World Cup Preview - Group A: Hosts Qatar to crash out?


With the World Cup just around the corner, we look at the four teams in Group A and analyse their chances in Qatar. 




How they qualified 


Ecuador qualified for the World Cup fourth in the CONMEBOL table. They held third spot for a lengthy period, but slipped late, though it didn’t cost them. They picked up some impressive wins in qualification, beating both Uruguay and Colombia, thumping the latter 6-1 in November 2020.  


They were the youngest side to qualify from South America and finished two points ahead of Peru, who lost to Australia in their playoff. Chile and Peru complained to FIFA as Ecuador had fielded an ineligible player in Byron David Castillo, however the complaint was rejected by CAS, meaning they are still going to Qatar. 


One to Watch - Moises Caicedo 


Brighton’s Moises Caicedo is the player to watch for Ecuador. Caicedo’s box-to-box role will be able to help Ecuador at both ends of the pitch, providing balance to their side, as they look to qualify from Group A. He has been in terrific form for Brighton since signing for the Seagulls in January 2021. He has played 25 times for his country, scoring two goals in their qualification campaign, helping them to Qatar. 


Young Player to Watch - Piero Hincapie 


Piero Hincapie has played 11 times for Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga this campaign, as well as five of their Champions League games. The 20-year-old will be able to shore up their defence against sound attacks in Senegal and the Netherlands, while also allowing Pervis Estupinan to bomb forward and support the offensive. 




With teams such as Senegal and the Netherlands in their group, they will be hard pushed to make it out of the group stage. Should they achieve that, though, they will equal their best record, where they made the Round of 16 in the 2006 World Cup. 




How They Qualified 


Three time World Cup finalists Netherlands qualified automatically, scoring 33 goals in the process. They will be keen to impress in the World Cup after missing out on the 2018 edition in Russia. They reached at least the semi finals in their last two tournaments in 2010, where they went on to lose the final to Spain, and 2014. 


One to Watch - Memphis Depay 


Memphis Depay chipped in with 18 goal contributions (12 goals, 6 assists) in the qualification process and will be the one to watch for the Oranje. The Barcelona man will be a key force in their attack as they look to progress to the latter stages of the tournament, though a lack of regular game time for the Blaugrana may well impact his influence. 


Young Player to Watch - Cody Gakpo 


As part of that Dutch attack, Cody Gakpo has had an electric season with PSV Eindhoven, and the World Cup provides a great opportunity to put his name firmly on transfer radars among Europe's elite. He was tipped to leave in the summer, with interest from Southampton and Leeds, but remained with PSV despite their failure to qualify for the Champions League, and he could very well help his nation to a successful tournament. 


World Cup Preview - Group A: Hosts Qatar to crash out?




This Netherlands team were knocked out very early in their Euro 2020 campaign after their 2-0 defeat to the Czech Republic, but they will be back for revenge, and we could see them go on a semi-final run similar to 2010 and 2014. 




How they qualified 


As hosts, Qatar automatically qualified for the tournament. As a result, they have had no qualification matches to play. They appeared at the Copa America in their attempts to become more recognised on a global level. Outside of that, they have been organising as many friendlies as possible, even taking on club sides like Udinese and Antwerp. 


One to Watch - Hassan Al-Haydos  


Hassan Al-Haydos is the epitome of “Captain, Leader, Legend” for Qatar. He wears the armband, has made more appearances than anyone else for the host nation, and he is extremely influential. 


Young Player to Watch - Mohamed Waad  


Mohamed Waad is Qatar’s young player to watch. He plays for Al-Sadd in Qatar’s domestic league, and could make a mark in this tournament. While few will be familiar with the hosts' individual players, they will hope to leave a lasting impression this month. 




Unsurprisingly, Qatar are projected to not make it out the group, with their group rivals all remarkably stronger. It would be an unbelievable achievement for a country that has never qualified for a World Cup to make it to the knockout stages. As such, we expect them to finish bottom of the group. 




How they qualified 


2022 AFCON winners Senegal beat Egypt in a qualification playoff, the same result in the Africa Cup Of Nations final. There is plenty of confidence flowing through the team and the expectations back home are incredibly high. 


One to Watch - Sadio Mane 


Unsurprisingly, Sadio Mane is Senegal’s player to watch, even thought he has had a recent injury scare, which many people thought would rule him out of the tournament. The former Liverpool man has been in good form for Bayern Munich, and can hopefully carry his team out of the group stages. 


Young Player to Watch - Iliman Ndiaye  


Iliman Ndiaye is a young player to watch for the Lions of Teranga. The Sheffield United player has been a big part of the Blades' rise up the Championship table, scoring nine goals and making two assists for the Yorkshire outfit. As for Senegal, he made his debut last summer as he came off the bench against Benin in a 2023 AFCON qualifier. 




Senegal are probably the second best team in the group and are expected to reach the knockouts for the first time since 2002. They went out in the group stages in Russia 2018. 


Group Stage predictions

1.    Netherlands

2.    Senegal

3.    Ecuador

4.    Qatar

World Cup Preview - Group A: Hosts Qatar to crash out?