Brian Kawalya: My Five 2022 FIFA World Cup Predictions

The long wait is over, the biggest sporting event is here, look away Olympics.

Since FIFA President Sepp Blatter opened the envelope back in 2010 to reveal Qatar’s successful World Cup host bid, this event has been met with negative reviews, especially from the Western media.

The small but rich Islamic gulf nation has been hugely criticized for their human rights record, mistreatment of foreign workers, and corruption scandal in their bid among others.

But as Qatar has rightly put it in their World Cup slogan, ‘now is all’ indirectly asking everyone to focus on the present and that’s football. And When the first whistle goes, the rest will be background noise.

As it has always been the case, Uganda will be watching this World Cup at home after coming short once again in the Qualifiers, but many will be rooting for their favourite teams and stars, and of course the five African representatives.

And here is the breakdown of my general thoughts as the global stars meet in Middle East.

Top Performing African Representative

Can Tunisia finally deliver knockout?

All the African representatives – Ghana, Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco and Cameroon will be have native coaches, and that spices up things. And I see this as the tournament that Africa will remember most for all the good reasons.

Senegal look strong contenders to come out of the group which I think they will but it might prove a huge task without target man Sadio Mane who is ruled out after that injury at Bayern Munich.

I think Africa will get two teams to the knockout. And that second will be Tunisia, yes, I am going for a hard pick this time.

Tunisia will be at the World Cup for a sixth time after previous appearances in 1978, 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2018 but have never been able to get out of the group stage on all occasions.

Last edition in Russia, they had England, Belgium and Panama in the Group, going on to finish third, with the other two England and Belgium going all the way to the semis.

This time round, they have two European sides again, in France and Denmark, the other team being Australia.

Boss Jalel Kadri called up a very experienced squad including key player Wahbi Khazri who scored two goals in Russia. They might not have a chance against France, but I see them stunning Australia and Denmark.

Top Scorer

Without Erling Haaland, Kylian Mbappe will prove handful for the defenders. Courtesy photos

Hard to call. I have changed my mind on this as the count down to the event progressed. I had Romero Lukaku in mind but given that he may not play the opening games, I had to look elsewhere. I turned focus on Karim Benzema but he has been ruled out of the tournament with injury.

I am going for Kylian Mbappe. He scored four goals in Russia and I think he can go better this time round. He has been impressive this season amidst all the transfer rumours linking him away from PSG. 12 goals in 14 Ligue 1 matches is a good report card going to Qatar.

Gifted with pace, composure, good finishing, excellent dribbling skills, explosive acceleration among others, Mbappe will be too much for defenders to handle.

Flop

Favourites Brazil (yellow) may be up for another poor show

Brazil. Reason? Because they are not going to win it. They are record winners with five, with their last coming in 2002 in Korea/Japan. And will all the records, flair and pedigree, anything short of a trip to the final is considered a bad tournament for the Selecaos.

Eliminated by France (2006) and Netherlands (2010) at the Quarters, and then mauled by Germany 7-1 in 2014 on home soil before falling to Belgium in Quarters in Russia.

They had a good squad on paper but I don’t think it compares well with their past squads as Tite returns for a successive World Cup as only one of three Brazilian managers, along with Mario Zagallo and Tele Santana to achieve the feat.

They will be banking on Neymar at the front who I find wanting in terms of leadership while the scoring load might prove too heavy for Vinicius Junior to carry alone when it matters the most.

The likes of Dani Alves and Thiago at the back are past their primes, and that will come at the fore when they face off with physical sides like Cameroon and Serbia in the group where Switzerland will also have a big say.

If Brazil goes past that Group, they will face one of the top two teams in Group H that has Ghana, Korea, Portugal and Uruguay! Kind reminder, favourites rarely win a World Cup.

Golden Ball

Now or never for LM10

The World Cup tournament in Qatar will probably be the last for a couple of stars including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric, Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski.

For Messi and Ronaldo, winning the World Cup may cement their claim to being the best ever, at least, it’s one thing they haven’t achieved in what has been an unprecedented career.

I don’t see Ronaldo walking away with the World Cup but I think Messi have a better chance of the two. This will be his fifth World Cup tournament after 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018.

He lost Germany in 2014 in Brazil after that Maria Gotze extra time goal and it could have been a different story if any of Rodrigo Palacio or Gonzalo Higuain converted their chances, just like Jorge Burruchaga did it for Maradona and Argentina in ’86.

Messi might be way past his prime, but he has over and again produced those moments that have left us in awe. Qatar, get ready for the Last dance of an Icon.

And the Winner is?

Didier Deschamps will lead France to another adventure

France. Hehehehe. There is nothing more difficult to predict than calling a bet on France. They win the World Cup this year, and the next edition you will see them failing to go past the groups. And just to note, France have suffered six exits at the group stage, including in 2002 (Korea/Japan) and 2010 (South Africa), and in most of those occasions, they are always among the favourites.

So, don’t be shocked if they put up another miserable show.

The World Cup is one tournament that is hard to defend, simply because it’s played after four years, and a lot happens in between for a defending champion. Only Brazil and Italy have managed to win it back-to-back. And I am tipping France to join that elite team.

Like I said, that are unpredictable, they won the Nations League title in 2020-21, only to survive relegation the next edition by a whisker.

Didier Deschamps who will not be with Karim Benzema (injury) has some faces that helped win the World Cup in Russia, joining a list of players to have won it as both captain and Coach the other being Franz Beckenbauer and Mario Zagallo.

Away from Ballon D’or winner Benzema, its going to be a tough run without Ngolo Kante and Paul Pogba but that’s a blessing in disguise for the young duo of Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni, not to mention Youssouf Fofana.

France are in a Group with Tunisia, Denmark and Australia, and coincidentally, they had the last two in their group in 2018 Russia.

It’s a hard pick this one, but at least I haven’t given it to England.

TOP STORIES

WATCH VIDEOS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *