Category Archives: 2022 FIFA World Cup

FIFA World Cup Qualification: Italy vs Switzerland on Friday 12 November 2021 in Rome Anna Italia
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Italy European Champions will play the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification against Switzerland on Friday 12 November 2021 at the Olimpico di Roma Stadium in Rome at 20:45.  Italy is in UEFA Group C one of the ten groups in the World Cup qualification tournament to decide which teams will qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Italy leading Group C with 9 points, followed by Switzerland with 6 points, Bulgaria, and  Northern Ireland with 1 point, and Lithuania without points.   The group winner will qualify directly for the World Cup finals, while the runner-up will advance to the second round (play-offs).

The Switzerland game in Rome will be the side’s 63rd there, in the city that has hosted the Azzurri the most times. In the 62 up to now, they have won 38, drawn 17 and lost just 7. Italy have played Switzerland 59 times, including the 3-0 EURO 2020 group-stage win on 16 June; of the 59, the side have won 29, drawn 22 and lost 8.

Italy restart their adventure towards the World Cup in September: on 2 September they face Bulgaria at the Artemio Franchi Stadium in Florence, on 5 September they face Switzerland at the St. Jakob Park in Basilea, while on 8 September they will play Lithuania at the Stadio Città del Tricolore in Reggio Emilia. After the October international break that is reserved for the Nations League Final Four, the Azzurri will again get back to qualifiers, hosting Switzerland before visiting Northern Ireland on 15 November.

World Cup Qualifiers: 12 November, Italy vs Switzerland at the Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Asia World Cup qualifying: What’s next?

FIFA World Cup Preliminary Draw

  • 12 teams in Asia are still in contention to qualify for the World Cup
  • Round 3 draw to take place on 1 July in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • breaks down everything you need to know

The path to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ has reached a pivotal stage in Asia.

Twelve teams have qualified for the third round after a nearly two-year long journey in Round 2. Group winners Syria (A), Australia (B), IR Iran (C), Saudi Arabia (D), Japan (F), United Arab Emirates (G) and Korea Republic (H) will be joined by the five best runners-up: China PR (A), Oman (E), Iraq (C), Vietnam (G) and Lebanon (H). Qatar finished as winners of Group E, but as hosts have already qualified for the World Cup and will not participate in the next round of qualifying.

What’s next?

The 12 teams will be split into two groups of six in a home-and-away, round robin format. The winners and runners-up in each group (four total) will qualify directly for the World Cup finals, while the third-placed teams will advance to the fourth round, where they will play to determine which team will advance to the intercontinental play-off.

When’s the draw?

The third round draw will be conducted on 1 July in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Games in the third round are scheduled to be played on the following match days: 2 September 2021, 7 September 2021, 7 October 2021, 12 October 2021, 11 November 2021, 16 November 2021, 27 January 2022, 1 February 2022, 24 March 2022 and 29 March 2022.

How will the seedings for the draw work?

FIFA has released a special FIFA/Coca-Cola Ranking specifically for Asia today, 18 June 2021, which will be used to determine the seeding for the draw. Qatar, while ranked fifth in this ranking and winners of Group E in Round 2, will not be participating in the third round.

How will the draw work?

Teams will be divided into six pots according to the FIFA Ranking published on 18 June 2021: Pot 1: Teams ranked 1-2, Pot 2: 3-4, Pot 3: 5-6, Pot 4: 7-8, Pot 5: 9-10, Pot 6: 11-12. The pot number corresponds to the position the team will be placed in the group.

The first and second ball drawn from each pot will be placed in Groups A and B respectively. The draw will begin with Pot 6, where the first ball drawn will be placed in position A6. The next ball drawn will be placed in position B6, until the sequence is completed all the way through to Pot 1. News

International stakeholder group to support ensuring an inclusive FIFA World Cup launched

FIFA World Cup

  • First meeting of the Core Stakeholder Group on Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination held this week
  • Tournament organisers reiterated commitment to diversity to leading organisations in this field
  • The participants cover key areas such as gender and race equality, LGBTIQ+ and disability inclusion

A meeting on Monday between the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ organisers and leading organisations in the diversity field laid the foundation for a structured engagement process on inclusion and anti-discrimination, which is intended to inform and further strengthen the steps taken by the tournament organisers to ensure a fully inclusive tournament.

During this first meeting, the Core Stakeholder Group on Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination was provided with an overview of the event’s Sustainability Strategy and on the series of initiatives implemented, and the members of the group shared their initial reflections and recommendations in that respect.

Among the initiatives discussed were anti-discrimination training of personnel involved in the tournament delivery, the implementation of in-stadium measures to detect and address discriminatory incidents, steps taken to ensure an accessible tournament experience, and the establishment and delivery of human rights grievance mechanisms.

“The FIFA World Cup is welcoming and inclusive for everyone – to people of all races, cultures, religions, gender, sexual orientation, disability and other diverse groups. We know that we can only succeed in our mission of ensuring a fully inclusive tournament if we listen to and work with key stakeholders that represent the diverse communities who will benefit from these measures and by integrating their perspectives and expertise into our work,” said Joyce Cook, FIFA’s Chief Social Responsibility & Education Officer. “This meeting was a key step in that respect, and we greatly appreciate the commitment of the group to accompany us on this journey.”

The participants of the group cover key areas such as gender and race equality, LGBTIQ+ and disability inclusion, and involved organisations such as the Fare network, Football Supporters Europe (FSE), ILGA World, the Centre for Sport and Human Rights, and Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE), among others. Through an umbrella process, FIFA, in collaboration with its joint venture subsidiary and local partners, will provide those key stakeholders with regular updates and promote exchanges, as well as address issues raised by the experts and their constituents.

This meeting follows another exchange held last week by FIFA with a wide group of LGBTIQ+-led and ally organisations from many countries and operating at the local, regional and international levels and gathered by the Fare network News

Friendlies provide lessons and questions for African giants

Riyad Mahrez(7) of Algeria celebrates his goal against Tunisia

  • Africa’s top team sets new record for games unbeaten
  • Algeria shine, Morocco with work to do, Tunisia seeking dynamism
  • Aforementioned trio preparing for Qatar 2022 qualifiers and the FIFA Arab Cup

The second half of 2021 promises to be a busy one for many teams from the Arab world, with the qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ in Asia and Africa, as well as the inaugural edition of the FIFA Arab Cup to be held in Qatar at the end of the year.

Indeed, with a qualifying round for this new tournament taking place in the coming days, and AFC teams engaged in Qatar 2022 qualifying, several Arab teams without either of those obligations took advantage of the international window to play friendlies. This was the case for the likes of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, who all had useful lessons ahead of their forthcoming challenges.

A record and confidence boost for Les Fennecs

Undefeated since November 2018, current CAN Africa Cup of Nations champions, and the highest placed African side in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, Algeria already seem well equipped for the challenges ahead.

But coach Djamel Belmadi is not one to rest on his laurels and impressed on his squad the importance of their games against Mauritania, Mali and Tunisia. “These friendlies are far from being insignificant for me, since they’ll be decisive for the next FIFA Ranking. Our goal is to maintain our position among the continent’s top five, so as to have home advantage for the return leg of a potential [third round] play-off for the 2022 World Cup,” he announced.

Mission accomplished so for Belmadi’s charges, who strung together three straight wins: 4-1 against Mauritania, 1-0 against Mali, and – most significantly – 2-1 in Tunisia, their nearest continental rivals in the FIFA Ranking. The sequence also enabled Algeria to set a new record (27) for games unbeaten by an African team, surpassing that of Côte d’Ivoire (26). Better still, victory in the Maghreb derby, allowed Les Fennecs to move ahead of their neighbours in their head-to-head, with a 16th victory in 44 meetings compared to 15 for Tunisia and 13 draws.

“This unbeaten run means a lot, principally because it shows how consistent we’ve been since being crowned African champions in 2019 and how we got right back to work on delivering big performances. The credit must go to the players, who’ve worked hard to beat this record,” said their coach after the victory in Rades. “Of course, it won’t be easy to keep the run going, especially as everyone is waiting to take us down.”

The three games also allowed Belmadi to experiment with his squad, giving opportunities to central defenders Ahmed Touba and Abdelkader Bedrane, who showed that they could fill in for regulars Djamel Benlamri and Aissa Mandi. Ramiz Zerrouki and Haris Belkebla also impressed, while Riyad Mahrez showed once again how important his skill and experience are in big moments. The Manchester City striker, absent against Mauritania, grabbed the only goal of the game against Mali, and his side’s second against Tunisia after Baghdad Bounedjah opened the scoring.

Ramiz Zerrouki (L) of Algeria in action against Mali

Carthage Eagles still hopeful despite setback

For their part, Tunisia confirmed their standing as a force in African and Arab football with two wins – over Congo DR (1-0) and Mali (1-0) – from their three friendlies, cementing their place as the second-best African team in the FIFA Ranking. Without influential midfielders Youssef Msakni and Ferjani Sassi, the team struggled a good deal in the face of Algeria’s pressing and dynamism, unsurprisingly going down despite a committed and tenacious response in the second half.

And while this strength of character was not enough to turn around a Maghreb derby, it did help Mondher Kebaier’s men triumph over Congo DR a few days earlier, thanks to a solitary goal from Naim Sliti on the stroke of half time, and to do the same against Mali yesterday courtesy of an Anis Ben Slimane strike on 90 minutes.

Among the positives to take from those fixtures is the solid start in a Tunisia shirt for Manchester United forward Hannibal Mejbri. The 18-year-old provides an additional attacking option for a team who have been lacking a bit in that department despite the best efforts of Wahbi Khazri.

Atlas Lions effective if unspectacular

Last but not least, Morocco had only two matches during the international window, but both were tough opponents. Against Ghana (1-0) and then Burkina Faso (1-0), Vahid Halilhodzic’s men did what was required with two wins without dazzling particularly.

The Atlas Lions were grateful to some of their leading lights, namely a composed and dependable Yacine Bounou in goal, and influential attacking midfielder Hakim Ziyech, who lit up proceedings after coming on against the Black Stars and set up the winner for Jawad El Yamiq. Also decisive was Ashraf Hakimi, who scored the only goal of the match against the Stallions with a free-kick.

The team’s Bosnian coach will have been please to see two solid performances from his side despite many changes, with only Adel Taarabt, Romain Saiss, Hakimi and Youssef En-Nesyri making the starting XI for both fixtures. “Between now and September, we have to become much more efficient and determined for our qualifying games,” warned the coach after their second match, despite the two victories.

CAF’s qualification groups for Qatar 2022

Preliminary qualifying draw (CAF) News

Vietnam make history as last-12 finalised in Asia

Vietnam vs Indonesia, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying

  • Asia’s last 12 line-up complete on the road to Qatar 2022
  • Vietnam seal maiden progression to Round 3, Uzbekistan suffer surprise exit
  • IR Iran, UAE and China PR stage late comebacks to progress

The curtain finally came down on Asia’s second round of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™ with the last 12 line-up complete after the closing matchday. Eight teams shored up passage on Tuesday – Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, IR Iran, Iraq, Oman, Lebanon, China PR and Vietnam – to join the already-qualified Japan, Australia, Syria and Korea Republic in the third round.

These teams will be divided into two groups of six with the draw taking place on 1 July. The sides will battle against each other across seven months from 2 September 2021 – 29 March 2022 with the top two in each group qualifying for Qatar 2022, while the two third-placed teams will advance to the fourth round play-off.

Vietnam proved the biggest surprise packages by sealing maiden progression to the third round. Uzbekistan, conversely, were eliminated in unexpected fashion after losing to Saudi Arabia on the final matchday. Meanwhile, Iran, China and UAE all overcame erratic form early in this campaign with a strong finish to progress.

Join as we take a closer look.

12 qualified teams

Group winners: Syria, Japan, Australia, Korea Republic, Saudi Arabia, Iran, UAE,

Best runners-up: Oman, China, Lebanon, Iraq, Vietnam

2022 FIFA World Cup Asia Qualifiers: 15 June 2021




Australia vs Jordan, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying

Australia vs Jordan, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying

Iraq walk out ahead of the match against IR Iran

IR Iran walk out onto the pitch ahead of the match against Iraq

Mirlan Murzaev of Kyrgyz Republic and Shinnosuke Nakatani of Japan compete for the ball 

Ado Onaiwu (2nd R) of Japan celebrates scoring his side’s first goal with his team mates 

Mirlan Murzaev of Kyrgyz Republic converts the penalty to score 

Takuma Asano of Japan takes on Kairat Zhyrgalbek Uulu of Kyrgyz Republic

Afghanistan captain Farshad Noor walks out onto the pitch

Faysal Shayesteh of Afghanistan dribbles against India 

Muhammed Ashique Kuruniyan of India dribbles against Haroon Amiri of Afghanistan in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying

Wu Lei of China PR dribbles against Syria

Mirlan Murzaev (L) of Kyrgyz Republic reacts after scoring his side’s first goal with his team mate Aizar Akmatov 

Saudi Arabia vs Uzbekistan, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying

Saudi Arabia vs Uzbekistan, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying

Salman Alfaraj of Saudi Arabia smiles

Memorable moments

Early progression
Japan became the first side to secure a place in the third round, with a 10-0 drubbing of Myanmar sending them through with two games to spare. Joining them as second qualified team were an impressive Syria, who advanced by beating Guam 3-0 in the penultimate match. Australia sealed early progression with seven straight victories, including a 3-0 defeat of Nepal in the penultimate matchday, while a 2-1 narrow win against Lebanon in the closing match saw Korea Republic advance as group winners.

Powerful comeback
While eight qualified teams left it late, three of those nations impressed by sealing qualification with four wins on the trot. In the process, both Iran and United Arab Emirates rallied to stage powerful comeback and win their respective groups despite floundering early in this campaign. China, under new boss Li Tie, emerged unstoppable including defeating group winners Syria 3-1 in the closing match to progress as one of the best runners-up.

Return to the elite
Both Oman and Lebanon sealed their return to the third round after missing out on the decisive stage on the road to Russia 2018. Despite losing to group winners Qatar in the return match, the Omanis claimed three straight wins to secure their place among the five best second-place finishers to progress. Lebanon, who finishing second in their group just a point clear of Turkmenistan, only saw their progression confirmed after both Jordan and Uzbekistan lost in the closing matchday.

Breakthrough for Vietnam
This campaign saw the emergence of Vietnam, who made history by sealing maiden progression into the third round. Having reached the last eight in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, the team continued to make progress on the continental stage under coach Park Hangseo. Entering the back-end of the campaign as group leaders, the Vietnamese registered back-to-back victories against Indonesia and Malaysia and advanced as one of the best second placed finishers, despite narrowly losing to hosts UAE 3-2 in the concluder.

Heart-breaking near-miss
It proved a painful night for Uzbekistan, whose hopes of a first FIFA World Cup were shattered after losing to Saudi Arabia 3-0 in the closing matchday. It is the first time that the Central Asians have suffered an exit at this stage since joining AFC in 1994, having reached the final qualifying round in each of the past six World Cups.

The players

A host of players announced stepped into the spotlight to help their respective teams through. Notable among them was 23-year-old striker Nguyen Tien Linh, who struck four times, including scoring the match-winning goal in the first-leg meeting against UAE, to help his side achieve breakthrough progress.

Korea Republic’s young forward Song Minkyu showed no stage fright in his international debut, providing an assist in their 5-0 rout of Turkmenistan before opening the scoring in the crucial win against Lebanon. At the other end of the spectrum, experienced China striker Wu Lei proved instrumental throughout, scoring seven times to fire into Round 3.

Did you know?

Australia and Japan maintained an unblemished record during their second round campaign, winning eight from eight and conceding just two goals each. News