The World Cup 2022 News Headlines

Heskey: Coaching helps you look at football differently
Heskey: Coaching helps you look at football differently
13 Apr 2021

Emile Heskey coaches Leicester City Women.

  • Emile Heskey represented England at four major tournaments
  • The former Liverpool striker is now coaching Leicester City's women
  • He tells FIFA.com about that job and gives his take on England's Class of 2021

Emile Heskey is one of Leicester’s favourite football sons. A local lad made good, he lifted two League Cups for his hometown team before becoming a treble-winner at Liverpool and earning 62 caps for his country.

In a ‘golden generation’ of dazzling individual English talent, he was the unflashy personification of humility and hard work. Michael Owen, for whom he acted as a tireless and selfless foil, still names him – without hesitation – as his best strike partner.

Now 43, Heskey finds himself back at Leicester City, beginning his coaching career where he started out as a player. But he is not, as might have been expected, taking those early steps with Brendan Rodgers’ UEFA Champions League-chasing men’s team.

His expertise is instead being utilised with the club’s women, who this season earned promotion to the increasingly star-studded WSL 1, topping the second tier with two games to spare.

Jonathan Morgan, the side’s manager, had spent his youth idolising Heskey. "We still joke about it now,” he said recently, “but I remember when I was a young lad at the park literally saying Emile's name when I was scoring goals.” Now Morgan says he is discovering and benefiting from the same humble honesty that made the former England striker such a favourite of team-mates and managers.

Heskey is relishing the coaching experience, too, and explained why in an interview in which he took time to reflect on his England career and assess the Three Lions’ current generation.

Emile Heskey of England controls the ball under pressure from Medhi Lacen and Anther Yahia of Algeria during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group C match between England and Algeria at Green Point Stadium on June 18, 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa. 

FIFA.com: Emile, can you tell us how the job with Leicester City Women came about and how you’ve been enjoying it so far?

I’ve been loving it to be honest. I’d been a Leicester club ambassador for a while and I’m on a UEFA course which requires you to undertake some work experience inside the football club, so I asked about helping out somewhere. Susan Whelan (Leicester’s chief executive) said that the club was just about to acquire Leicester's women’s side (previously independent of Leicester City FC), and suggested I get involved and become an ambassador for them. In the end that’s morphed into coaching the team too, and I’ve really enjoyed the experience. The only downside is that the staff played a tournament recently with the girls and they beat us eight games out of nine! (laughs)

Was the coaching element of it a surprise to you, and something that just evolved?

It was. I'd been quite happy with the ambassadorial role, doing bits and pieces off the pitch, but when Jonathan came and asked if I fancied doing some coaching, I thought ‘Why not?’ And once I was out on the grass, I enjoyed it. I’d done a bit of coaching towards the end of my playing career, working with the U-21s at Bolton, but here I have the opportunity to get involved a lot more, working with individual players and looking at different tactics. And it does help you look at football differently. After 20-plus years of looking purely from an individual’s point of view as a player, now I have to look at it from a coach’s perspective, getting into players’ heads, delivering my message in the right way so that what I'm telling them ends up getting translated out on the pitch.

It must be an exciting time to be involved at Leicester, with the women’s team going up to WSL 1 for the first time and the men flying high in the Premier League.

It really is. When you look at the progression of Leicester as a club, it’s massive. We're cemented as a force to be reckoned with in the Premier League, obviously winning it under Claudio [Ranieri] but also consistently pushing for Champions League spots in the last couple of years too. That ambition and feelgood factor is there with the women’s team too, having been at the top of the table all season and getting up to WSL 1 at such a critical time, with so much more sponsorship and TV coverage coming in there. It’s an exciting time to be going up into what is already a very good league.

As you say, even without the latest cash injection, the WSL already boasts many of the world’s top players. Is testing Leicester’s players against those stars something that excites you?

In football, that’s what it’s all about: pitting yourself against the best. I loved doing it as a player and, yeah, I can’t wait for our players to challenge themselves against the Man Citys, Arsenals, Chelseas – with all the stars they have – and see how they measure up. As a club, we definitely want to be competitive in that league – we don’t want to just be part of it. There are big ambitions for women’s football at Leicester; it’s not just a little side project.

Emile Heskey, LCFC Ambassador and Coach reacts with Millie Farrow of Leicester City following the FA Women's Continental League Cup Semi Final match between Bristol City and Leicester City at Twerton Park on February 03, 2021 in Bristol, England.

Do you see yourself being part of that journey for Leicester City Women, or is there another direction you see your career going in over the coming years?

Quite honestly, I’d love to stay part of it. I don’t know what the future will bring but it would be nice to play a part in continuing the team’s progression. I know how ambitious the club is about the women’s team, and the thought of being part of their first season in WSL 1, seeing them play games in the King Power, definitely excites me. It’s also nice to be part of the wider progression of women’s football, and hopefully getting it to a level that it should have been at years ago.

This has been your first experience coaching female players. How have you enjoyed that, and has there been any adjustment required?

I enjoy it until I get beaten by them in training matches, or I need to join in the running! (laughs) Honestly, they’ve been great. They’ve taken to me really well, and I wasn’t sure if that would be the case, with me coming in from the men’s game and trying to implement certain things. But they’ve been very receptive and I can see some real development as a result of the things we’ve been trying to teach them.

In the men’s game, we’ve had World Cup qualifying starting up recently in Europe and some early wins for England. What do you make of the current squad?

In my opinion, Gareth Southgate has one of the toughest jobs in football just selecting a squad because there’s so much English talent there to choose from right now. I think it looks great for England at the moment. There will always be discussion about why this player or that player isn’t being picked, but that comes with the territory. It’s Gareth’s job to win games and he’ll do that by finding the right blend. And I think he will.

As a former centre-forward yourself, how highly do you rate Harry Kane?

Very highly. When I look at him, I see a natural goalscorer – someone you can always rely on. Looking at it from a coaching perspective, I appreciate all the more that those players – the ones who’ll get you goals week in, week out, year in, year out – are worth their weight in gold. Harry’s been fantastic for England, a great captain, and that’s saying something because I’ve always said that forwards shouldn’t be captains because they’re too selfish. But he’s taken that role on, made it his own, and for me whatever frontline Gareth plays, Kane is the one player who has to be there.

You played and scored in England’s most famous World Cup qualifier: the 5-1 win in Germany. Was that the highlight of your time with the national team?

Yeah. Nothing could measure up to that. You’ve got to remember that we’d lost the last game at the old Wembley to that Germany team not long before. They hadn’t been beaten at home for 50-plus matches and, to make things even tougher, we went 1-0 down after seven or eight minutes. For us to win in those circumstances, and win the way we did, was just phenomenal. Sven [Goran Eriksson, England’s then coach] was very clever and tactically astute in the way he prepared for that game and, even when we went a goal down so early, we never panicked. We hit them at certain key times, and it was just a very special night.

Was it even better than playing at the World Cup itself?

It’s hard to compare the two. Growing up, playing in a World Cup, scoring in a World Cup, is what you dream about. The 1994 tournament in America made such a big impression on me because Romario was one of my all-time favourite players, and I can still remember his goals and the way he combined with Bebeto – it was just flawless. So when I got the chance to go to the World Cup, it did bring back all those great memories I’d had as a kid.

Emile Heskey in action at the 2002 World Cup.

When you look at the team that beat Germany and went on to Korea and Japan, you can see why people thought England could, and maybe should, win that World Cup. Was that your feeling too at the time?

One hundred per cent. We eventually lost in the quarters to the Brazil team who went on to win it, but I even felt we should have beaten them. We went 1-0 up through Michael [Owen] and, looking back, our tactics weren’t the best after that. We sat back too much and invited probably the best attacking force in football at that time – Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho – to come on to us. Those three were phenomenal that day, but I do think our tactics worked against us. Brazil obviously had a bit of luck too. It was a shame because I would have loved to have won something with that England team because there was so much incredible talent in that generation.

Sport. Football. 2002 World Cup Qualifier. Group 9. Munich. 1st September 2001. Germany 1 v England 5. The England team line up together for a group photograph. Back Row L-R: Sol Campbell, Emile Heskey, Rio Ferdinand, David Seaman, Michael Owen. Front Row

Caparros: Armenia must have faith in the work being done 
Caparros: Armenia must have faith in the work being done 
10 Apr 2021

RCD Espanyol v Sevilla FC - La Liga

  • FIFA.com speaks exclusively with Armenia coach Joaquin Caparros
  • His side have begun Qatar 2022 qualifying with three straight wins
  • "We've started well, but we’re keeping our feet on the ground," he says

When Joaquin Caparros was appointed Sevilla coach back in 2000, he could never have guessed where he would be coaching 21 years later.

From then until 2005, he became an idol at the Andalusian club, contributing to the development and consolidation of future stars like Sergio Ramos, Jesus Navas, Jose Antonio Reyes and Dani Alves. After taking charge of a variety of clubs in Spain, Switzerland and even Qatar, he returned to Sevilla in 2018, where he had two short spells as interim coach interspersed with a period as the club’s director of football. Then in early 2020, he got a call from Gines Melendez that would change everything.

The veteran coach, who had enjoyed great success while in charge of Spain’s youth teams, was the one who sought out Caparros to offer him the Armenia job, having himself being appointed technical director of football at the country’s football association the previous year. Now in need of a coach for the national team, he knew right away that Joaquin was his man.

"They want to develop, and they know that this depends on the credentials of the coaches they have. They're doing great and we’re seeing results that give credence to the president and everyone involved. It's the path we have to follow," Caparros tells FIFA.com when asked about the change in Armenian football.

"I still had time on my contract with Sevilla, but Gines Melendez told me about the Armenia opportunity, so I met him and the president of the national federation. There was a good feeling and a sense of empathy, so we hit it off and came to an agreement quite quickly. They trust us and there’s very smooth communication," Caparros says of the decision to embark on this adventure.

Since then, the mutual affection between Caparros and Armenia has only deepened, helped by a dream start for the coach. "Getting promoted to UEFA Nations League B was reward for the work being done, but it was also unexpected because we were competing against quality teams like Georgia and North Macedonia. It was a success and provided a major morale boost for the country and the squad. It reaffirmed that Armenia must have faith in the work being done," said the former coach of Athletic Bilbao, Deportivo La Coruna and Mallorca, among others.

That promotion was the best possible prelude to the European qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, in which Armenia have made a perfect start, winning their opening three games in the last week of March to lead Group J.

"We’ve begun the qualifiers with a lot of enthusiasm but remain conscious of how tough our group is. We’ve started well, but we're keeping our feet on the ground. We’re in with teams like Romania, Iceland, North Macedonia, and especially Germany, which are very strong. That’s where we find ourselves, but we’re hopeful and excited, and no one can take that away from us," Caparros says.

The 65-year-old knows it is a time for calm heads, especially when you look back at what has happened so far in the evenly matched Group J. "Being in a group that throws up crazy results is good for us, but we know it’ll still be very difficult. We’re talking about teams with a lot of [good] players and a great deal of history, like Germany, who are always favourites."

However, when asked about specific objectives, Caparros is not prepared to look beyond September. "We have to take it one game at a time and see how far we can go. We’re not playing again [in the qualifiers] until September, so we'll see how the players are doing. We’re relying on our strength as a team as well as mental fortitude."

And while he has only been in charge of Armenia for ten games, the Spanish coach has hit it off really well in the eastern European country. "From the start, everyone’s been empathetic, from the president down to the coaching staff. It's a joy to go to team gatherings and be with the lads, because they're so committed."

Caparros has only good things to say about his day-to-day work with the national team. "We have an amazing academy. There are ten football pitches here, all maintained superbly, and a residential building with luxury rooms. Everything you need... We're very comfortable," he says.

Norberto Briasco (L) of Armenia vies with Ari Skulason of Iceland during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, WM, Weltmeisterschaft, Fussball qualification match between Armenia and Iceland in Yerevan, Armenia, March 28, 2021.

But surely for a Spanish coach in Armenia, the language barrier is a problem? "Within the squad we speak four languages: Russian, Armenian, English and Spanish," Caparros tells FIFA.com, insisting it has not been an issue: "There’s very fluid communication, and furthermore football is a universal language. When the whistle blows, everyone understands each other. This non-verbal communication has been fundamental."

We finished by asking this native Andalusian what it would mean for Armenia to reach a major tournament like the EURO or World Cup. "Just winning promotion in the Nations League was very emotional, so I can only imagine what it would be like… However, I’ve not even thought about it. I've been in football for many years, so I know we have to take it one step at a time. So let the people of Armenia enjoy the victories, and let us focus on our working methods," he concludes.

Caparros is clearly proud of this Armenia team and the work they have done, so it will be fascinating to see just how far they can go together.

FIFA World Cup 2022™ media rights awarded in Italy
FIFA World Cup 2022™ media rights awarded in Italy
9 Apr 2021

Generic TV camera gantry.

Following the tender process for the Italian media rights to the FIFA World Cup 2022™, FIFA has awarded the exclusive rights to the competition to Rai, the Italian national public service broadcaster.

Rai has been awarded multi-platform rights across television, digital and radio, and will provide an extremely strong broadcast platform for the tournament. In addition to making all 64 matches available live in the territory, Rai will also offer extensive support programming, including highlights and magazine programming. At least 28 matches of the tournament, including the opening match, final and both semi-finals, will be shown on the broadcaster’s flagship channel, Rai 1, meeting FIFA’s objectives of providing large exposure for its competitions.

The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ will be the 22nd edition of the competition, and it will be particularly unique as the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East and the first to take place in November/December. With ultra-modern venues, optimal playing conditions and a compact event footprint, the host nation will provide a unique platform to celebrate the game and its ability to connect and inspire people around the world. The tournament will follow the traditional format, with 32 participating teams and 64 matches, offering a highly competitive group stage followed by an exciting knockout phase.

FIFA’s Director of Media Rights & Content Services, Jean-Christophe Petit, said, “After a very competitive tender process, we are pleased to have concluded a deal with a strong media partner in Italy for the FIFA World Cup 2022. We look forward to working with Rai to make this unique FIFA World Cup a great success and create an unforgettable experience for all Italian fans.”

Rights to the FIFA World Cup 2022™ are still available in certain territories. FIFA launched a tender for the competition’s media rights in Greece earlier this month, which is due to close on Tuesday, 20 April.

Through the sale of media rights for its tournaments, FIFA generates income which is essential to support and develop football around the world, for instance through the FIFA Forward Development Programme.

Brahimi stars in Qatar 2022 Magazine Show
Brahimi stars in Qatar 2022 Magazine Show
8 Apr 2021

Welcome to the third episode of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Magazine Show, coming to YouTube every month.

This month, we look back on the 2021 Qatar Cup final, which saw Sabri Lamouchi's Al Duhail come up against Xavi's Al Saad.

We also discover the golf course just a stone's throw from a Qatar 2022 stadium, reflect on the growth of women's sports in Qatar and meet the Spanish chef who has a taste for football.

And we hear from Al Rayyan SC captain Yacine Brahimi on his hopes of Algeria making a return to the FIFA World Cup for the first time since Brazil 2014.

Taylor: Montserrat ready to send shockwaves through world football
Taylor: Montserrat ready to send shockwaves through world football
1 Apr 2021

MFA Training 11 - Copyright BOL Football

  • Montserrat captain Lyle Taylor speaks with FIFA.com
  • He talks about the Emerald Boys' historic 1-1 draw with El Salvador
  • "It's massive to get the result, but there's more to come from us"

Montserrat 1- 1 El Salvador.

Perhaps it is a scoreline lost in the deluge of FIFA World Cup™ qualifying results and storylines from the past week. But it is by far one of the most significant results of the 108 qualifiers that were played in the past week.

Montserrat, an island with a population hovering just around 5,000 and ranked 183rd in the world, punched above their weight on two occasions. First, they drew 2-2 with Antigua and Barbuda on 24 March, a team 57 places above them on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.

But the real headliner was to come four days later in Willemstad, on the island of Curaçao. Trailing 1-0 in the 89th minute against El Salvador - a nation who have featured at two World Cups and sit 113 places above them - Lyle Taylor fulfilled his role as the team’s talisman and delivered in the crucial moment, just as he had done by scoring both goals against Antigua. Timing his run to perfection, Taylor latched onto Jamie Allen's cross and headed in the equaliser.

After two heartbreaking defeats to El Salvador in the Concacaf Nations League - Taylor was unable to play on both occasions - the third time was indeed the charm. The celebrations were fitting of a World Cup Final. And even better, his young brother Joey, who he seldom gets to play alongside his sibling, was on the pitch when for the decisive goal [Editor's note: Another pair of brothers play on the team in Brandon and James Comley].

Nearly 9,000 kilometres away from the Lewandowskis, Kanes and Gnabrys of the world scoring on the same day in somewhat routine wins, history was made.

As the 70th-ranked team in the world, El Salvador is the highest-ranked side Montserrat have ever drawn against, and by some distance. Curaçao were ranked 159th when they drew in Russia 2018 qualifiers and Antigua are currently 126th.

FIFA.com caught up with Montserrat's man of the hour, who was back in Nottingham fresh off a cross-Pacific flight from Curacao via an eight-hour layover in Amsterdam, to put the achievement into context and to learn where their ambitions lie next.

FIFA.com: Lyle, this past week of World Cup qualifying must be up there in terms of career highlights for you, is that right?

Lyle Taylor: It’s definitely up there. I’ve been at the training ground at Nottingham Forest and everyone’s been asking me how it was, and it’s just so different from my day-to-day footballing job. I get to play with my brother and with, I call them “brothers”. We are a family. The majority of the group have been together for about six years. It’s definitely special.

I’d be lying if I said it wasn't more special than club football because it’s representing where I’m from and where my family have been and everything that makes us “us” as a family. It is very, very special and to be able to captain a country and walk the boys out and to go to war as we do every time we step on the pitch is a special feeling.

What’s your feeling of how Montserrat performed in your first two qualifiers, now that you’re back home and had some time to reflect?

The instant feeling was that we should’ve beaten Antigua and we expected to. And I mean this in no demeaning or derogatory way of Antigua and their national team, but we expect to beat them. So for us that’s a disappointment. We thought if we went out there and did everything possible that we could beat El Salvador, who are over a 100 places above us, so I think that says a lot about how far we’ve come.

We’re not going into these games as whipping boys. We’ve got enough in this dressing room to win, so let’s go out there and show everyone that we’re good enough. We know the World Cup in Qatar is pie in the sky. That is a long way from this. We’ve got a lot of work to do just to get to the next qualifying group before the impossible dream of getting there, let’s be honest. Little ol’ Montserrat getting to the group qualifying stages would be massive. But that’s where we want to get.

Lyle Taylor

People may look at two draws in the standings and not think much of that, but can you put those results into context and describe what they mean to the island?

I made my debut six years ago last week in Curacao against Curacao. Arguably we should’ve beat them. We were unlucky then. We had a period of inactivity for about three or four years and we’ve come back ready to prove a point. I’d like to take the last three years and say where are now compared to where we’ve been is streets ahead. Ninety per cent of that is down to Mr. Cassell (Montserrat FA President Vincent Cassell). The work he’s put in and the effort he’s made to allow us to simply play and to get to the position where we are expecting to win games is amazing and that’s down to him and what he’s put in.

As captain I’m privy to everything that goes on behind the scenes. I can’t overstate how hard Mr. Cassell works, and there’s a lot to come. It’s amazing what I’ve seen this team start as and turn in to. Down to the smallest things like kits. We used to wear FIFA-donated kits and now have a sponsorship with Bol. The new kit is amazing and it’s special to us and what we are as the Emerald Boys. Everything from that to the dormitories being built at the stadium, the standard of the pitch and facilities we’re given and hotels we stay in when we go away is 100 per cent down to him. He waited over 40 years to see us win a game, and we’ve done that in recent years.

What the boys have put in is unbelievable. Bear in mind we’ve had a lockdown for football below step 2 for about five or six months. We have over half our squad playing at that level. They’ve not been able to play or train for that period of time and they still turn up and bust their balls and get the results. It is absolutely unbelievable. We’ve had so many obstacles thrown at us and it almost feels like there are powers that don’t want us to succeed, but we are going to make it to a major championship, whether that’s a Gold Cup or the next stage of World Cup qualifying. When we do make it, it’s going to send shockwaves through world football.

The standout result was of course the draw against El Salvador with you scoring in the last minute. Is that your finest moment in your career, or at least up there?

I’ve played in front of some big crowds at Wembley and I’ve got a lot to be thankful for, but there is nothing like playing with family and we are all a family in the national team. To pick up a point against an El Salvador team, that really we have no right to be going toe-to-toe with, is massive. To do it the day before my birthday was a perfect storm and I’m so thankful that six years ago I accepted the call to be a part of this.

What does getting a point off El Salvador do for the team from a mental standpoint?

This is the first time I’ve played against them. The boys were telling me how tough it would be, and I was thinking about the games we played against teams that had beaten us big before, and you turn up and you graft and you give it absolutely everything and you get a result because that’s how football works. We were still confident. It’s always going to be in the back of some people’s minds, especially when you concede late goals to a team that, let’s be honest, are superior.

To be able to go out there, stand toe-to-toe and give away a poor goal by our standards, and to dominate the second half as we did is just amazing. It’s a taste of their own medicine to them because of what they’ve done to us previously. It’s massive to get that result, but there’s more. The next time we play, we will be winning.

What does it mean to you to represent Montserrat?

From the level of football I’ve come from here in the UK to the level I’m at now, I was never going to be called up for England. It was never an option. The day I got the message I was on the train on the way up to Sheffield playing for Scunthorpe United at the time in League One. My dad and I had been talking about it that weekend and joking how Joey, my little brother, could play left-back, I’ll play up front and my dad could go in goal! And that weekend I got the message asking about my Montserratian heritage. As soon as I was asked, the answer was ‘yes’. It was a chance to represent where my grandparents are from and I was never, ever going to say no to that.

How much pride do you have in being a central figure on this team and in perhaps taking Montserrat to the next level of World Cup qualifying or a major tournament?

I don’t think anything I’ve done in life would be bigger than that achievement. That’s how big it would be and how high it would rank on my list. That would be the best thing ever. I’d give so much for us to be able to play in the latter stages of World Cup qualifying. If it’s the biggest highlight in my career, it would be up there at the very, very top for the other boys. That’s what it would mean, and there’s only one way for it to happen and we have to go out and make it happen, so we’ve got some work to do.

Montserrat have a team talk in training - Copyright BOL Football

Five things we learned from World Cup qualifying
Five things we learned from World Cup qualifying
1 Apr 2021

Austria v Denmark - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier

  • There were some spectacular results in qualifying for Qatar 2022
  • Some surprise standouts emerged in on either side of the Atlantic
  • Read on for insight and analysis from the past week

The big boys can be beaten

Although several favourites still recorded comfortable wins, most notably Japan’s 14-0 triumph in Mongolia, several matches threw up surprising results.

Few would have predicted that the Netherlands would lose 4-2 to Turkey in their opening FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifier. Having looked unstoppable after their 6-0 rout of Germany in the UEFA Nations League last autumn, Spain toiled to secure a 1-1 draw with Greece, before only beating Georgia 2-1 thanks to an injury-time winner.

Burak Yilmaz puts Turkey 2-0 up against the Netherlands from the penalty spot

The 2018 FIFA World Cup™ Finalists had perhaps the most stuttering start of all, with Russia 2018 runners-up Croatia suffering a 1-0 defeat to Slovenia in their first qualifier, while reigning champions France dropped two points with a 1-1 home draw against Ukraine.

Most surprisingly of all, four-time winners Germany slumped to a 2-1 loss to North Macedonia in Duisburg. Joachim Low’s men had already shown signs of weakness in their 1-0 win in Romania, and this latest shock setback suggests they have not yet overcome the issues that led to their heavy 6-0 defeat at the hands of Spain last autumn.

Concacaf sides hitting new heights

Europe is not the only place where the game’s "minnows" seem increasingly well equipped to cause problems for bigger teams, as ongoing development work also seems to be paying off in other regions.

British overseas territory Montserrat, home to just under 6,000 people, held overwhelming favourites El Salvador to a 1-1 draw and are still unbeaten in qualifying, while Puerto Rico also shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw with former World Cup participants Trinidad and Tobago. Observers attribute this improvement in performance to factors such as the Concacaf Nations League, which offers more opportunities for teams to develop in competitive conditions.

"I'm very proud of this group. We've talked a lot about not playing with fear. The takeaway from this is: we're a young team that has great potential," said Puerto Rico coach Dave Sarachan. "We're not happy we drew, but we're pleased that we were prepared, and that the group competed. It keeps us in the hunt."

Denmark rotating their way to success

Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand has followed a policy of total rotation during the Scandinavians’ opening three World Cup qualifiers. After beginning their campaign with a 2-0 win over Israel, he changed all ten outfield players for the match against Moldova, with only goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel making a second successive start.

His move paid off with a free-scoring 8-0 win from a Danish team that is generally more attack-minded than that of his predecessor Age Hareide. But did this record-breaking result earn anyone a spot in the starting line-up for the next game against Austria? Not a bit of it – Hjulmand once again rotated all ten outfield players en route to a 4-0 victory in Vienna.

Rotation record

  • Matches: 3
  • Wins: 3
  • Goals scored: 14
  • Goals conceded: 0
  • Players used: 21
  • Goalscorers: 11

Spain have Pedri… and a striker problem

The list of supertalented Spanish youngsters seems endless. Just a year after Ansu Fati’s heralded arrival onto the world stage, all eyes are Barcelona’s 18-year-old midfielder Pedri, who featured for his country in all three of their World Cup qualifiers, making two starts along the way, and already appears to be a key part of Luis Enrique’s plans for the national side.

A familiar problem also seems to have re-emerged for the Spanish. While their possession and passing is as impressive as ever, they lack the necessary aggression and penetration in front of goal. What’s more, there does not appear to be any sign of a prolific attacker who can consistently capitalise on the apparent dominance of Enrique’s team.

Curaçao daring to dream under Hiddink

He guided Korea Republic and the Netherlands to World Cup semi-finals and won the UEFA Champions League. Now Guus Hiddink has been appointed national team coach of the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao, population 150,000.

He has made a flying start with his new side, recording a 5-0 victory over St. Vincent and the Grenadines followed by a 2-1 win over Cuba.

"If people ask: 'Are we going to the World Cup?' then I say: 'Yes, we’re going to the World Cup.' What else can I say? We are going to do everything we can. The ambition is there and it would be fantastic if Curaçao makes it to the World Cup," said Hiddink.

Individuals who impressed

Qatar 2022 postage stamps to deliver FIFA World Cup™ delight worldwide
Qatar 2022 postage stamps to deliver FIFA World Cup™ delight worldwide
1 Apr 2021

Qatar 2022 postage stamps

Fans of the beautiful game now have the chance to collect little pieces of football history after the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Philatelic Programme launched with the promise of delivering commemorative postage stamps to a worldwide audience.

The stamps will celebrate the first-class features of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, including the state-of-the-art stadiums and the stunning capital city of Doha, as well as the Official Mascot, the Official Poster and the fascinating history of Qatari football.

Further designs highlighting the heritage of the FIFA World Cup™ will be released next year, helping to send vivid football stories across the globe as the clock ticks down to the tournament’s big kick-off on 21 November 2022.

The programme’s first stamps were unveiled on 1 April, giving fans a tantalising taste of what to expect when the world’s best footballers congregate in Qatar next year for an enthralling month of action.

Enthusiasts worldwide will be able to collect a range of memorable designs over the coming months through FIFA Branded Licensee MDM Münzhandelsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG Deutsche Münze.

In the tournament’s host country, the stamps will be distributed by Qatar Post for mailing purposes, as well as for collectors, ensuring the anticipation and joy sparked by the tournament are shared day in, day out.

The stamps will increase awareness and buzz in the build-up to Qatar 2022, while after the tournament, they will take collectors on a nostalgic journey back through an iconic FIFA World Cup.

“In Qatar, the FIFA World Cup Philatelic Programme will allow people to share their excitement on a daily basis,” said FIFA’s Head of Licensing & Retail, Sarah Bohner.

“The striking designs will provide locals with a daily reminder of the game-changing global football spectacle that is on the horizon. For collectors around the world, the stamps will build anticipation ahead of Qatar 2022 and inspire memories that will last a lifetime.”

World Cup qualifiers: Wednesday's scores and stats
World Cup qualifiers: Wednesday's scores and stats
31 Mar 2021

European World Cup qualifiers: 31 March
Ilkay Gundogan of Germany looks dejected during the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar qualifying match between Germany and North Macedonia at Schauinsland-Reisen-Arena
Germany v North Macedonia - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Germany v North Macedonia - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Germany v North Macedonia - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Serhiy Sydorchuk of Ukraine celebrates with Oleksandr Zinchenko and team mates after scoring their side's first goal during the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar qualifying match between France and Ukraine on March 24, 2021 in Paris, France.
Lithuania v Italy - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Spain v Kosovo - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Spain v Kosovo - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Germany v North Macedonia - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Austria v Denmark - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
England v Poland - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Andorra v Hungary - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Germany v North Macedonia - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Harry Kane of England scores e penalty
Ivaylo Chochev of Bulgaria passes the ball under pressure from Paddy McNair of Northern Ireland
John McGinn celebrates scoring for Scotland with Kieran Tierney and Scott McTominay 
Mason Mount of England battles for possession with Piotr Zielinski of Poland
England v Poland - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Northern Ireland v Bulgaria - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Germany v North Macedonia - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Spain v Kosovo - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Austria v Denmark - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Andorra v Hungary - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
England v Poland - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Germany v North Macedonia - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Andorra v Hungary - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Germany v North Macedonia - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
  • A busy week of World Cup qualifying came to a close in Europe
  • North Macedonia's win in Germany was the shock result of the day
  • Armenia, Denmark, England and Italy only teams left with perfect starts

UEFA (All matches)

Results

Group B

Spain 3-1 Kosovo

Spain leapfrogged Sweden to go top of Group B. Spain’s stoppage-time hero from their 2-1 win over Georgia, Dani Olmo, opened the scoring and found the top corner with a beautiful, curled shot. Ferran Torres had Spain up by two just a minute later with a laser-accurate, low and driven finish that kissed the post before going in. Besar Halimi gave La Roja a real scare when he scored a bizarre goal, stripping Unai Simon of the ball nearly at the halfway line and scoring from well over 40 yards. However, the in-form Villarreal striker Gerard Moreno restored Luis Enrique's side's two-goal cushion 15 minutes from time with a near-post header from a corner kick.

  • Did you know? Spain extended their unbeaten run in World Cup qualifying matches to 66 games (W52 D14) - their last defeat in a World Cup qualifier was all the way back on 31 March 1993 when they lost 1-0 against Denmark.

Greece 1-1 Georgia

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s wonder goal earned Georgia a 1-1 draw in Greece in Group B. A game of few opportunities swung the Greeks way when Otar Kakabadze, attempting to put the ball out for a corner, volleyed it into his own net in the 76th minute. Within minutes, however, 20-year-old Kvaratskhelia continued his fine form by dribbling past two opponents and finding the bottom corner.

  • Did you know? Greece have lost just one of their last 14 matches and are unbeaten in their last eight games. Draws, however, make up 50 per cent of that latter run.

Group C

Lithuania 0-2 Italy

A much-changed Italy made it three straight 2-0 wins by easing past Lithuania in Vilnius. Stefano Sensi broke the deadlock three minutes after coming on at half-time for his third goal in eight internationals, and a Ciro Immobile penalty deep into injury time sealed victory. Italy top Group C, three points above Switzerland, who have a game in hand.

  • Did you know? Italy have lost only two of their last 42 World Cup qualifying matches. The Azzurri are unbeaten in their last 25 matches in all competitions (W20 D5). They have also won each of their last six matches without conceding a goal and the most recent five matches by the same scoreline of 2-0.

Northern Ireland 0-0 Bulgaria

Northern Ireland’s winless run continued after a goalless draw with Bulgaria that advanced neither team’s chances of reaching Qatar 2022. The hosts had the best of the game’s few chances, and came within millimetres of an opener in the first half when Leeds United’s Stuart Dallas headed against the crossbar. But ultimately there was no way through for either side.

  • Did you know? Northern Ireland are now winless in their last eight matches and have failed to score in any of their last five World Cup qualifiers.

Group D

Bosnia and Herzegovina 0-1 France

The world champions endured a tough night but came away from Sarajevo with all three points and extended their lead at the top of the group. Antoine Griezmann scored the lone goal, his 35th for his country, in the 60th minute, guiding in a well-placed header from Adrien Rabiot's cross. Griezmann has now played in 46 consecutive games for France; the last time he did not feature was on 13 June 2017.

  • Did you know? France have now won each of their last eight away games in all competitions, seven of those without conceding a goal.

Ukraine 1-1 Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan claimed a famous point in Kiev, while the hosts have started their Qatar 2022 qualifiers with three consecutive 1-1 draws. Oleksandr Zinchenko dribbled at the heart of the Kazakhstan defence before releasing Roman Yaremchuk, who curled a shot into the bottom corner. Kazakhstan equalised on the other side of half-time out of nowhere. Serikzan Muzhikov guided home a shot from just inside the penalty area to ensure they would be leaving with their first point of the current campaign.

  • Did you know? Ukraine have won just one of their last six World Cup qualifiers.

Group F

Austria 0-4 Denmark

Group F leaders Denmark continued their hugely impressive start to Qatar 2022 qualifying with a second-half goal spree in Austria. There had been little to separate the sides – first and second in Group F at kick-off – before Andreas Skov Olsen fired high into the net 12 minutes into the second half. But that led to a flurry of four goals in the space of just 16 minutes, with Joakim Maehle and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg on target before Olsen completed his double as Austria’s defence fell apart.

  • Did you know? Denmark are now unbeaten in their last 12 World Cup qualifying matches and have conceded just five goals during that sequence.

Scotland 4-0 Faroe Islands

John McGinn was the goal hero again as Scotland claimed their first win of the Qatar 2022 qualifiers and moved up to second place in Group F. The Aston Villa midfielder, who scored a spectacular overhead kick in the Scots’ 2-2 draw with Austria, swept home Kieran Tierney’s cutback to settle any early nerves and made sure of victory with a firm header from another excellent Tierney centre. Che Adams then opened his international account in just his second start for Clarke’s team and Ryan Fraser nodded home from Andrew Robertson’s pinpoint cross.

  • Did you know? Scotland are now unbeaten in their last nine World Cup qualifiers.

Moldova 1-4 Israel

Israel kickstarted their Group F campaign with an emphatic 4-1 win in Moldova that moved them on to four points from three games. Catalin Carp gave the hosts the lead, but Eran Zahavi equalised on the stroke of half-time. Moldova’s Ion Nicolaescu was sent off shortly after the restart, and three goals within nine minutes - courtesy of Manor Solomon, Munas Dabbur and Bebras Natcho - powered Israel to victory.

  • Did you know? Denmark are unbeaten in their last 12 World Cup qualifying matches (W8 D3) and have conceded just five goals during this sequence. The Danes have also won each of their last six away World Cup qualifying matches for the first time in their history.

Group I

England 2-1 Poland

Harry Maguire’s late strike snatched England a 2-1 win over Poland at Wembley that moved them on to nine points from three games. Harry Kane assuredly scored a penalty earned by Raheem Sterling to give the 1966 world champions a 19th-minute lead, but after a mistake by John Stones just before the hour, Jakub Moder levelled with a fierce finish from close range. Stones made amends from a late corner, heading the ball back to Maguire, whose strike through a crowd proved too powerful for Wojciech Szczesny to keep out.

  • Did you know? England have now won 23 and drawn two of their last 25 World Cup qualifiers at home since losing to Germany in 2000. Greece and Ukraine are the only teams to come away with a point during this period of time.

Andorra 1-4 Hungary

Hungary made it two wins on the bounce with victory in Andorra La Vella. Attila Fiola headed the visitors in front seconds before the half-time whistle. Daniel Gazdag and Laszlo Kleinheisler put Hungary three goals clear early in the second half before Loic Nego made it four in the 90th minute. Andorra grabbed a consolation penalty, converted by captain Marc Pujol.

  • Did you know? Hungary are unbeaten in their last nine matches. 

San Marino 0-2 Albania

Albania bounced back from defeat by England with a victory in Serravalle, but they had to be patient. Rey Manaj headed in the opener in the 63rd minute before Myrto Uzuni was alert and finished from close range with five minutes remaining. Tougher tests await Edy Reja's side with Poland and Hungary to come in September.

  • Did you know? Albania are unbeaten in their last six competitive away games and have not conceded a single goal during that run.

Group J

Armenia 3-2 Romania

Armenia came from behind to win a thrilling contest with Romania and continue their stunning start to Qatar 2022 qualifying. The goals all came in a breathtaking second half, which burst into life when the hosts’ Eduard Spertsyan drifted forward unopposed and beat Florin Nita from 25 yards – albeit with the aid of a wicked deflection. Romania recovered well though, and turned the scoreline on its head through a quickfire double from Alexandru Cicaldau. But the match turned again on a red card for George Puscas following a reckless high challenge, and the noisy home crowd exploded thanks to two goals in the final three minutes – a header from captain Varazdat Haroyan and a coolly dispatched Tigran Barseghyan penalty.

  • Did you know? Armenia have now won three successive World Cup qualifiers for the first time in their history and remain perched above Germany at the summit of Group J.

Germany 1-2 North Macedonia

North Macedonia produced the biggest upset of European's Qatar 2022 qualifiers thus far with a famous win away to Germany. Goran Pandev finished off a delightful team move to stun the Brazil 2014 winners just before the break, but Ilkay Gundogan’s penalty restored parity in the 63rd minute. After Timo Werner had missed a golden chance to put Germany ahead, Eljif Elmas pounced to seize North Macedonia one of their best-ever results.

  • Did you know? North Macedonia are only the second team to score more than one goal in an away World Cup qualifier in Germany since England in Sept 2001, Sweden being the other in 4-4 draw in October 2012.

Liechtenstein 1-4 Iceland

Iceland ended a seven-match losing run and revived their Qatar 2022 hopes with a comfortable win in Liechtenstein. The Icelanders, who made their World Cup debut in 2018, had enjoyed a miserable start to the current qualifying campaign but their nerves were settled inside 12 minutes of kick-off when Birkir Saevarsson put them ahead. The visitors completely dominated thereafter and made sure of the points when Birkir Bjarnason doubled their advantage just before half-time. Victor Palsson and Runar Sigurjonsson added to the scoreline late on, rendering Yanik Frick’s effort for the hosts a mere consolation.

  • Did you know? Liechtenstein have lost each of their last 17 World Cup qualifiers.

Larsson: Sweden have some tremendously gifted youngsters
Larsson: Sweden have some tremendously gifted youngsters
30 Mar 2021

Sebastian Larsson of Sweden

In recent weeks, the headlines in the Swedish press have been all about the return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifying, five years after he announced his international retirement in the wake of the UEFA EURO.

Sebastian Larsson was one Zlatan’s team-mates at France 2016, where the Blagult failed to make the knockout phase after finishing bottom of Group E. Thirty-one at the time and already an international for eight years, it would not have been a surprise had Larsson also called time with Sweden.

Shortly after that tournament came the appointment of new head coach Janne Andersson, who made Larsson one of the cornerstones of his team as he looked to give them fresh impetus. It proved a winning gamble, with the Swedes reaching the Russia 2018 quarter-finals – their best World Cup performance since USA 1994.

Blessed with natural leadership, composure and skill with the ball at his feet, Larsson is, at 35, still indispensable to the team. Moreover, he wore the captain's armband during the opening qualifiers for Qatar 2022, as Sweden kicked off their Group B campaign with two wins.

In conversation with FIFA.com, the midfielder talks freely about his country's ambitions. He also reminisces about the 17 years he spent in England, where he had spells with Arsenal, Birmingham City, Sunderland and Hull City, and shares his memories of training with Thierry Henry and his pride at pulling on Sweden’s famous yellow jersey more than 120 times.

FIFA.com: You joined AIK in 2018 at the age of 33, having spent your entire senior career in England. Did you want to experience the league championship in your homeland before hanging up your boots?

Sebastian Larsson: It's something I was thinking about more and more as I got older. I went to England when I was 16 and stayed there for 17 years. I became increasingly curious about how I’d feel playing at the highest level in Sweden. That feeling became stronger and stronger as my career went on, and when the opportunity arose, I felt it was the right time. And I’ve been really enjoying it since I got home.

In your first season back, you helped AIK win the championship. Was it important to return while you still had something to contribute to AIK and not just to enjoy the twilight of your career?

Of course. When I first started thinking about coming back, I really didn't want to leave it too late or for it to be about taking it easy and winding down my career. I wanted to be good enough to help the team and make sure that I could contribute to its success, while I still had my ambition and a hunger to win

AIKs Sebastian Larsson cheers with Henok Goitom and Bilal Husein

You debuted with the Arsenal first team in 2004. What did it feel like to sit in a changing room with the likes of Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp, Gilberto Silva and Freddy Ljungberg at 19?

This was an extraordinary period at Arsenal. Without exception, all those players were of the highest quality – and I mean in every position. For me, as a youngster trying to launch my career, having the opportunity to train with those players was simply amazing. Of course, I'm not going to lie, I was very nervous at first. I didn't want to mess up a pass for Henry, I wanted to lay it on for him perfectly. The things I learned from this group were incredible. Their mentality, their quality on the pitch, the way they worked hard in training... they were completely focused. Today, at 35, when I look back at my young self in that environment, I think it was absolutely perfect. Obviously, it was extremely difficult to get game time in that team or entire matches. But if we're talking about football education, I don't think I could have done any better, because at that time Arsenal were one of the best teams in Europe.

Now, a decade-and-a-half later, you’re the experienced player with the impressive career. Do you see differences between the player you were back then and the young pros you share a dressing room with today?

A lot is different. Football, like society, has changed, which is normal. You cannot expect to remain the same all this time, while society evolves. Young players today are extremely serious about their profession, especially in terms of off-field activities. Now you think about what you eat from an early age, how to look after yourself, how many hours you sleep... In that regard, it’s a great step forward. However, when I first managed to make a senior team, it was a bit different. In a way, we had to earn that right. I knew that I was still young, that I had to help the team and kind of be of service to the older players. That's how you developed and became a full-fledged team player. You can find positives and negatives when you compare the two eras, but in the end, football takes its lead from society.

Willo Flood of Manchester City evades Sebastian Larsson of Arsenal

Looking back, what advice would you give to the young Sebastian Larsson set to make his Sweden debut in 2008?

I’d tell him to try to enjoy every moment. I've been very lucky to be in the national team for so long and, when I look back, this first appearance remains a special moment. But I’ve loved every minute I’ve been involved – it's such an honour. So, I’d tell this young man to appreciate everything, especially at the start, but also to try to learn from players who have more experience, whether in matches or training, and take away some small things. When you're young, international players who’ve been around for a long time can really help. And that's what I've always tried to do.

Thirteen years later, you’re now wearing the captain’s armband and have more than 120 caps. Are you aware that you’re now part of national team history?

It's a great honour, something I'm very proud of. I remember when I won my 100th cap. It was a special moment, because there are only a few players to have reached that milestone. But I've always been the kind of player who tries not to look back – at least while I'm still active and able to look to the future. But when the end does come, it’ll surely be something I can reminisce on with immense pride.

At Russia 2018, Sweden were eliminated by England in the quarter-finals. What feelings did that produce: pride at being among the top eight teams in the world or disappointment at not going further?

A little bit of both. It was already a great accomplishment. I don't think a lot of people expected us to reach the quarter-finals of a World Cup. It was a fantastic experience. But when you get that far, you still want to go further, so it was a big disappointment to be knocked out. And the most disappointing thing is that we had the quality to go on, but we didn't perform to the level required of a World Cup quarter-final. England deserved to win that game, but when you're only one game away from having a chance to play for a medal, it's painful to come up short so close to your goal. But overall, we’re proud of what we accomplished.

Three years on, Sweden will be appearing at this summer’s EURO but finished bottom of their group in the UEFA Nations League 2020/21. Has the team progressed or regressed in recent years?

I’d say we’ve became a better team. Some tremendously gifted young players have come into the squad and given us fresh impetus. Competition for places today is as intense as it has been in a very long time. You’ll find our players right across Europe’s top leagues and performing well, which can only lead to improvements. Of course, we finished last in our Nations League group, but we were competing against the best teams: France, Portugal and Croatia. Playing against teams of that calibre is not something we’re used to, but these are the kind of games that teach you a lot. We have to try different things to find solutions and learn how to close the gap and compete. However, we also need to learn what not to do. We quickly realised that, even if we’re dominating a game, if we open things up a little too much, then these teams will immediately punish you. Teams like Sweden need to learn this when they play against the world’s top sides, as they make you pay for every mistake.

Can you put those lessons to use in Qatar 2022 qualifying and emulate what you achieved in 2018?

It’s an indispensable starting point. You always need to have that mindset of learning from things you’ve done and putting it to use, of wanting to do better than before if you want to improve. Otherwise you’ll never accomplish anything. At best, you’ll stay at the same level. We know how difficult it is and how many good teams are in contention, so we have to repeatedly perform at our best. The good thing is that we’ve demonstrated over the last two years that, from time to time, we have what it takes to compete with the best teams. We can make it difficult for them. That’s the primary lesson we need to take with us for our squad to keep progressing.

For you personally, would participating at Qatar 2022 be the ideal way to bring the curtain down on your long international career?

First there’s the European Championship, which is a major tournament and the primary objective for now. But to be honest, I've never tried to look too far ahead, and even less so at my age. [International retirement] might not be too far away, but I haven't decided anything yet, and I don't want to think about it yet.

You're at an age where you don't want to look too far ahead, but do you ever look back and think about what you might do differently if you could relive your career?

Going back in time can be beautiful, but also dangerous. I'm sure you can always find something you could do differently. I decided to leave Sweden at a young age, but I’m proud of the career I’ve had so far. I've played in a league I dreamed of as a kid, the Premier League, and played there for a long time. I’ve always managed to maintain my physical condition, which is why I haven’t had any major injuries. I’ve been able to have a great career, especially with the national team, with whom I’ve played many games. The last World Cup was a success and an important moment for me personally. So I prefer to be proud of everything I've achieved, rather than think of at what I could have done.

World Cup qualifiers: Tuesday's scores and stats
World Cup qualifiers: Tuesday's scores and stats
30 Mar 2021

Luxembourg v Portugal - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier

  • All the live scores, results and news from Tuesday's Qatar 2022 qualifiers
  • Big wins for Belgium and the Netherlands as Slovakia shock Russia
  • Japan and Saudi Arabia dazzle; Concacaf matches bookend the matchday

UEFA (All matches)

Results

Turkey 3-3 Latvia

  • Latvia battled back snatch a 3-3 draw in Istanbul and end Turkey’s 100-per-cent record in Group G. Kenan Karaman and Hakan Calhanoglu had the hosts 2-0 ahead, but Roberts Savaļnieks pulled one back before half-time. Burak Yilmaz’s penalty shortly after the restart restored Turkey’s two-goal lead, but goals from Roberts Uldriķis and Davis Ikaunieks secured Latvia’s first point of the campaign.

Luxembourg 1-3 Portugal

  • Portugal came from behind to beat Luxembourg 3-1 away and make it seven points from a possible nine in Group A. Gerson Rodrigues, who was immense from the outset, scored a magnificent diving header to stun a team 93 places above Luxembourg on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. However, close-range goals from Diogo Jota and Cristiano Ronaldo either side of the break swung the game in Portugal’s favour, before substitute Joao Palhinha sealed victory.

Slovakia 2-1 Russia

  • Slovakia got their campaign up and running with victory over 2018 hosts Russia in Trnava. Milan Skriniar powered in a header from a corner kick minutes before half-time to put the home side in front. Mario Fernandes equalised for Stanislav Cherchesov’s charges, but Robert Mak produced a moment of individual brilliance and scored the winner to leave things wide open in Group H.

Belgium 8-0 Belarus

  • Three first-time international scorers helped Belgium cruise past Belarus to go top of Group E. Jeremy Doku slid in Michy Batshuayi, who crashed in a shot at the near post for the opener. Hans Vanaken doubled the Red Devils’ lead moments later with his first international goal and then Leandro Trossard opened his account with the goal of the evening, a thunderbolt from 25 yards. Doku got his name on the scoresheet before half-time when Dennis Praet found him with a perfectly-timed through ball and the 18-year-old did the rest, finishing like a seasoned veteran. Dennis Praet continued the theme less than five minutes into the second half by grabbing his first international goal, driving in a long-range strike. Christian Benteke came off the bench to make it six, guiding in Toby Alderweireld’s early cross. Trossard and Vanaken both doubled their personal tallies on a night that Aleksandr Gutor will want to forget in a hurry.

Gibraltar 0-7 Netherlands

  • A burst of four goals in the space of ten second-half minutes eased the Netherlands to a comfortable victory in Gibraltar and kept them within touching distance of Group G leaders Turkey. The Dutch toiled during a frustrating first half and were indebted to Steven Berghuis – a star in their win over Latvia – for belatedly settling nerves with another well-taken left-foot finish. Berghuis then turned provider to tee up Luuk de Jong to score in his third successive international game, and polish was added to the scoreline by a Memphis Depay double and close-range finishes from Georginio Wijnaldum, Donyell Malen and Donny van de Beek.

Wales 1-0 Czech Republic

  • Daniel James headed home a late winner as Wales edged out Czech Republic in a tense match in which both sides were reduced to ten men. Gareth Bale set up the all-important goal with a superb left-foot cross, atoning for having missed the best of precious few chances in Cardiff. Patrik Schick had earlier been shown a direct red card for lashing out at Connor Roberts, who himself was handed his marching orders soon after following a second cautionable offence. Wales are now unbeaten in their last 12 home matches.

Montenegro 0-1 Norway

  • Norway bounced back from their bruising defeat to Turkey by grinding out a hard-fought 1-0 win in Podgorica. Having won each of their last three matches, Montenegro were high on confidence and made life difficult for the visitors throughout. But the all-important goal arrived ten minutes from half-time when Mohamed Elyounoussi wove his way through the hosts’ defence and cut the ball back for Alexander Sorloth to sweep home from close range.

Croatia 3-0 Malta

  • Substitutes made the difference for Croatia as Zlatko Dalic’s side hit their stride in Rijeka. Ivan Perisic came off the bench to help the 2018 World Cup finalists make the breakthrough, finishing fellow substitute Borna Barisic’s cross. Luka Modric doubled their lead from the penalty spot and Josip Brekalo added a third to see off a resolute Malta side.

Azerbaijan 1-2 Serbia

  • Aleksandar Mitrovic bagged a brace, his fourth and fifth goals in the space of six days, as Serbia strengthened their position at Group A’s summit. All was running to plan for the unbeaten visitors in the first half, when Dusan Tadic and Mitrovic - the European qualifiers’ top scorer and assist-provider respectively – combined for the latter to cut inside and fire powerfully into the bottom-right corner. But Azerbaijan created plenty of good chances themselves and were rewarded for their attacking endeavours just before the hour-mark when Emin Makhmudov sent Predrag Rajkovic the wrong way with the coolest of penalties. Mitrovic wasn’t finished though, and scored his second superb goal of the evening – volleying home left-footed from 20 yards – to seal a hard-fought win.

Cyprus 1-0 Slovenia

  • Cyprus made it four points from three games with a shock win over Slovenia in Nicosia. The visitors dominated the early stages but failed to make a breakthrough, for which they were punished just before the interval. Some brilliant Fotis Papoulis footwork enabled him to find Ioannis Pittas, who beat Jan Oblak for his maiden international goal. Cyprus defended infallibly in the second half to clinch a memorable victory and leap above Slovenia, who remain on three points.
European qualifiers: 30 March
Belgium v Belarus - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Luxembourg v Portugal - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Luxembourg v Portugal - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Belgium v Belarus - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Luxembourg v Portugal - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Wales v Czech Republic - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Wales v Czech Republic - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Luxembourg v Portugal - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Wales v Czech Republic - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
The Belarus team
Michy Batshuayi of Belgium
areth Bale of Wales interacts with Vladimir Darida of Czech Republic
Luxembourg v Portugal - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal warms up 
Luxembourg v Portugal - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Luxembourg v Portugal - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Wales v Czech Republic - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier

AFC

Results

Mongolia 0-14 Japan

  • Japan stretched their lead at the top of Group F with a ruthless demolition of Mongolia. This meeting of the section’s top and bottom sides always looked likely to prove a mismatch, and the floodgates duly opened when Takumi Minamino fired the Samurai Blue into a 13th-minute lead. The Mongolian goal was breached four more times in the first half alone, with Yuya Osako, Daichi Kamada and Hidemasa Morita on target before Kash-Erdene Tuya put through his own net. Japan proved even more relentless after the break, with double figures reached in style as Osako completed his hat-trick, Kyogo Furuhashi, Junya Ito and Sho Inagaki all bagged braces and Takuma Asano added further sheen to the scoreline. Their final haul of 14 unanswered goals saw Japan match the biggest win recorded in the Qatar 2022 preliminaries: an identical 14-0 triumph for Iran over Cambodia in October 2019.

Saudi Arabia 5-0 Palestine

  • Saleh Alshehri dazzled as Saudi Arabia thrashed Palestine 5-0 to surge above Uzbekistan to the top of Group D. After Yasser Alshahrani’s header finally rewarded the hosts’ dominance in the 37th minute, Alshehri’s brilliant back-heel helped set up Fahad Almuwallad to double the lead. The 27-year-old forward then scored twice after the interval, the second masterfully created by a delightful, nutmeg-decorated dribble by Sultan Al Ghanam. Salem Aldawsari completed the rout from the spot late on.

Concacaf (All matches)

Results

Guyana 4-0 Bahamas

  • Guyana won their first World Cup qualifier since November 2011 and did so decisively. Terence Vancooten opened the scoring after eight minutes, but the goal spree came in the second half when Kadell Daniel, substitute Omari Glasgow and Emery Welshman made it a rout in Santo Domingo.

Belize 5-0 Turks and Caicos Islands

  • Belize got their Qatar 2022 qualification campaign up and running with an assured victory over Turks and Caicos Islands. Carlos Bernarndez scored right before half-time in San Cristobal. Jesse August doubled their lead on the other side of the whistle before Bernardez made it a brace. Deshawon Nembhard, making just his second appearance for his country, and veteran goalscorer Deon McCaulay both got on the scoresheet before the final whistle to rub further salt in Turks and Caicos’ wounds.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines 3-0 British Virgin Islands

  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines ended an eight-match losing streak in FIFA World Cup qualifying with a 3-0 triumph over British Virgin Islands in Willemstad, Curacao. Oalex Anderson netted in the 10th minute and Zidane Sam doubled the advantage ten minutes later as Vincy Heat collected their first win since September 2015. Azinho Solomon added insurance in the dying minutes. After the pair had both lost their respective opening matches, the result allowed St. Vincent and the Grenadines to move off the bottom of Group C.

Grenada 1-0 US Virgin Islands

  • Grenada relied on a lone Saydrel Lewis strike just past the half-hour mark to overcome a gritty challenge from US Virgin Islands in St Georges. The win – a far cry from their 10-0 victory in the pair’s previous 2008 World Cup meeting – pushed Grenada to third in what is shaping as a competitive Group A.

Barbados 1-0 Anguilla

  • Barbados were made to work overtime to end a strong challenge from an Anguilla side who had avoided defeat in just one of 11 previous World Cup qualifiers. The only goal of the contest arrived nine minutes from fulltime when Emile Saimovici struck to earn Barbados their first points of the campaign.

Bermuda 5-0 Aruba

  • A double from Kane Crichlow helped Bermuda on their way to a comprehensive 5-0 win over Aruba in Bradenton, Florida. It was a strong win for the Bermudians who suffered a 5-1 loss against Canada on Thursday and who were defeated by Aruba during 2020 Concacaf Nations League qualifying.

...from UEFA.com

Previous Winners...

YEAR WINNER
2018 France
2014 Germany
2010 Spain
2006 Italy
2002 Brazil
1998 France
1994 Brazil
1990 West Germany
1986 Argentina
1982 Italy
1978 Argentina
1974 West Germany
1970 Brazil
1966 England
1962 Brazil
1958 Brazil

Won most by: Brazil - 5 times winners


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