-consecutive World Cup with a play-off win vs Mali 

Graham Arnold  - A stalwart of the Australian game, the former Sydney FC coach returned for a second stint in the top job in March 2018, having led the national team for a year after Guus Hiddink stepped down following the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

He succeeded Dutchman Bert van Marwijk, who took the reins for the 2018 World Cup in Russia as part of a short-term deal struck in the wake of Ange Postecoglou's shock resignation after securing the team's qualification.

Replaced as head coach by another Dutchman in Pim Verbeek in 2007, Arnold remained on board as an assistant through Australia's next World Cup qualification phase and their appearance at the 2010 finals in South Africa.

Arnold, who scored 19 goals in 56 appearances for the Socceroos in the 1980s and 90s, then kicked off a hugely successful coaching career at club level, turning the underdog Central Coast Mariners into A-League champions in 2012-13.

He became the league's first coach to claim championships at different clubs when he led Sydney to their third title last year after winning a record number of games during the regular season.

Mathew Ryan  - It is not very often a goalkeeper has the title of being a nation's best player but Ryan's influence on the Socceroos is enormous.

Crucially he has played at both the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, so knows the sort of pressure and challenges that his team-mates will be facing in Qatar later this year.

Ryan is his nation's captain and one of few players in the squad to play at the Premier League level. He made over 100 appearances for Brighton in four years at the Amex before joining Arsenal briefly on loan.

The 30-year-old, who played 90 minutes in every qualifier except two, is now at Real Sociedad in Spain, operating as their No 2 goalkeeper behind Alex Remiro. 

Entering the Asian Football Confederation qualifying at the second round, Australia coasted through that stage. They won all eight of their group matches, seeing off Kuwait, Jordan, Nepal and Chinese Taipei.

However, they were unable to maintain that form in the third round of qualifying and finished third in their group behind Saudi Arabia and Japan. From their 10 group games, Australia picked up 15 points.

That meant they had to enter the nerve-shredding inter-confederation play-offs where they played third place in the other group, the United Arab Emirates.

A 2-1 win over the UAE earlier this month took them to within 90 minutes of a World Cup spot. All they had to do was beat Peru. 

Goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne was the Socceroos' hero, saving Alex Valera's spot-kick to clinch a 5-4 victory for his side after being introduced as a substitute at the end of a goalless 120 minutes in Al Rayyan.

Australia's Martin Boyle saw his opening penalty saved, but Peru's Luis Advincula hit a post with his and, with the other nine all converted, Redmayne's save from Valera's effort proved decisive.

Chance of winning the trophy - 1/5

Andrew Redmayne was Australia's hero, saving Alex Valera's spot-kick to seal a win over Peru

Luis Enrique - Enrique is one of very few current international managers who have huge pedigree at club level and could have the pick of any job he wants if he were to step down as Spain boss after the World Cup.

The treble he won with Barcelona in 2014-15 as Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar tore through defences across Europe was a joy to watch and now he's trying to get Spain back on top of the world. A semi-final loss to Italy at Euro 2020 was not a disaster but expectations are high going into Qatar. 

Ferran Torres - Spain have plenty of options all over the pitch but Enrique seems to have a soft spot for the Barcelona winger and starts more often than not.

After leaving Manchester City for the Nou Camp in a £55m deal in January, Torres has six goals and five assists in 15 appearances. Alongside Pedri, he now has the chance to cement his place as the new golden boy of Spanish football. 

In the end it was comfortable for Spain but they were far from secure at the top after four rounds of fixtures. An opening day draw with Greece and a defeat in Sweden in week four firmly put the cat amongst the pigeons.

But Spain showed their class from there and won their final four fixtures to seal top spot by a four-point margin and book their place in Qatar.

Chance of winning the trophy - 4/5

Spain are now looking to their next generation with Ferran Torres among their key players 

Hansi Flick - Like Enrique with Spain, Flick would have the pick of any club job he wanted if he decided to turn his career on its head. The German won back-to-back Bundesliga titles and the Champions League with Bayern before stepping down last summer.

He took over from the legendary Joachim Low after Euro 2020 and is yet to taste defeat, winning eight and drawing one of his nine games in charge. Flick has an exciting mix of youth and experience in his squad but can he piece it all together?

Kai Havertz - After taking a while to adapt to life at Chelsea after his £89m move in the summer of 2020, the 22-year-old is now a crucial player for Thomas Tuchel and influencing the biggest games he plays in.

Havertz scored the winner in both last season's Champions League final and this year's Club World Cup and is fast approaching that top level of player across Europe. He will be key for Germany in Qatar.

The Germans were overwhelming favourites to emerge from a weak qualifying group and did exactly that with nine wins from 10 matches. With 27 points, they finished nine clear of second-placed North Macedonia.

Flick's front-foot, high-tempo style helped them to 36 goals in 10 games, while they conceded just four. Two of those came in a shock defeat by North Macedonia in Duisburg but the Germans' place in Qatar was never at risk. 

Chance of winning the trophy - 4/5

The 2014 world champions revamped their national team after losing to England at Euro 2020

Hajime Moriyasu - Moriyasu made the step up from coaching the men's Olympic side to take over at the helm of the national team in 2018 after Akira Nishino, who led Japan to the last 16 at the World Cup in Russia, stepped down.

The JFA had considered former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger for the position at the time but Moriyasu has done a good job. Of his 49 matches in charge, he has won 35 and took Japan to the final of the 2019 Asian Cup.

Takumi Minamino - The forward may not have got the minutes he wants at Liverpool this season but there is no doubt he has made the most of the game time given to him by Jurgen Klopp.

Key goals in their victorious Carabao Cup campaign and more in the FA Cup mean Minamino has played a big part for Klopp on the fringes. His hard-working style and predatory instincts will give Japan a huge threat in Qatar. 

Similarly to Iran, after working their way through the convoluted qualification system in Asia, Japan finished second in their group in the AFC's third and final round to seal a place in Qatar.

Surprisingly, Saudi Arabia finished above Japan but it was definitely a two-horse race for the top spot. Beaten by Oman and Saudi Arabia, Japan recovered to win six of their last seven games to secure safe passage. 

Chance of winning the trophy - 1/5

Takumi Minamino and Japan recovered to win six of their last seven games to secure their spot

Luis Fernando Suarez - Appointed only a year ago, Suarez was parachuted in to resurrect Costa Rica's World Cup qualifying campaign. 

The Colombian took the reins from Ronald González, who was sacked after an awful run of 11 matches without a win.

Suarez has plenty of international pedigree, having led Ecuador to the last-16 of the 2006 World Cup where they were beaten by David Beckham and England.

He left the Ecuador role in acrimonious circumstances when the nation failed to build on their impressive performance in 2006 and started the qualifying for South Africa 2010 terribly.  

The 62-year-old has had a plethora of jobs in South America but is an experienced hand who has shown he has what it takes at major tournaments before.

Bryan Ruiz  - Now 36, Ruiz is very much in the twilight years of his career and this World Cup could prove to be his final international tournament.

The midfielder graced the Premier League with his presence for four years at Fulham but also bounced around in Holland with FC Twente, Belgium with Gent and then in Portugal with Sporting Lisbon.

Ruiz scored the winner in a major upset against Italy at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil - that saw Costa Rica progress at the Italians' and England's expense - before also finding the net in the last-16 victory over Greece. 

Because of their place in FIFA's rankings, Costa Rica were given a bye into the third stage of CONCACAF qualifying for Qatar - basically an eight team round robin.

Costa Rica won seven of their 14 matches but could only take fourth place after the USA beat them into the automatic qualification spots on goal difference. 

As a result, Costa Rice were dumped into the inter-confederation play-offs where they were drawn to play New Zealand.

Joel Campbell's early goal proved enough as Costa Rica held off battling 10-man New Zealand to qualify. The former Arsenal striker swept home after just three minutes to secure a 1-0 win at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Qatar.

New Zealand rallied, with Newcastle's Chris Wood having a goal disallowed, but Los Ticos goalkeeper Keylor Navas was also in inspired form and the late dismissal of Kosta Barbarouses damaged the All Whites' chances.

Chance of winning the trophy - 1/5

Joel Campbell's early goal proved enough as Costa Rica held off battling 10-man New Zealand

Roberto Martinez - Always linked with a return to Premier League management, the Spaniard is still in charge of the Red Devils and is preparing for his third major tournament in charge later this year.

Martinez led Belgium to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup - where they lost 1-0 to eventual champions France - but a mixed display at Euro 2020 saw them knocked out by the eventual champions again when Italy won their quarter-final 2-1.

This looks likely to be Martinez's final chance to win something with the country's 'Golden Generation'.

Kevin De Bruyne - The Manchester City midfielder has been arguably the world's best midfielder for two or three years now and has 11 goals and eight assists so far this season.

He came into last summer's Euros with a facial injury sustained in the Champions League final and then suffered an ankle knock against Portugal in the last 16. He did play in the quarter-finals but there were doubts he was fully fit. Belgium need their star man on fire if they are to have any chance in Qatar. 

Unsurprisingly, Belgium finished top of a mediocre qualifying group that contained Wales, Czech Republic, Estonia and Belarus. Perhaps the biggest shock was that they didn't take maximum points.

A pair of 1-1 draws away in Prague and Cardiff ensured they dropped four points but a handsome 8-0 win over Belarus this time last year sent Belgium on their way to qualifying with ease.

Chance of winning the trophy - 4/5

Belgium, who finished third in 2018, will be looking to finally cash in on their golden generation

John Herdman - The Englishman took over the men's side in 2018 having previously coached the highly-rated Canada women's team for seven years. 

Yet with a star-studded generation of players to call upon, the 46-year-old from County Durham had led Canada to their first World Cup in 36 years.  

Alphonso Davies  - Not a difficult one this. The Bayern Munich left back is one of the brightest defensive prospects in world football, having shown his quality in particular on the German side's run to the 2020 Champions League. 

However, he was not present when Canada qualified last week due to developing mild myocarditis, a heart condition, in January - though thankfully he is back training with his club.  

Canada finished top of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying with Mexico, having won eight and drawn four of their 14 qualification games. 

Their 4-0 win in Toronto against Jamaica last week secured their passage to Qatar amid huge celebrations - and Davies crying watching on from afar.  

Chance of winning the trophy - 1/5

Canada celebrate reaching their first World Cup finals in 36 years after beating Jamaica 

Vahid Halilhodzic - The Bosnian, who has had a rollercoaster managerial career, took over in 2019. He was the replacement for Herve Renard, who quit after Morocco were eliminated in the last-16 of the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

Halilhodzic has pedigree on the international stage, taking Algeria to the last-16 of the 2014 World Cup and helping Ivory Coast qualify for the 2010 World Cup and Japan for the 2018 edition - but on both occasions he was axed before the tournament.

A controversial figure, Halilhodzic forced Chelsea star - and his best player - Hakim Ziyech into international retirement following a long-term falling out. The 28-year-old was left out of the Africa Cup of Nations squad, and hasn't featured for the Atlas Lions since June last year.

The Chelsea forward has been in a war of words with Halilhodzic since last year, when he accused Ziyech of faking injuries to avoid national duty. 

Achraf Hakimi -  It's not very often a team's key player is their right back but when you've got a full-back as good as Hakimi then you are very fortunate indeed.

The PSG star has been incredible over the last couple of years for Dortmund and then Inter Milan, winning Serie A under Antonio Conte last season. Expect most of their play to come from down the right in Qatar. 

After winning all six of their group games in the second round of qualifying, Morocco were paired with DR Congo in the two-legged knockout tie for a place in Qatar.

Morocco showed their superiority eventually but the tie was finely poised after a 1-1 draw in the first leg. Halilhodzic's side blew their opponents away in the return, winning 4-1 to take their place in Qatar.

Chance of winning the trophy - 1/5

PSG right back Achraf Hakimi is Morocco's star player and a big threat from set-pieces 

Zlatko Dalic - If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Dalic has been in charge of Croatia at two major tournaments and took them to the World Cup final in 2018 and the last-16 of Euro 2020 before they were beaten by Spain in an eight-goal thriller in Copenhagen.

Dalic has settled on a system that gets the best out of his key players and everyone seems to buy into his plan. In December, he signed a new contract to keep him tied to Croatia until 2024 so this will not be his final tournament in charge.  

Luka Modric - Somehow he continues to perform at the very top of world football, even at the age of 36. Modric's performance in Real Madrid's recent Champions League win over PSG was a masterclass.

He's still a first-team regular at the Bernabeu and is still critical for his country. If Croatia are going to have any chance of upsetting the odds like they did in Russia four years ago then Modric will have to be faultless. 

Croatia squeezed through as winners of their group, just edging Russia (who took second place before they were banned from the World Cup after the invasion of Ukraine). 

Dalic's side pipped the Russians by a point after winning seven of their 10 matches in the group - including a 1-0 win over their strongest challengers in the final round of fixtures.

Chance of winning the trophy - 2/5

Luka Modric won the golden ball in 2018 as Croatia surpassed expectations as finalists 

Tite - The 60-year-old has, at one point in his career, seemingly managed every club in Brazil and was given the reins to the national team back in 2016 after their dismal display at that year's Copa America.

A quarter-final defeat in Russia in 2018 was disappointing but the Brazilians bounced back and lifted the Copa America in the following year. Once again Tite has an abundance of talent to manage but can he get everyone on the same page? 

Neymar - You can really take your pick from Alisson, Thiago Silva, Fabinho, Casemiro, Vinicius etc.. but if Neymar turns up to Qatar and fancies adding the dirty side to his tidy game on the ball then the rest of the teams will have a problem.

The Brazilian's reputation seems to be at an all-time low after PSG's latest European failure and a string of injury-blighted campaigns. But with an all-star cast beside him and defensive quality behind him, Neymar can undoubtedly fire Brazil to glory. 

Brazil enjoyed a near-faultless campaign in South America qualifying. They racked up an impressive 45 points from 17 matches win 14 wins, three draws, 40 goals scored and just five conceded.

Their 18th game - against Argentina - was suspended back in September when health officials ran on to the pitch to stop Argentina's England-based players from playing, saying they had breached the country's COVID-19 quarantine rules. It must be replayed but both are qualified though and their positions in the table finalised.

Chance of winning the trophy - 5/5

Brazil have as usual a star-studded list of talent to choose from but Neymar is still the standout

Dragan Stojkovic - Stojkovic was an instrumental player in helping Yugoslavia reach the 1990 World Cup quarter-finals and the Euro 2000 last eight. He was the prime candidate to take over after Serbia failed to reach Euro 2020 under Ljubisa Tumbakovic.

He was a fringe player in the Marseille side that won the 1993 European Cup, having also featured in their penalty shootout defeat in the 1991 final by his former club Red Star Belgrade.

He won two Yugoslav league titles with Red Star as a player and steered Nagoya Grampus Eight to the Japanese league title as coach in 2010, having also played for them between 1994-2001.

Dusan Vlahovic - From somebody nobody knew much about to one of the best finishers in European football, it's been a remarkable 18 months for the 22-year-old, who signed for Juventus for £67m in January.

He scored 21 in 40 games for Fiorentina last season and has followed that up with 25 in 35 for his former club and Juventus this season. Looking for a breakout star in Qatar? Vlahovic is your man. 

A stunning, unbeaten qualifying campaign saw Serbia overcome the might of Portugal to finish top of Group A with six wins from their eight matches.

Mitrovic's last-gasp heroics against Portugal sealed a memorable win and booked their place in Qatar but dramatic wins over the Republic of Ireland and Azerbaijan played their part.

Chance of winning the trophy - 2/5

Aleksandar Mitrovic scored a last-gasp winner for Serbia against Portugal to seal their place 

Murat Yakin - Despite Switzerland's impressive run to the Euro 2020 quarter-finals, Vladimir Petkovic made the bold move of stepping down after seven years to take over at Bordeaux - he lasted just six months in Ligue 1.

In came Yakin, who played 49 times for Switzerland during his career, from Swiss second-tier side Schaffhausen. He has overseen nine matches, winning four, drawing four and losing one. It remains to be seen if he has the credentials to lead his country deep into the World Cup.

Xherdan Shaqiri - Even at the age of 30 and recently moving to MLS, Shaqiri is still a mercurial talent and has a dazzling trick or two up his sleeve that makes him a must-watch at international tournaments.

He operated as a No 10 against England last week and looked menacing as the Swiss dominated the early exchanges. The former Liverpool forward played in all five of their games at Euro 2020, scoring three goals. He's still key. 

Many thought that, on the back of their success at Euro 2020, Italy would qualify for Qatar with ease. We all know how that turned out and Switzerland were the ones that dumped Roberto Mancini's side into the play-offs.

Two draws against Italy wiped out their threat and then Switzerland took care of business against Northern Ireland, Bulgaria and Lithuania by winning five out of six of those matches to claim top spot. 

Chance of winning the trophy - 2/5

Responsible first of all for Italy's non-qualification, you underestimate Switzerland at your peril

Rigobert Song - Capped 137 times by his country, appearing at four World Cups and eight Africa Cup of Nations, Song is a Cameroonian legend for his successes on the pitch from 1993-2010. 

Yet after the hosts were knocked out of AFCON 2021 in the semi-final stage a few months ago, Song received the opportunity to make his name in the dugout as he replaced Portuguese coach Toni Conceicao.  

Karl Toko Ekambi - The Lyon forward has scored 11 goals in 49 caps for his country, and spearheads an attack which also has strength in depth in the form of Vincent Aboubakar and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. 

Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana will be one of the most exciting goalkeepers in the tournament too.  

After topping a second-round group which included Ivory Coast, Cameroon got the better of 2019 AFCON winners Algeria in a two-legged tie. 

Riyad Mahrez and Co won 1-0 in Cameroon but Choupo-Moting's first-half goal triggered extra-time drama. Algeria thought they were through when William Troost-Ekong scored in the 118th minute, before Toko Ekambi scored a stoppage-time winner to give his country an away goals triumph. 

Chance of winning the trophy - 1/5

Cameroon celebrate after sealing their place in dramatic fashion against Algeria this week 

Fernando Santos - The man who masterminded Portugal's unlikely success at Euro 2016, when Eder's extra-time winner shocked France to the core, is still at the helm but many consider his job to be hanging by a thread.

Some would say he's lucky to even still be in a job, given Portugal were knocked out in the last 16 at the 2018 World Cup and again at the same stage at Euro 2020. They made it to Qatar through the play-offs and, with the squad at his disposal, Portugal really should be challenging for the trophy.  

Cristiano Ronaldo - His return to Manchester United may have not turned out how he or the fans would have hoped but even though results have been average, Ronaldo has proven that his instincts in front of goal are as sharp as ever.

A tally of 18 goals in 33 appearances - some of which kept United alive in the Champions League when all hope looked lost - is not bad at all but maybe it's time Ronaldo finally put his faith in the superb players Portugal have around him.

It was really a two-horse race in Group A that came down to the final match of the group. Portugal and Serbia were level on points ahead of their game in Lisbon but Aleksandar Mitrovic's 90th-minute winner stole victory for Serbia.

Ronaldo and Co dropped into the play-offs but they turned up when it mattered most, first beating Turkey 3-1 and then seeing off Italy's conquerors - North Macedonia - 2-0 to secure a spot in Qatar.  

Chance of winning the trophy - 4/5

Cristiano Ronaldo (left) will take part in his fifth World Cup finals at the age of 37 later this year 

Otto Addo - The former Ghanaian international - who played for Borussia Dortmund during an extinguished playing career - is currently his country's interim coach, with Serb Milovan Rajevac dismissed after AFCON. 

Almost more interestingly though, ex-Newcastle, Brighton and Birmingham manager Chris Hughton was in February appointed to be a technical advisor for the Black Stars.  

Thomas Partey - The Arsenal midfielder is his country's standout player, but endured a disappointing Africa Cup of Nations in January. 

Other key players include Leicester defender Daniel Amartey and Crystal Palace forward Jordan Ayew.   

Ghana have snuck into the World Cup finals by the skin of their teeth. Having finished level on points with South Africa in their group but qualifying by virtue of scoring one more goal, they faced Nigeria in a two-legged play-off. 

With the first game in Ghana a goalless draw, a 1-1 draw in Abuja - with Partey his country's goalscorer - was enough for the 2010 quarter-finalists to progress on away goals.  

Chance of winning the trophy - 1/5

Thomas Partey netted a tie-deciding away goal for Ghana against Nigeria in Abuja this week 

Diego Alonso - David Beckham's former Inter Miami manager was unveiled as the new coach of Uruguay back in December, replacing the legendary Oscar Tabarez after he was sacked following 15 years in the job.

Tabarez was shown the door after an abysmal run that left the two-time World Cup winners down in seventh place in South American qualifying. But Alonso oversaw a resurgence and four-straight wins booked their place in Qatar. 

Luis Suarez - Opportunities may be few and far between for the former Liverpool and Barcelona star at Atletico Madrid but he's as crucial now for Uruguay than he ever has been.

Suarez has scored in three of the four wins under Alonso and is still the driving force of the team alongside Edinson Cavani and the exciting Darwin Nunez. Suarez has lost a bit of that magic but he's still clinical and decisive in big moments. 

As previously mentioned getting to Qatar has been a bit of a slog for Uruguay but they finally booked their spot last week. Four straight defeats - against Brazil, Bolivia and two by Argentina left them on the brink of missing out.

But officials made the bold choice of replacing their manager and it's proven to be a masterstroke. Victories under Alonso against Paraguay, Venezuela and Peru did the trick and then they beat Chile in midweek to complete a superb turnaround in form.

Chance of winning the trophy - 2/5

Luis Suarez is still his country's greatest threat as the 2010 semi-finalists look ahead to Qatar 

Paulo Bento - It's coming up to four years in the job for Bento, the former Portugal boss who was charged with leading the national team to Qatar when he replaced Shin Tae-yong, who was not offered a new contract after the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Bento, who started out in coaching with Sporting Lisbon, led Portugal to the semi-finals of Euro 2012 but was sacked after a disappointing 2014 World Cup and a poor start to qualification for Euro 2016.

Son Heung-min - The Tottenham star really is the difference between South Korea having any chance of emerging from the group stage or crashing out early on. His performances alongside Kane have been impressive again this season but now he needs to take that onto the biggest stage.

Son produced a marvellous display when South Korea stunned the Germans and knocked them out of the group stage in Russia. He has 30 goals in 98 caps for his national team, which seems surprisingly low. Now is the time to stand up and deliver for his country.

South Korea cruised through the second round of Asian qualifying, winning five of their six initial group games. The only game in which they dropped points was a 0-0 draw away in Lebanon in 2019.

That saw them progress to the third round when, as mentioned earlier on, they were nudged into second place by Iran. They were comfortably clear of third-placed UAE though, finishing a huge 11 points ahead of their nearest rivals. 

Chance of winning the trophy - 1/5

Son Heung-min will be a key man if South Korea have any chance of progressing in Qatar 

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