In less than two weeks, World Cup 2022 kicks off in Qatar. The likes of Brazil, Argentina, Germany, France, Spain, England and Belgium will be expected to reach the latter stages of the World Cup.
However, there are several high-profile countries that will not feature in the latest edition of the world’s biggest international tournament. Here are the highest-ranked teams to miss out on the big event:
The Azzurri are the most successful footballing nation not to have qualified for World Cup 2022. Italy has played in 18 World Cup final tournaments since its inception, and only Brazil have won the competition more than their tally of four victories.
Despite being current European champions and sixth in the FIFA world rankings, Italy failed to qualify for Qatar 2022 by finishing second place in Group C behind Switzerland in qualifying. The Azzurri then suffered a 1-0 aggregate defeat to North Macedonia in the semi-finals of the play-offs. Incredibly, it is the second straight World Cup that Italy has failed to qualify for after appearing in the previous 12 finals tournaments.
The South American country is not as notable an absentee as Italy, but still, their failure to qualify for Qatar 2022 was a surprise, as they are currently ranked 17th place in the world ranking.
Colombia had featured at six previous World Cup final tournaments, including appearing in the last two editions.
Their biggest achievement at a World Cup finals tournament came back in 2014 when they reached the quarter-finals in Brazil, only to suffer defeat at the hands of the hosts in the last eight. A young James Rodriguez starred at that tournament, scoring five goals and earning himself a big-money move to Real Madrid.
Colombia finished sixth place in the ten-team South American section of qualification, with only the first four teams qualifying automatically and fifth place going into an inter-continental play-off. The flair and flamboyancy shown in previous tournaments will certainly be missed.
Similarly, to their South American counterparts, Peru missed out on World Cup qualification by not finishing as one of the top four teams in their continent. However, the White and Reds did finish in the inter-continental play-off spot.
Peru failed to qualify for Qatar 2022 in a heart-breaking fashion, as they suffered a 5-4 penalty defeat in the inter-continental play-off against Australia. The defeat was disappointing, especially as they are ranked as the 23rd-best team in the FIFA rankings.
They had featured in four previous World Cup finals, with their best performance coming in 1970 when they suffered a 4-2 quarter-final against the now almost mythical Brazilian team of that era.
The Scandinavian nation has been regulars at World Cups over the years. In fact, they have featured in 12 editions of the tournament, including four years ago, when they made it all the way to the quarter-finals. However, their highest achievement at a World Cup finals tournament came in 1950 and 1994 when they finished third place after defeats in the semi-finals of both competitions.
Sweden ranked 25th place in the world ranking, finished second in Group B of qualifying, finishing as runners-up to Spain. They then suffered a 2-0 defeat against Poland in the play-offs, which was a poor way result for a team with such a good previous record in qualifying.
For obvious reasons, the main priority for the people of Ukraine or even the national team has not been football in 2022. However, there was still some minor disappointment that Ukraine would not play at this year’s World Cup.
In truth, Ukraine were always going to be up against it when paired with current champions France in Group D of qualifying. As expected, Les Bleus comfortably won the group to book their place at the World Cup finals.
However, Ukraine finished second in the group, setting up a play-off with Scotland and claimed a 3-1 win, setting up a play-off final clash with Wales. Unfortunately for everybody connected with the team, they suffered a 1-0 defeat, and the Dragons booked their place in Qatar instead.
Ukraine has previously featured in just one World Cup as an independent nation, which was in 2006, where they managed to make it to the quarter-finals of the competition.
The South American nation has featured relatively regularly in World Cups of late and has featured in nine final tournaments altogether. They last featured at a finals in 2014. Their best finish at a World Cup came way back in 1962 on home soil, as they finished in third place.
They were disappointing in South American qualifying, finishing a lowly seventh place in the group, seven points adrift of fourth-place Ecuador, who took the final automatic qualification spot.
In recent decades Nigeria has been a regular feature at World Cup finals tournaments. The Super Eagles first qualified for the finals in 1994 and then proceeded to feature in five of the next six World Cups, including in 2018. Cameroon is the only African team to play in more World Cups than Nigeria.
Nigeria’s best finish at World Cups was making it to the last 16, which they achieved in 1994, 1998 and 2014. However, the Super Eagles failed to qualify for Qatar 2022 because of an away goal defeat by Ghana in the final round of qualifying.
Notable players who will miss World Cup 2022
While the players from the above nations will miss out on the World Cup, several high-profile players will also miss the tournament. In fact, two of the Premier League’s biggest stars, Manchester City’s Erling Haaland and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, will miss the tournament due to their country’s failure to qualify.
The likes of Timo Werner, Paul Pogba, Diogo Jota and N’Golo Kante will miss the tournament through injury. Meanwhile, Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku, Senegal’s Sadio Mane, Serbia’s Dusan Vlahovic and Heung-Min Son of South Korea are all battling injuries to recover in time to feature in Qatar.