It is only eight months until Qatar 2022 and the world is buzzing for the tournament which promises to be legendary. 15 of the 32 teams have already qualified and 17 more are left, before the draws on April 1 to determine the groupings for the tournament.
As the battle for the final qualification spots for the 2022 FIFA World Cup gets underway, we take a look at some of the teams who could cause an upset at the global showpiece in Qatar later this year.
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Denmark | FIFA Ranking: 9
Denmark have truly become a force to reckon with in Europe in the past two years, and it is evident in their current FIFA ranking.
Semifinalists from the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament and one of the most impressive teams during the qualification phase, Denmark is looking like a team nobody will want to have in their group at the finals of the World Cup.
Christian Eriksen will also be returning to the side after his unfortunate incident at Euro 2020, which will serve as motivation for the Danes, who manager Kasper Hjulmand said are ‘happy to be World Cup dark horses’.
However, it will be a tougher task to finish better than their France ’98 quarter final finish seeing as they will be competing with the world in Qatar, and not just Europe. Still, a bet on Denmark reaching at least the quarter finals at the expense of some of the favourites is not a risky one.
United States of America | FIFA Ranking: 13
The USMNT failed to qualify for the World Cup in 2018 for the first time in 32 years, but are back on the global stage. They have since stabilized their team with a plethora of youngsters who have gained experience playing all over the world: from Europe, to South America, and even in the CONCACAF region.
Their current crop is arguably their golden generation who may be a tad too early for global acclaim, but their eagerness, experience, and amazing talent may prove too much to handle for quite a number of teams. A quarter final berth may be a risky bet on the USMNT but the Stars and Stripes will definitely cause a group stage upset to make it to the round of 16.
Serbia | FIFA Ranking: 25
Serbia are a team who tend to disappoint on the global stage, having exited from the group stage in the past three World Cups. However, this generation of players look to be the most cohesive that the Slavic nation has ever been on a football pitch in a long time.
Dusan Vlahovic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Dusan Tadic, Nikola Milenkovic, and so much more currently line up for Serbia as well as many of Europe’s top clubs, with their top players mainly playing in Italy’s Serie A. With eight months to go to further understand themselves, there is no limit to the Serbs’ potential to upset the rankings in Qatar later this year.
Senegal | FIFA Ranking: 18
The African Cup of Nations champions attained the highest ranking of an African team in decades after a historic win in Cameroon.
Senegal has been at the top of Africa for quite some time and their victory over Egypt only served to solidify that position and also announce them as a team to be reckoned with in world football.
The Korea/Japan 2002 quarter finalists have yet to secure qualification to Qatar but will surely be a team to beat if they make it past their AFCON final opponents, Egypt, who also stand in their way to another World Cup appearance.
Switzerland | FIFA Ranking: 14
Switzerland is one of the most unpredictable tournament sides in football, as they always manage to pull upsets over favorites to progress to the knockout rounds. It is that same run which many believe the Swiss are bound to repeat in Qatar, making them one of the tournament’s dark horses who should not be ignored.
Also, they qualified ahead of Euro 2020 winners Italy, who now have to compete in playoffs to determine their participation at the 23rd edition of the FIFA World Cup. Nothing says “Giant Killer” more than beating the strongest Italy side in over a decade to the top spot in World Cup qualifying.