Graham Arnold Happy with Draw for Early World Cup 2022 Qualifiers

Australia national team coach Graham Arnold welcomed the World Cup 2022 draw in the second stage of the Asian qualifiers. Australia have been bad up alongside Jordan, Nepal, Kuwait, and Taiwan. The national team has had huge success at World Cups before, but the team is at a crossroad due to the retirement of several high profile players. Arnold is expected to go for a young team at this World Cup. The team assembled by Guus Hiddink at the start of the century was able to achieve five consecutive qualifications to the World Cup. Australia is one of the top teams in the five groups, which have 40 teams in total, from Asia.

Arnold was especially pleased with the opportunity to face Kuwait, who were Australia’s opponents in his first match in charge. Australia were able to claim a comprehensive 4-0 win in this game and the psychological advantage provided by this victory will be a key factor. At the same time, Australia have also played against Jordan. The big challenges for Australia will be to manage Nepal and Taiwan – two relatively unknown teams. After having worked with 80 different players, Arnold says that Australia are in a good position to qualify.

Apart from competing to play at the World Cup 2022, Australia have also agreed to take part in the Copa America 2020, which will be held in Colombia and Argentina. The tournament takes place between June 12 and July 12.“We are happy with our draw. My first game in charge was in Kuwait City, and we won 4-0, so we have been there and experienced Kuwait as a group.There are two teams that we have drawn (Kuwait and Jordan) that we have experience against and two teams that we are not as familiar with,” said Arnold.

CAF MODIFIES WC QUALIFIERS SYSTEM

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) have announced modifications to the qualifying system for the World Cup 2022 in Qatar. The continental football governing body decided to drift from the system used to select participants in the 2018 World Cup.

The current system will see the top 26 sides in the FIFA rankings skip the first stage. The rest of the 28 teams will be split in two with the top 14 playing against the lower rung. The lower half will host the higher ranked counterparts in the first leg before the return leg – a move that seems to give an advantage to the higher ranked sides.

The 14 sides that qualify from this will join the exempted 26, making a list of 40 sides to slug it out. The 40 teams will be shared into 10 groups, 4 teams each based on the prevailing FIFA ranking. This list will have all the top, mid and low ranked sides to ensure a balance.

The final stage will see the top teams in each group, making 10split in half. The top five ranked national teams will face the lowest ranked sides hosting – this means the higher ranked sides will have to prove their mettle to get the nod.

CAF modified this system as against putting 20 teams in 5 groups. The 20 teams were selected via two knockout stages. The current system was used for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. With the 2022 World Cup being the last to take 32 teams, the next World Cup qualification method is expected to be altered again to fit the expended 48-team system.

England’s 1966 World Cup hero fancies country’s chances in Qatar

England’s 1966 hero Geoff Hurst believes the Three Lions have a good chance of lifting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, considering the matches would be played between November and December. The schedule for the global tournament was postponed to the winter period to avoid the heat wave in the host nation and Hurst feels the same could benefit the Three Lions.

Speaking to FIFA.com, Hurst said that England players generally find their peak form during the month of November and that could be advantageous for the nation at the tournament in Qatar, he said: “Yes, I do – November is the peak of the season for us. After starting in August, the players will be at their peak – they should not be tired – so I can only see a benefit to our country.
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Bayern Munich signed me because I am one of the best – Pavard

France World Cup winner Benjamin Pavard has said that Bayern Munich acquired his signature because he is one of the best full-backs in the Bundesliga. The young right-back played a crucial role for Les Bleus during the 2018 World Cup where they were crowned champions for the second time in their history.

As such, there was always expected to be widespread interest in his signature, but Bayern acted at the earliest possibility to secure his services from next season. Speaking to Canal Football Club, Pavard said that he has been consistent in the German top-flight and that has been the prime reason behind him joining the Bundesliga holders.
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Nigeria head coach insists his players are one of the best for the country

Nigeria head coach Gernot Rohr has said that the current crop of national team players are among the best since the days of Kanu Nwankwo and Jay-Jay Okocha. The Super Eagles have comfortably qualified for the last two major tournaments under Rohr, but they were disappointing at the recent World Cup, where they could not make progress beyond the group phase.

Speaking in a press conference, Rohr suggested that Nigeria are going through their best generation when it comes to the footballing talent, and the team has players, who can transform into big stars in the future, he said: “We all know that Nigeria once had big stars like Kanu Nwankwo and Austin Okocha. Since they retired, Nigeria has not found a replacement. But I can assure you that we have very talented players among the young people who are currently playing, but there is still a lot to be done to make the Eagles become stars. This team has quality, but you have to work on it to become big stars.”
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FFF President insists Adrien Rabiot is far off from France recall

French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet has said that Adrien Rabiot is far off from making the national team following his decision to snub the standby role at last summer’s World Cup. The midfielder has since endured a tough time at club level with Paris Saint-Germain where he has been laid off due to a contract dispute and it appears that he won’t return to the national side anytime soon.

Speaking to L’Equipe, Le Graet said that the midfielder has not been suspended for his actions during the summer and any selection depends on manager Didier Deschamps. He added that Rabiot may not return to the side anytime soon with his struggles to acquire gametime with Paris Saint-Germain this term.
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Carlos Queiroz announced as Colombian’s new head coach

Colombia have announced that Carlos Queiroz has been assigned with the head coach role following his departure from Iran earlier in the month. The Portuguese tactician had been with the Asian heavyweights for the past eight years but he has now been given a fresh challenge with Colombia, who are keen to make progress in the Copa America as well as qualify for another World Cup.

Speaking to reporters, the former Manchester United assistant revealed that it’s an honour to take up the job and he is hoping to keep up with the country’s recent uptrend in terms of results, he said: “For me it’s an honour, and I’m happy to have the trust of the federation. First off, I intend to take care of the great tradition here that has grown larger over the years.
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Hugo Lloris focusing on Tottenham Hotspur than World Cup plaudits

Tottenham Hotspur captain Hugo Lloris has said that he is more focused on the present rather than thinking about his personal success at the summer World Cup. The France international led his country to their second World Cup crown last summer after beating surprise finalists Croatia by a comfortable 4-2 score.

Since then, Lloris has returned to normalcy with Tottenham Hotspur at the club level and speaking to reporters, the goalkeeper has highlighted that he is concentrating on the team’s performance rather than basking over his World Cup glory, he said: “To be honest, the football and the time is going so fast. I don’t want to say that I’ve forgotten about the World Cup but, for me, it belongs to the past. I don’t have time to make a step backwards and think about the World Cup. Every time people talk about this moment – it gives you a lot of positive energy. But as a professional and as a man I am just focused on today and tomorrow.”
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Pele tips Kylian Mbappe for stardom after France World Cup success

Brazil legend Pele has heaped praise on the qualities of Kylian Mbappe and believes the Frenchman can become the ‘new Pele’. The 20-year-old has experienced an astronomical rise over the past 30 months and last summer witnessed him secure the World Cup crown with Les Bleus while contributing four goals in the process.

As such, the forward was named the young player of the tournament and he has since received praise from all corners including Pele, who sees himself in the Frenchman, he told France Football: “He won the World Cup at nineteen, I was only seventeen. I teased him saying he had almost equalised. I think he can become the new Pele! Many people think I said that to laugh, but no, it’s not a joke.”
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Qatar Going Big with Gold Stadium for 2022

There may still be a lot of uncertainty with regards to the 2022 World Cup, but Qatar are going all out with regard to the competition. The nation is spending a huge sum of money in order to improve the stadium and other infrastructures. Unsurprisingly in a rich country, the biggest spending is being carried out with regard to the stadiums. The pinnacle of the event could be a brand new stadium, which is still being constructed in the Lusail City, which is situated to the north of Doha. This will be a80,000-seat stadium, which will be build to reflect one of the highlights of this nation – gold.

Apart from hosting the first and the last match of the World Cup 2022, this stadium will also be used as a place for all cultural activities in the city. The stadium is expected to cost in upwards of $1.5 billion. This marks a significant investment and Qatar are planning to spend an incredible $6.5 billion just in terms of the stadium and the training facilities. The World Cup will being in November 2022 and it will conclude by December. The Lusail Stadium is expected to be ready by the year 2020. Qatar is building seven stadiums in total at this massive cost.
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