Haaland, Salah, Mahrez… the 11 players who will not be present at the FIFA World Cup


Costa Rica became the latest team to clinch their ticket to the 2022 World Cup with a 1-0 victory over New Zealand in the second Intercontinental play-off on Tuesday night.

We now know which 32 teams will take part in the tournament in Qatar, which begins on November 21.

Many football-proud nations failed to qualify, including four-time winners Italy, and some of football’s greatest players missed the tournament.

Here we present to you the best of the players who will not be present at the World Cup…

Goalkeeper: Jan Oblak (Slovenia)

One of the greatest goalkeepers of the modern era, Slovenian captain Oblak may end his career without ever appearing in a major international tournament.

Slovenia finished fourth in their Qatar 2022 qualifying group, behind Croatia, Russia and Slovakia, and their last major tournament appearance was at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

RB: Vladimir Coufal (Czech Republic)
Coufal enjoyed another impressive season at West Ham, helping the Hammers finish seventh in the Premier League and reach the semi-finals of the Europa League under manager David Moyes.

But he and his West Ham team-mate Tomas Soucek will miss the World Cup after the Czech Republic finished third in their qualifying group behind Belgium and Wales, and lost 1-0 against Sweden in the semi-final of the play-offs in March.

The Czechs, who were world runners-up in 1934 and 1962 as Czechoslovakia, have failed to qualify for the tournament on four occasions.

Credit card: Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)
It’s still hard to understand how Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup, less than a year after being crowned European champions at Wembley.

After finishing second in their qualifying group behind Switzerland, Roberto Mancini’s men suffered a crushing defeat against North Macedonia in the semi-finals of the World Cup.

As a result, a number of legendary Italian players, including Juventus mainstay Leonardo Bonucci, are likely to have played in their last World Cup.

Speaking after the loss to North Macedonia, Bonucci criticized the play-off format: “We played everything in one game, it’s an absurd system. Unfortunately, that’s how it happened, but it’s a crazy decision. »

Credit card: David Alaba (Austria)
Last summer, Real Madrid defender David Alaba led Austria to the round of 16 at Euro 2020 for the first time in their history, where they lost to eventual champions Italy .

But hopes of a back-to-back major tournament for Austria were dashed by a 2-1 loss to Wales in the semi-finals of the World Cup play-offs in March, after finishing fourth in their qualifying group behind Denmark, Scotland and Israel.

Austria’s last World Cup qualification dates back to 1998 and the 2026 tournament, which will be held in Canada, Mexico and the United States, will likely be Alaba’s last chance to compete.

LB: Andy Robertson (Scotland)
Like Austria, Scotland last qualified for the World Cup at France 1998. They came close to ending that long wait this time around but were beaten by Ukraine in the semi – World Cup final delayed last month.

Liverpool defender Andy Robertson has apologized for Scotland’s poor performance in the emotional match at Hampden Park.

“It’s extremely disappointing because we’ve been waiting for this game for a long time. Our performances before the game were really good, but to be honest we didn’t really show up,” admitted Robertson.

The defeat summed up a disappointing end to the season for Robertson, who also suffered the Champions League final loss to Real Madrid, days after Manchester City snatched the Premier League title from Liverpool.

SM: Marco Verratti (Italy)
The second Italian on our list, Verratti was part of the team that lost to North Macedonia in the World Cup semi-finals in March.

After the loss, the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder apologized to the Italian fans and urged journalists to direct their criticism at the senior members of the squad.

“I don’t think the best way to handle this is to insult everyone, because each of us tried to give it our all. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough,” Verratti said.

“Above all, please leave the young players alone, if you really want to insult us, the ‘old’ ones, because sometimes you forget that we are just people like you, normal people, and that we also feel the greatest emotions in the smallest things. »

WC: Martin Odegaard (Norway)
Having performed very well with Arsenal this season, Odegaard has yet to take part in a major tournament with Norway.

They missed out on a place at Qatar 2022 after finishing third in their qualifying group behind the Netherlands and Turkey.

Norway haven’t qualified for a major international tournament since Euro 2000 in Belgium and the Netherlands, and their last World Cup appearance was in France 1998.

WC: Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)
Since winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 2019, Algeria haven’t done much right.

A dreadful defense of their African title at the 2021 tournament saw them finish last in their group behind Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone.

They were then beaten by Cameroon in a dramatic World Cup play-off in March. Ahmed Touba’s 118th-minute goal appeared to have secured Algeria a place in Qatar, but Karl Toko Ekambi scored a spectacular 124th-minute goal to qualify Cameroon on the away goals rule.

As a result, Manchester City winger Mahrez will sit out the World Cup, having played for Algeria in the 2014 tournament in Brazil.

LW: Luis Diaz (Colombia)

One of the signings of the season, Diaz immediately proved himself in the Premier League after being signed by Liverpool in January from Porto. But he won’t feature at the World Cup after Colombia failed to qualify for the tournament for the first time since 2010.

She finished sixth in the ultra-competitive South American qualifying group. Only the first four get an automatic place in Qatar and the fifth takes part in the intercontinental play-offs.

There were dim hopes that Colombia could secure a World Cup place if Ecuador, who finished fourth in qualifying, were sent off following allegations that their defender Byron Castillo had played despite being ineligible.

However, following an investigation into these allegations. FIFA has closed the disciplinary procedure against Ecuador, which retained its place at the World Cup.

RW: Mohamed Salah (Egypt)

Mohamed Salah must curse his luck after a year of missed opportunities with Liverpool and Egypt.

After losing on penalties to Senegal in the AFCON final in February, Egypt were beaten by the same opponents in the World Cup play-off in March.

Salah also missed out on the Premier League title and the Champions League in the final weeks of the domestic season.

Speaking after the play-off loss to Senegal, Salah hinted he could retire from international football after appearing in only one World Cup with Egypt, the 2018 one in Russia.

“There’s not much I can say, but it’s been an honor to play with you, whether I’m in the national team after that or not,” Salah said.

ST: Erling Haaland (Norway)

Arguably the most high-profile player on the list, Manchester City’s new signing Erling Haaland will be a notable absentee from the World Cup after Norway failed to qualify.

Norway had put themselves in a strong position halfway through the qualifying campaign, thanks in large part to the prolific form of Haaland, who has scored 20 goals in 21 appearances since making his national team debut in 2019.

But an injury to the striker which forced him to miss the last four qualifying matches sabotaged their progress, and Norway ultimately fell short after a 3-0 loss to the Netherlands.

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