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MANAGER: Felix Sanchez
QUALIFICATION RECORD: Automatically as host nation.
KEY MAN: Almoez Ali
ONE TO WATCH: Akram Afif
TOURNAMENT PROSPECTS: With a far from ideal draw, there shouldn’t be too much expected. Home advantage should give Qatar some optimism, though. They are also already well accustomed to the conditions. Any success will likely come courtesy of Almoez Ali as the 26-year-old striker is the country’s highest scorer of all time.
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Akram Afif could also cause a stir. He came to European prominence in 2016 when signing for Villarreal and returned to Qatar a far more rounded player. The pacy forward can play wide left or centrally and will be an outlet for any attacking threat his country carry.
TRADER TIP: Qatar Double Chance in all games.
MANAGER: Gustavo Julio Alfaro
QUALIFICATION RECORD: Earned an automatic spot to Qatar after finishing fourth in South America’s system with Michael Estrada top scoring with six goals.
KEY MAN: Moises Caicedo
ONE TO WATCH: Piero Hincapie
TOURNAMENT PROSPECTS: A result against Qatar on the opening night of the tournament is key, as they are unlikely to get anything against the Dutch. It could be a straight shootout for second place with Senegal in their final group game.
England potentially lie in wait in a Last 16 rematch from 2006 where David Beckham got the winner. Ecuador have never progressed past that stage in three previous World Cup appearances and don’t expect that to change this time around.
TRADER TIPS: Ecuador Most Cards in all games.
MANAGER: Aliou Cisse
QUALIFICATION RECORD: Beat Egypt on penalties after finishing top of their qualifying group, scoring 15 and conceding four in an unbeaten campaign.
KEY MAN: Kalidou Koulibaly
ONE TO WATCH: Boulaye Dia
TOURNAMENT PROSPECTS: The current AFCON champions will view it as a disappointment if they can’t make it past Ecuador and Qatar to the Last 16. There they could face England, and while Senegal struggle creatively, they should fancy their chances against Gareth Southgate’s side who are not on the hottest run of form coming into the tournament. Kalidou Koulibaly will be expected to do the bulk of the heavy lifting if they are to reach the quarter-finals.
TRADER TIPS: Senegal to Qualify from Group A.
MANAGER: Louis van Gaal
QUALIFICATION RECORD: Went unbeaten after a surprise opening day loss to Turkey. Memphis Depay was top scorer (12) and assist maker (6).
KEY MAN: Memphis Depay
ONE TO WATCH: Cody Gakpo
TOURNAMENT PROSPECTS: Should progress as group winners, where the USA or Wales are likely opponents. They are still relatively young, so reaching the semi-finals would be considered a successful tournament.
But, if Memphis Depay were to get a serious injury, they would struggle in the forward areas. Despite this, Louis Van Gaal’s unbeaten tenure in his third stint as Dutch manager means you can’t rule them out as a dark horse to win the whole thing.
TRADER TIPS: Netherlands to reach the semi finals.
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