5 Shock Teams to Have Qualified for the 2022 World Cup

Jo Hinmers

Canada

Having been the first team to certify their place in the top 3 of a group, which also featured the nation with the largest pool of professional footballers in the world, as well as the ever-developing US Men’s National Team, it is fair to suggest the North American nation is the biggest surprise team to have qualified so far.

English first-team coach John Herdman guided Les Rouges to automatic qualification following a convincing 4-0 win against Jamaica on Sunday, with Herdman himself suggesting it was a big feat that few people believed would actually happen. He said: “I think this country never believed in us because we've given them nothing to believe in. They believe now.”

This is only the second time Canada have qualified for the World Cup, with the nation and its fans hoping to do much better than in Mexico 1986 where they finished bottom of their group, failing to score a single goal.

Herdman will look to capitalise on the experiences of players like Champions League winner Alphonso Davies, Lille’s free-scoring Jonathan David, who has been persistently linked with moves to the Premier League and Porto’s Stephen Eustaquio who is having a stellar campaign that looks likely to see him aid the boys in blue bring back domestic success to the city.

Cameroon

Given Cameroon’s pedigree of developing some of the biggest names in world football – your Samuel Eto’o’s and Roger Milla etc. as well as being a cult team of World-cups-past, it may come as a surprise to many to see them on this list. However, today’s team is not reminiscent of their 1990s-2000s era, which saw them qualify without fail almost every year.

Having failed to win a World cup match since 2002 and not managing to qualify for Russia in 2018, as well as having their best player, Liverpool’s Joel Matip, out against Algeria in the qualifiers on Tuesday, you would have been forgiven for expecting not to see their names on the confirmed Qatar 2022 teams list.

Not only were Cameroon outsiders against 2019’s Africa Cup of Nations victors, the stunning way in which they clasped victory to progress is really what places them on this list. After a 118th-minute thought-to-be winner from Algeria’s Ahmed Touba, which saw the Algerian players charge across the pitch in ecstasy and had the Stade Mustapha Tchaker rocking from the fans' jubilation.

The Algerians continued celebrating all the way to the second minute of stoppage time in extra time, where the mood turned from euphoria to misery as Cameroon’s Karl Toko Ekambi slotted home a 124th-minute winner to silence the Algerian fans and send a shockwave of celebration down south into Cameroon, who were beseeching to bring football success back to their nation.

A shock qualification given the circumstances of the match as well as the difference in the quality of the two teams, many will be buzzing to see the Indomitable Lions back playing at the highest level come December.

Serbia

Whilst Serbia are far from a small footballing nation, having qualified for almost every tournament without fail since the turn of the century. Their success, or lack thereof, in the UEFA European Championships and failing to even qualify in the 21st century, tied with the fact they were placed in a group with the 2020 winners, and potential World Cup favourites in Portugal gave very little hope that they would qualify this time around, certainly not top of their group.

However, after a stellar qualifying campaign that saw them not lose a single game, including a 90th-minute winner from Fulham’s free-scoring Aleksandar Mitrovic away in Lisbon, Serbia deservedly, yet still surprisingly, secured their automatic place in Qatar later this year.

Many are suggesting they could be the tournament’s dark horses, given their abundance of attacking options, with the aforementioned Mitrovic, Juventus’ young starlet Dusan Vlahovic, Ajax’s creative number 10 Dusan Tadic and Real Madrid’s Luka Jovic among others, they are certainly a team to keep an eye on come November.

Ecuador

Much like Cameroon and Serbia, Ecuador is again a name-stay in international football that may lack the silverware and success of larger nations, they are ever-present in the minds of ‘decent’ footballing nations.

However, it is merely the triumph and magnitude of the teams they must face to secure qualification that makes them a shock qualifier for Qatar later this year.

CONMEBOL and South America are synonymous with not only producing the biggest names in world football, but also the toughest and highest quality teams.

While Ecuador is no exception to this, historically they are not on the same table as some of the big boys – Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia and more recently Chile. Despite losing their final matchup against Paraguay, Ecuador’s impressive form in the subsequent qualifying matches which included an impressive 2-0 win over Chile and holding on with only 10 men to draw 1-1 away to giants Brazil, was enough to see them claim the fourth and final automatic qualification spot for Qatar.

Ecuador Securing the fourth spot has meant World Cup bastions and previous continental winners, Colombia as well as 2015/2016 back-to-back Copa America victors, Chile will both not travel to Qatar in December, with the 5th play-off spot being handed to Peru. Ecuador’s success only comes as a shock given the fact it has come at the expense of two footballing nations, who many would have put money on seeing at the Tournament later this year.

Ghana

At 61st, Ghana is currently the lowest-ranked team to have secured qualification in Qatar.

Whilst they may not have had the most difficult of groups to qualify from, Ghana took full advantage, finishing top without losing a single game. The more impressive and, to some, surprising result came in the next round of qualifiers where they were placed against African footballing giants and every neutral favourite team of the 2018 World Cup, Nigeria.

Ghana, much like Cameroon had to overcome their opposition over two legs to secure their place in Qatar. After a relatively uneventful bore-draw at the Baba Yara Stadium, Ashanti, the Ghanaians were understandably the underdogs for the away fixture, where they would come to play in front of almost 62,000 fans in Abuja.

Nonetheless, after the 0-0 draw back in Ghana, Arsenal’s high-flying Thomas Partey opened the scoring for Ghana inside 10 minutes which proved, despite an equaliser from Troost-Ekong only 12 minutes later, to be enough to send Ghana to Qatar on the away goals ruling.

This will be the first time Ghana have competed at the World Cup for eight years after failing to qualify for Russia in 2018, and for many comes as a shock given that Nigerian have qualified for the last six, dating back to 1994, and that the Ghanaians, despite their heart and passion, look far weaker than the 2010 side, who managed to reach the quarter-finals in South Africa.


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