The desert temperature on the Arabian peninsula won’t reach the blistering heights of summer during the Fifa World Cup’s first winter competition this year. And the absence of a certain Norwegian striker’s sand-golden, swaying locks may potentially mean that the quality of football on display will correlate with the drop of the mercury in Qatar.
The highest profile footballer on the planet right now will only be able to watch the 2022 Qatar World Cup from home this November, due to Norway finding themselves unable to qualify.
The Norwegian talisman has not only lived up in every aspect to the hype after his move from Borussia Dortmund this summer, but he’s well and truly become a cheat code – smashing records in the Premier League.
However, fans across the globe will miss out on seeing if Haaland can continue his impressive form on the world stage. He isn’t alone in being one of the current greatest talents in the game that are missing out. The likes of PSG stopper Gianluigi Donnarumma, Liverpool forward Mohammed Salah, Chelsea playmaker Jorginho and Spurs midfielder Yves Bissouma will also not feature in the Middle East this November.
The current European Champions, Italy, are the obvious absence in this years World Cup. The ‘Azzurri’, or The Blues, disappointed international football fans hoping to see the world’s greatest talent on show by failing yet again to qualify for The World Cup. Just as they failed to qualify for Russia 2018, the Italians couldn’t make it through the playoff stages.
Along with Italy and Norway, there are other countries making headlines for being unable to navigate a way through the qualifying processes. Hungary, who have looked very impressive in the Nations League recently, are a notable absence. Austria, Czech Republic and Sweden are amongst the other Europeans who miss out too. The noteworthy South American’s who are not able to strut their stuff on the world stage are the likes of Chile, Colombia and Peru. Whereas Egypt, Nigeria and Algeria make up the stronger of the African nations missing out on World Cup Qualification too. Egypt come as the next most notable nation to be unable to showcase their very own superstar. The man who’s referred to as the ‘Egyptian King’ on Merseyside, England, Mohammed Salah is probably the next name mentioned after Erling Haaland when talked about high profile players not playing at this years World Cup in Qatar. Sarah’s former Liverpool team mate Sadio Mane led his Senegal side to victory over Egypt in qualifying by the way of a dramatic penalty shoot out. Although the qualification glory went to Senegal, the tie was marred by controversy as it was claimed that Salah and other Egyptian teammates were the target of laser beam attacks from the crowd.
So will it be life as normal for the players of the nations watching from home?
Erling’s club manager at Manchester City Pep Guardiola spoke to the Telegraph about the strikers rest during the competition: “Unfortunately for him Norway cannot go to the World Cup. He will have one or two weeks’ holiday and after that come back to training and be ready to continue.”
Erling became the second Haaland to wear his name on the back of a Manchester City shirt in the Premier League when he moved to the Blue side of Manchester in May this year. His father Alfie made 38 appearances for the Citizens between 2000 and 2003. But as a defender, father Alfie racked up just 19 goals in 194 career appearances. In staggering contract, goal machine Erling has 15 goals in NINE appearances for Man City alone, bagging THREE hatricks already. It begs the question just how different could this competition have been with Norway playing? It’s not to suggest that they have the squad depth and quality to pose a real threat, but there’s surely no debate that the viewer experience is diminished without the unreal talent Haaland has.
Just how the folk-rock band ‘America’ exclaimed in their 1971 hit, that they’d been through the desert on a horse with no name, The FIFA World Cup arrives in the Qatar desert with a crucial name missing too.