Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back with the Swedish national side after an absence of five years as the continent with the most places in the world cup finals gets the qualifiers underway. I look at it in two way. One, there is no talent in Sweden such that they have to call up a 38 year old in the twilight of his career to help the team. Does it sounds harsh? I mean take a look at Sweden scoring record for 2021. They have averaged 1.5 per game and the average to qualify for a world cup is close to 2 per game. Number two, the Sweds have a host of young players that Zlatan can help with his experience. Talk about Kulusevski and Alexander Isak.
Qatar the host of the 2022 tournament have been included in the European qualifiers to help them prepare since the hosts automatically qualify for the main draw. They have been placed in Group A which includes Portugal, Serbia,Ireland, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan. The Asian Champions’ results however will not count in the final reckoning in terms of who goes to the World Cup. Let me describe the complicated qualifying sequence or at least try. The top team in each of the 10 groups qualifies straight to Qatar. The runner ups will be joined by the best group winners of the 2021 Nations League overall ranking that have neither qualified directly for the final tournament as European Qualifiers group winners, nor entered the play-offs already as European Qualifiers group runners-up. The 12 teams will be drawn into three play-off paths for one-off semi-finals and a final. The three path winners qualify for the World Cup. Got it? I didnt. Check out the groups below.
Group A: Portugal, Serbia, Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg, Azerbaijan
Group B: Spain, Sweden, Greece, Georgia, Kosovo
Group C: Italy, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Bulgaria, Lithuania
Group D: France, Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan
Group E: Belgium, Wales, Czech Republic, Belarus, Estonia
Group F: Denmark, Austria, Scotland, Israel, Faroe Islands, Moldova