Qatar’s foremost playmaker Akram Afif is perhaps the Football World Cup host state’s highest asset and concern covered up in one. The 25-year-old striker crowned Asia’s player of the year in 2019 and further famous for setting goals rather than scoring them has become essential to the footballing success of the Gulf Arab states. Always, when he is there, he finds answers for the squad. Without him it would be a large problem,” said former Qatari forward Mohamed Mubarak al-Mohannadi.
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During the Asia Cup tournament in 2019, which Qatar won, Afif’s assists complete most of the nine record-setting goals Almoaz Ali scored. Afif “can make things happen in a second. It’s exciting. He plays off the left, likes to cut private and he can score goals,” said Tim Cahill, the retired Australian striker who is director of sports at the Aspire Academy in Qatar, from which Afif graduated.
The transfers that Afif sets up are so critical to Qatar’s victory that if something goes awry and Afif is not on the pitch the whole thing could unravel. “When Akram does not play, the national squad is a lot less unsafe. Offensively, it’s almost toothless and you can actually realize it in the squad’s self-confidence stages,” said Ahmed Hashim, editor of Qatar Football Live, a Twitter channel, and a longtime observer of the match in Qatar. “Akram staying fit and at his highest stages is very, very key for Qatar.
This may be the reason why the Qatar league ended its matches earlier this year and Afif, along with the other Qatar players, has been sequestered in a series of national training camps in Spain and Austria since the start of the summer. Afif was born in the Gulf Arab state where his Tanzanian-born father of Somali origin was playing for the prominent local club Al Ittihad.
Akram’s older brother Ali plays for Duhail. Afif has long been touted as one of the furthermost promising brilliants in the region and has played in Belgium with Qatari-owned Kas Eupen as well as becoming the initial Qatari to feature in Spain’s La Liga with Sporting Gijon. He gives back to Qatar in 2018 to link leading club Al Sadd, where Spanish Football World Cup champion Xavi Hernandez played and then achieved until last year.
The Qatar Football World Cup is Afif’s big opportunity to play on the world phase and, possibly, to draw the consideration of scouts and clubs beyond the Gulf Arab state, Hashim said. “He still has a lot of potentials even at 25. This is his moment. When Qatar plays Ecuador in the Football World Cup showpiece opener on Nov. 20, an 18-year, billion-dollar national project to build a good and maybe competitive national team will be put to the exam.
Success in that opening game, the squad’s first arrival at global football’s showpiece event, would give Qatar vital points and the momentum required to make it through to the previous 16, said former Qatar forward Mohamed Mubarak al-Mohannadi. “I’m watching to victory the first match. It’s the most significant.
We’re not asking them to (victory) the Football World Cup,” he added. Most of Qatar’s Football World Cup side the popular of whom are nationals and expatriates born, raised, and naturalized in Qatar were scouted as kids and came up through the positions of the $1.3 billion Aspire Academy. Many of the side as well as star duo Akram Afif and top-scorer Almoez Ali have been playing together under Spanish-born coach Felix Sanchez since 2014 when he led them as an Under-19 Qatari side to the AFC youth competition title.
Dutch take winning form into Qatar as legitimate Football World Cup contenders
The Netherlands has legitimate expectations of turning their status as Football World Cup closely men into victors as they take a 15-competition winning run into the Qatar finals and pin their expectations on the wily ways of veteran coach Louis van Gaal.
The Dutch have been runners-up three times and, although they lost out on the previous tournament in Russia four years ago, are one of the form squads going into 2022 finals, with high expectations of turning silver onto gold. They have been matching with hosts Qatar, Ecuador, and Senegal in Group A and kick off their campaign against the African side in Doha on Nov. 21.
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The Netherlands topped their Football World Cup qualifying group and then complete initial in their Nations League group as the coming back of Van Gaal breathed innovative life into their fortunes. Bellicose, belligerent, and pompous, he has fallen on his look in the historical, like at Barcelona and Manchester United, but there is no disputing his achievement with the Dutch national squad.
This is his third term after the Dutch FA immediately turned to him to take over when they were removed by the Czech Republic at the previous European Championship. They have not missed since, renewing self-confidence in the squad after the barren patch that followed Van Gaal’s previous spell when they complete third at the 2014 finals in Brazil. There he showed himself advanced and intuitive, shocking the Dutch football community by ditching the sacrosanct 4-3-3 approach in favor of using wingbacks.
There was an uproar when he first suggested it, in a nation infatuated with tactics and formations and deeply convinced of the “Dutch way” of playing attacking football. But Van Gaal overlooked the detractors and was shown right as he took his side through to the semi-finals. He is set to do it again, even if there has been little time to work on the ‘new’ system with the present crop of players.
This time the chorus of disapproval has been muted, so much credit has Van Gaal garnered. At 71, and undergoing treatment for cancer, this is his last chance for Football World Cup glory and Van Gaal has made it clear he and his side are targeting to success. His players trust so too. “We are going to Qatar with a lot of poise,” said skipper Virgil van Dijk after they tired Belgium in their last outing in September.
‘Wow’: Virgil van Dijk reveals shock Newcastle visit which proved an ‘eye-opener’
Virgil van Dijk has revealed a visit to St James’ Park to watch Newcastle United convinced the future Liverpool star his future lie in the Premier League. The Champions League champion admits he was wowed by the passion of the Toon Army and the ‘passion’ on show on the pitch. The Netherlands international expended time at the start of his career with Willem II and Groningen, before making the move to Celtic.
Van Dijk spent two years in the Scottish capital before earning his vision transference to England with Southampton in 2015. Liverpool would go on to sign the defender in January 2018 in a world-greatest £75 million deal, and the 31-year-old is careful to be one of the world’s top center-backs. Talking with Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville, van Dijk conferred how a call to Tyneside to watch the Magpies sow the seeds for his Premier League move seven years later.
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