Chosen by us to get you up to speed at a glance
Gareth Bale has declared himself “100 per cent fit” and ready for the World Cup, despite playing just 28 minutes of competitive football since September.
The Wales captain comes into the tournament on a high, having helped Los Angeles FC to a dramatic victory in the MLS Cup final earlier this month, but there have been rising concerns over his physical condition, reports Sam Dean.
Although Bale last completed a full 90 minutes when playing for his country against Poland in September, he insisted on Monday that he will be able to play every second of the group stages in Qatar if needed.
“I am 100 per cent fit and ready to play,” said the 33-year-old. “Simple. If I need to play three 90-minute games, I will play three 90-minute games.
“It has been difficult, mentally more than anything, for everybody over the last three or four weeks. Hearing stories of players going down, speaking to a few of the boys, even having to play this weekend was tough mentally, just praying not to have an injury.”
More worrying for Wales manager Rob Page is the fitness of key midfielder Joe Allen, who has been out of action since September due to a hamstring injury.
Allen is a fundamental player in the Wales system and is now in a race against time to be fit for the opening match against the United States next week.
The 32-year-old has gone to extreme measures in order to regain his fitness in time for the tournament, including installing a hyperbaric oxygen chamber in his house.
“I am hoping to be fit for the first game,” Allen said. “There isn’t much time but this is an important week for me. It is improving, thankfully.
“I’m doing everything I can to get myself fit for the World Cup. We’ll have to see how this week goes, but I feel confident and comfortable that it won’t be too much of a problem."
Allen added to Newyddion S4C: “At the start, I was a bit unlucky in terms of knowing what exactly the problem was but, thankfully, we did discover how bad the injury was.
"Since then, we made a recovery plan and worked hard. I’m thankful I’ve had so much help from everyone at Swansea and Wales. I’ve been to Liverpool to see a specialist and had a hyperbaric oxygen chamber in my house. I’ve thrown everything at it.”
With Allen unlikely to be at full fitness for the opening game, Wales are especially reliant on Aaron Ramsey finding his best form. Ramsey has endured his own injury struggles in recent years but completed 90 minutes in his last two games for Nice before meeting up with the international squad.
Wales will wear the ‘One Love’ armband in support of LGBTQ+ rights at the World Cup, and Ramsey said the team plans to highlight a number of issues during their time in Qatar.
“Obviously we disagree with a lot of things going on over there,” said Ramsey. “As an organisation we have made our stance very clear on that. For us as players we are going to be wearing that armband and showing our support, and hopefully highlighting a few other issues over there as well.”
Wales meet Iran in their second game before a clash with England on November 29th, and Bale believes the group is the toughest at the tournament. His hope is that their first World Cup since 1958 will inspire another generation of Welsh footballers.
“Growing up watching the World Cup I never had a team to support,” said Bale. “For the kids now to have Wales, their country, and to have that poster up on the wall, will be incredible. They don’t realise how spoiled they are.”
Pretty sure I am correct in saying that we’ve got all the World Cup squads now with the exception of Ecuador. El Tri seem to be keeping their cards close to the chest. Here is how they lined up in their last match, anyhow.
💪 ¡Alineación de nuestra Selección mundialista!
✅ Este es el once de #LaTri 🇪🇨 para su partido 🆚 Irak
🔥 Gracias a @gatoradeecuador #HidratadorOficial de nuestra querida Selección#HaremosHistoria pic.twitter.com/iQyJn1JNbT
We will continue to keep our eyes peeled for that one but I reckon that will do it for today’s live blog. Thanks for following with me Alan Tyers and, earlier, Andrew Quinn. Some news from the Wales camp has just dropped so here is Gareth Bale to play us out. Hopefully it’s not about golf. Sam Dean the Telegraph sportswriter who will be focusing on Wales this tournament, so follow him on socials if you are of a Welsh persuasion. See you soon. Good evening.
Spain defender Sergio Ramos said he was disappointed to be excluded from their World Cup squad after returning to full fitness following a calf injury that limited his playing time with Paris St Germain last season.
Spain manager Luis Enrique announced his 26-man squad for the tournament in Qatar, opting tp leave out experienced players like Ramos, midfielder Thiago Alcantara, defender Marcos Alonso and goalkeeper David de Gea.
Ramos, 36, who joined PSG last year after 16 trophy-laden years at Real Madrid, wrote an emotional letter to fans after missing out on the chance to feature in his fifth World Cup.
"I devoted myself, body and soul, to recovering and getting back to feeling the way I always have… Fortunately, I can say that this season I feel like myself again and am back enjoying football," Ramos wrote on Instagram.
"The World Cup? Of course, it was one of those big dreams I wanted to realise. It would have been my fifth but unfortunately I’ll have to watch it at home," Ramos said.
Ramos won the 2010 World Cup with Spain.
"It’s tough, but the sun will still rise in the morning," he said. "I wouldn’t change anything about myself. Not my mentality. Not my passion. Not my commitment, effort, and dedication."
Spain play Jordan in a friendly on Thursday ahead of their World Cup opener against Costa Rica.
They also face Germany and Japan in Group E in Qatar.
Raul Jimenez is named in the Mexico squad, despite not having played club football since August.
He has appeared just four times for his team, Wolverhampton Wanderers, this season. He’s been rehabbing back home and was fit enough for the bench last week, against Iraq.
His club manager is not too happy, by all accounts.
"The most important thing is not the World Cup, it’s Wolves," said Julen Lopetegui, the Molineux gaffer. "I have spoken with Raul, I am worried about him because he doesn’t play a minute with his team, Wolves.
"We need all of them but we need Raul fit and the best version. I hope he will come back here in this way. I respect the decision of the player and the coach but above all for me it’s Wolves."
But bad news for another Veteran Mexican: Javier Hernandez, the former Man United player aka Chicharito aka The Little Pea, is not included.
Goalkeepers: Guillermo Ochoa (Club America), Alfredo Talavera (Juarez), Rodolfo Cota (Leon)
Defenders: Jorge Sanchez (Ajax), Kevin Alvarez (Pachuca), Nestor Araujo (Club America), Johan Vasquez (Cremonese), Hector Moreno (Monterrey), Cesar Montes (Monterrey), Gerardo Arteaga (Genk), Jesus Gallardo (Monterrey)
Midfielders: Andres Guardado (Real Betis), Hector Herrera (Houston Dynamo), Charly Rodriguez (Cruz Azul), Erick Gutierrez (PSV Eindhoven), Luis Chavez (Pachuca), Edson Alvarez (Ajax), Orbelin Pineda (AEK Athens), Luis Romo (Monterrey)
Forwards: Alexis Vega (Guadalajara), Hirving Lozano (Napoli), Raul Jimenez (Wolves), Roberto Alvarado (Guadalajara), Uriel Antuna (Cruz Azul), Henry Martin (Club America), Rogelio Funes Mori (Monterrey)
England football are playing Against a country where women have no rights (Iran) in a country where women have no rights (Qatar) yet pretend to care about the Women’s game.
Have a laugh.
After Iran’s beach football team became champion in Dubai Intercontinental Cup and players showed their support for Iranian women and ongoing uprising by not singing IR anthem,
There are reports that the team upon arrival is under heavy pressures from Bassiji militia.@FIFAcom pic.twitter.com/0ZYbKXSsQI
Here is their squad.
Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Amir Abedzadeh (Ponferradina), Seyed Hossein Hosseini (Esteghlal), Payam Niazmand (Sepahan)
Defenders: Ehsan Hajsafi (AEK Athens), Morteza Pouraliganji (Persepolis), Ramin Rezaeian (Sepahan), Milad Mohammadi (AEK Athens), Hossein Kanaanizadegan (Al Ahli), Shojae Khalilzadeh (Al Ahli), Sadegh Moharrami (Dinamo Zagreb), Rouzbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal), Majid Hosseini (Kayserispor), Abolfazl Jalali (Esteghlal)
Midfielders: Ahmad Noorollahi (Shabab Al Ahli), Saman Ghoddos (Brentford), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis), Saeid Ezatolahi (Vejle), Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Feyenoord), Mehdi Torabi (Persepolis), Ali Gholizadeh (Charleroi), Ali Karimi (Kayserispor)
Forwards: Karim Ansarifard (Omonia Nicosia), Sardar Azmoun (Bayer Leverkusen), Mehdi Taremi (Porto)
Fulham defender Tim Ream and Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner are among the USA’s World Cup-bound squad members to receive well-wishes from fictional TV football coach Ted Lasso.
Giant yellow banners began to appear in the home towns of the players in Gregg Berhalter’s 26-man squad this week, each with a personalised message from Jason Sudeikis’ popular character as they set off for Qatar.
Ted Lasso follows its eponymous protagonist, a former gridiron coach, as he takes over as coach of English football club AFC Richmond, despite having no experience in the game.
Ream’s message, placed on a billboard in St Louis, Missouri, reads: "Tim, word at the fair is the lights aren’t shining any place but St Louis, so if you could mail me one of y’alls lightbulbs, I’d love to check that out.
"You know what other shiny thing I can’t wait to see? You playin’ in the big games. There should be a warning before the tournaments to load up on SPF and sunglasses to protect everyone from the Tim Ream beam, I know I’ll be doubling up on my visors.
"Your tootsie wootsie, Ted Lasso."
The AFC Richmond boss’s message to Arsenal shot-stopper Turner was hung up outside his alma mater, Saint Joseph Regional High School in Bergen County, New Jersey.
Part of it read: "Sometimes the goal you’re training for turns into the train you’re goaling for, you know? Choo-choo! Next stop: the games of all games! We’re takin’ that track all the way to victory."
Ream’s Fulham team-mate Antonee Robinson, Leeds midfield duo Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams and Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic also feature in a youthful US squad, the second-youngest in the country’s history with an average age of 25 years, 175 days.
Right-back DeAndre Yedlin is the only player included to have previously played at a World Cup, having featured in three matches in Brazil in 2014.
Berhalter’s biggest competition in Group B will be Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions, with Wales and Iran also vying to make it to the round of 16.
The USA begin their campaign against Wales on November 21.
Neymar and Marquinhos arrived late for the first day of World Cup training on Monday due to problems with their flight from Paris to Turin where Brazil are holding a five-day camp before flying to Doha.
All 26 players in the squad were due to report on Monday morning to the Juventus training facility but Neymar and Marquinhos, who play for Paris St Germain, were delayed because the aircraft had to be changed due to mechanical problems.
The pair arrived in the afternoon as coach Tite was running the first practice with light drills involving the 14 players in the squad who did not play for their clubs over the weekend.
Neymar and Marquinhos joined the other players in the gym at the end of the session.
According to Brazil’s technical staff, the plan is to use the first two days in Turin to evaluate the physical condition of the players, managing the activity load.
They intend to hold the first full practice on the field on Wednesday.
Brazil open their World Cup Group G campaign against Serbia on Nov. 24 before facing Switzerland and Cameroon. (Reporting by Fernando Kallas, editing by Ed Osmond)
James Cleverly tells @CommonsForeign that he will be going to Qatar for the World Cup during heated exchange with @RhonddaBryant over Qatar's LGBT/human rights record
Non-League Ashton United are trying to sign Erling Haaland on loan from neighbours Manchester City during the World Cup.
With top-flight football taking a break for the global showpiece in Qatar, the prolific Haaland will be out of action in the coming weeks. His country, Norway, failed to qualify.
Ashton, of the Northern Premier League Premier Division, English football’s seventh tier, believe they can offer the formidable striker the perfect solution to help him maintain his match fitness.
"It just makes sense," Robins manager Michael Clegg told the club’s official website. "City aren’t playing, and we want to help by keeping Erling fit. It makes more sense than him playing golf for six weeks.
"We think he will be a great fit for us and would slot in with our squad dynamic really well."
Ashton, who are based just six miles from City’s Etihad Stadium, are 11th in their division and were beaten 2-0 in front of a crowd of 622 at Gainsborough Trinity on Saturday.
And here is the Ghana coach Otto Addo on Ghanaweb website. He won’t explain why he has left out some players: "As a principle, I don’t like to do to others what I don’t want to be done to me. The team is like a family and whatever happens stays in the family. The players who did not make the squad know why they did not make it. I have spoken to them."
Ghana had to leave its top two goalkeepers out of the World Cup squad after they were injured ahead of the announcement on Monday.
First-choice goalkeeper Jojo Wollacott broke his finger in the warmup ahead of a game with his English club side Charlton Athletic this weekend and has now been ruled out of the World Cup, while backup Richard Ofori has a knee injury, according to his South African club Orlando Pirates.
That means Ghana has been forced to dig deep into its reserves for the tournament in Qatar.
Lawrence Ati-Zigi, who plays his club soccer in Switzerland, is likely to start the World Cup in goal. The other two goalkeepers named in the squad are Abdul Manaf Nurudeen, who has two caps, and 19-year-old Ibrahim Danlad, who is yet to play for Ghana.
As expected, Ghana selected defender Tariq Lamptey, a former England youth international, and forward Inaki Williams, who has one cap for Spain, after they changed international allegiance this year.
Ayew brothers Andre and Jordan also made the squad as did Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey. Jeffrey Schlupp and Joseph Paintsil were left out.
The 26-year-old Wollacott will need surgery on his finger, Charlton said on Monday after the club gave him two days to see if he had a chance of making the World Cup.
"Everyone at the club is bitterly disappointed for Jojo," Charlton manager Ben Garner said. "He played such an important part in Ghana getting to the World Cup and we all know how much he was looking forward to it.
"For the injury to happen so close to the tournament…is very cruel."
Ghana is one of only three African teams to have reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup, a feat it achieved in South Africa in 2010, but it goes to this year’s tournament at a low point.
It was eliminated in the group stage of the African Cup of Nations at the start of the year in its worst performance at the continental championship. That led to coach Milovan Rajevac being fired in January and replaced with Otto Addo.
Lamptey and Williams are among a new group of players Addo has introduced to the team.
Ghana plays Portugal in its first game at the World Cup and will also face South Korea and Uruguay in Group H.
That final group game against Uruguay is a rematch of the 2010 quarterfinal, when Luis Suarez infamously blocked a goal-bound header with his arm late in extra time to deny Ghana a place in the semifinals. Asamoah Gyan missed the penalty and Uruguay won in a shootout.
Goalkeepers: Abdul Manaf Nurudeen (Eupen), Ibrahim Danlad (Berekum Chelsea), Lawrence Ati-Zigi (St. Gallen).
Defenders: Denis Odoi (Club Brugge), Tariq Lamptey (Brighton), Alidu Seidu (Clermont), Daniel Amartey (Leicester), Joseph Aidoo (Celta Vigo), Alexander Djiku (Strasbourg), Mohammed Salisu (Southampton), Baba Rahman (Reading), Gideon Mensah (Auxerre).
Midfielders: Andre Ayew (Al Sadd), Thomas Partey (Arsenal), Elisha Owusu (Gent), Salis Abdul Samed (Lens), Mohammed Kudus (Ajax), Daniel Kofi Kyereh (Freiburg).
Forwards: Daniel Afriyie (Hearts of Oak), Kamal Sowah (Club Brugge), Abdul Fatawu Issahaku (Sporting Lisbon), Osman Bukari (Red Star Belgrade), Inaki Williams (Athletic Bilbao), Antoine Semenyo (Bristol City), Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace), Kamaldeen Sulemana (Rennes).
These boys😻😻 pic.twitter.com/qvgfO58TC6
Sarina Wiegman wished the England men’s team all the best as they prepare to head to Qatar for the World Cup.
Gareth Southgate’s side play their first match on November 21 against Iran, before further group games against the United States and Wales as they look to build on a memorable showing from four years ago when they reached the semi-finals.
The Three Lions also reached the final of Euro 2020 last year, losing on penalties to Italy, and despite a poor run of results heading into this winter’s World Cup they are still among the tournament favourites.
Wiegman knows what it takes to go all the way in a global competition, having guided the Lionesses to victory at Euro 2022 and also previously tasting success with the Netherlands, and she has been in touch with her England counterpart.
"We have spoken a little bit – not very recently, but we have. I would just like to wish them very good luck," she told Sky Sports.
The curtain fell on the Premier League on Sunday ahead of the winter break, leaving many players with little time to prepare ahead of the World Cup, but Wiegman hopes those going to Qatar will enjoy the experience.
"It is pretty hard, having players just playing this weekend now going out with such a small time to prepare but, still, they are very good players," she said.
"I just hope they do really well and they are able to enjoy it too and get through to lots of stages."
Ex-Chelsea forward Eden Hazard believes he has a lot to offer Belgium at the World Cup and is confident he can prove his doubters wrong as the midfielder ruled out an imminent departure from Real Madrid.
Hazard, going to the global showpiece tournament for the third time, is Belgium captain but has barely played for Real this season after falling out of favour under coach Carlo Ancelotti.
The 31-year-old, however, is comparing the situation to the European Championship in 2020 when he also went into the competition lacking game time.
"I’m keeping my smile," he told reporters on Monday. "I’ve had a difficult few months where I haven’t been able to gain much rhythm. I now have to show that I can still do it. I don’t doubt it myself, but I understand that the outside world does.
"Just like at the last Euros. I gained minutes in the first matches and was there in the quarter-final against Portugal. Our medical and technical staff will help me [be ready].
"I feel good physically. Of course, I miss rhythm, that’s why the last practice match against Egypt (is important). Then I want to be there for the first match [in Qatar]."
Belgium play Egypt in Kuwait in a warm-up on Friday and a fit and firing Hazard is key for coach Roberto Martinez as leader of their so-called "Golden Generation".
"I have not suddenly lost my qualities. This will be my third World Cup and I want to show that Belgium can still count on its captain and that I want to give everything (for the team).
"Together with a few other boys, I have reached an age where you can drop out (of the team). But not before going all out in Qatar first."
Belgium, who finished third at the 2018 World Cup, have been drawn in Group F and open their campaign against Canada on November 23, before taking on Morocco and Croatia.
"Our first focus should be on surviving the group stage," Hazard said. "Then anything is possible if we give the maximum. Quarter-final, semi-final or even the final."
He also reiterated he has no plans to leave Madrid in January.
"I don’t want to leave Real. Maybe things will look different (for me there) after the World Cup," Hazard said.
Wales’ Aaron Ramsey has dyed his hair blonde ahead of Wales’ World Cup campaign.
The ex-Arsenal and Rangers midfielder, who has played 12 times for Nice this season, went blonde for Euro 2016 too.
He will be hoping that Wales can emulate their form of that tournament, where they reached the semi-finals.
Ramsey was one of Wales’ best performing players at the tournament, with one goal and four assists.
They were beaten 2-0 by eventual winners Portugal in the semi-finals.
We know what this means 👀👱♂️#ArBenYByd | #TogetherStronger pic.twitter.com/ulrL057mg4
Welsh ska punk band Tinty & The Bucket Hats have released a Wales-inspired version of Shakira’s 2010 official World Cup song Waka Waka (This is Time for Africa).
The song, which is sang in both English and Welsh, has been noticed by some of the players, with Fulham forward Daniel James commenting: "Love this".
Feel the spirit of ’58!
🏴WAKA WAKA CYMRU🏴
(Men of Harlech)
🔥Official music video🔥 – Wales World Cup & @kidscape charity single
Wales away fans, can you spot yourself from Prague to Brussels?🏴😍
The #ThreeLions are in the building! 🤝 pic.twitter.com/TknR0HaJwO
By Sam Wallace in Doha
The United States have defied Fifa’s edict to avoid contentious issues outside football at the World Cup finals and shown solidarity with the gay community, criminalised in Qatar, by redesigning their federation crest in rainbow colours at their training base.
The stance on gay rights, at odds with Fifa’s order to squads to “focus on the football” was announced today by head coach Gregg Berhalter, whose side face both Wales and England in group B. The crest is in a media briefing room at the team’s training ground, Al Gharafa stadium in north Doha.
Berhalter, who played for the US at the 2002 World Cup finals, said that the move was part of the US team’s ethos to take a lead on social issues.
The question of how to show solidarity in Qatar with marginalised groups, especially LGBT, has been a thorny issue for European teams ahead of the tournament in a country where homosexuality is illegal. The English Football Association has designed a “One Love” armband which captain Harry Kane wore in the friendly games in October although Fifa is yet to sanction it for the World Cup finals in Qatar.
The US federation launched its “Be the Change” initiative in 2020 in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd. As part of its commitment to LGBT rights in Qatar it has pledged to display rainbow flags and “messages of inclusion” at what it describes as “night before parties” in the host country.
The team wore shirts with rainbow-design numbers and a similar captain’s armband in the friendlies it played in June. It has also taken a number of measures to support migrant workers in Qatar.
Berhalter said: “We have been talking to the team for 18 months about Qatar, and about some social issues in Qatar and we think it’s important. When we are on the world stage and in a venue like Qatar it’s important to bring awareness to these issues and that’s what we have achieved. It’s not just Stateside that we want to bring attention to social issues, it’s also abroad and we recognise that.
“We recognise that Qatar has made strides and that there has been a ton of progress but there is still some more to do, and ‘Be the Change’ represents everyone having the individual opportunity to make change and have change start with them. I think it’s appropriate that we have it here as well.”
The team’s goalkeeper Sean Johnson said he and his team-mates wanted to “be impactful”. He said: “It’s a sign of our values and what we represent as the men’s national team.”
The right-back Shaq Moore said: “As a team we support the initiative ‘Be the Change’ and we are aware of what is going on. We want to be here and play but we also want to be the change.”
Berhalter’s side face Wales on Monday, and England four days’ later. He said that in the perspective of the US media, Wales had been “underrated”.
“The way I look at the Wales team it is basically a Premier League squad,” he said. “You have Daniel James who scored against Manchester United this week, a high quality player. Harry Wilson, Kieffer Moore, Neco Williams, Brennan Johnson, Gareth Bale, Ben Davies.
“To me it is a really good squad, a formidable squad. They have been in international competitions, they know what it is like and it will be a very difficult game as it will be when they play England. They are a highly competitive team. We know the starting point next Monday is we are in for a battle, for sure.”
Many novel new experiences are available at this most unusual of World Cups.
For those in attendance there will be a chance to watch England without the help of 19 pints of continental lager.
For those staying at home, it will be the first time it has been possible to watch Cameroon lose to Brazil on the same day as opening the door of an advent calendar.
For all of us it will be a chance to watch a World Cup with the comforting thought that it’s only going to be 3.5 years until the next one.
Some things never change though, and in that spirit it is time to rank all 64 of the kits at this winter’s tournament. Well, 62 for now, because Iran’s are stuck in grainy, social-media-leaked pic purgatory. Time waits for no Iran, we will have to put them in their place when they arrive. Possibly shortly after they take the field against England.
An unusual spread otherwise, with a fair amount of experimentation across the field but few shocking transgressions.
Our senior sports writer Thom Gibbs’ list is here.
👊 Hirving will be taking part in his second #FIFAWorldCup with @miseleccionmxEN. Good luck, Chucky! 🇲🇽
💙 #ForzaNapoliSempre pic.twitter.com/XG4lBVlh1P
Napoli have congratulated their Mexican forward Hirving Lozano for being included in Mexico’s World Cup squad, even though the squad is yet to be formally announced.
The former PSV man is one of Mexico’s key players, with 16 goals in 59 games, and has been part of a high-flying Napoli team this season, so he was expected to be part of the squad.
Gerardo Martino’s 26-man squad has reportedly been leaked online, but the Mexican football association is yet to confirm who has been picked.
Injured Bayer Leverkusen forward Sardar Azmoun was named in the squad despite reported pressure on head coach Carlos Queiroz not to pick Azmoun after the player criticised the Iranian government over Mahsa Amini’s death.
There have been mass protests across Iran following the 22-year-old woman’s death in police custody after she was arrested not wearing a hijab death.
Despite the Iranian FA telling players not to speak about the protests, Azmoun posted on Instagram: "At worst I’ll be dismissed from the national team.. No problem. I’d sacrifice that for one hair on the heads of Iranian women.
"This story will not be deleted. They can do whatever they want. Shame on you for killing so easily; long live Iranian women."
Iran will play England on November 21 in their first game of the tournament.
Azmoun may be a player for England to watch out for, as he has scored 41 goals in 65 games for Iran. He has yet to score in the Bundesliga this season, but had 62 goals and 23 assists in 104 games for Zenit St Petersburg before signing for Leverkusen in January.
The squad also includes Brentford’s Saman Ghoddos, Porto’s Mehdi Taremi, and ex-Brighton man Alireza Jahanbakhsh.
You can see the full squad here.
From Tom Garry, our women’s football reporter in Murcia.
Sarina Wiegman says she has spoken to men’s national team manager Gareth Southgate as she and her squad send his Three Lions their very best wishes ahead of the World Cup in Qatar, and hopes they are able to enjoy themselves and go deep into the tournament.
The England women’s team manager, who led the Lionesses to their first major trophy with success in July’s Euros, feels the men’s side’s preparation for the tournament is not easy given the short turnaround between the men’s Premier League fixtures at the weekend and the men’s tournament starting on Sunday, but has praised the strength of Southgate’s squad.
Speaking one week ahead of England’s men’s opening game of their tournament against Iran on Monday November 21, Lionesses centre-back and stand-in captain Millie Bright urged her male counterparts to "just enjoy every minute" of their campaign.
Reflecting on how she felt seven days before the Lionesses’ opening match of July’s Euros, Bright said: "That week leading up to the first game goes really slow.
"Looking back, we were just itching for the first game to come along, and I think in the preparation we’d worked really hard and were in a really, really good place, so we were just itching to get out there.
"My message would just be to take every second in and just put the work in on the training pitch, and just enjoy every minute of it."
Asked if she had spoken to Southgate, back-to-back Euros-winning coach Wiegman added: “Yes we’ve spoken a little bit, recently but not very shortly recently, but we have, and we would just like to wish them very good luck.
"It’s pretty hard, you know, having players who have just played this weekend and now going out to [Qatar] having such a small amount of time to prepare, but they’re still very good players.
"So I just hope they’re doing really well and they are able to enjoy it too. And that they get through lots of stages [in the tournament]."
Bright and Wiegman were speaking ahead of England’s friendly against Norway on Tuesday in Murcia, where the Lionesses will bid to complete an entire calendar year unbeaten, in what is their final fixture of 2022.
"It’s been a rollercoaster but I think it’ll be everyone’s favourite year in football, to be honest," Bright added, discussing the Lionesses’ calendar year overall. "The things we achieved as a team and the things we did for our country and the game were incredible.
"We made memories for a lifetime, but most importantly, we made change in the game. And we’ve opened up so many doors and new opportunities, and hopefully we keep moving in that direction. We all have full belief that we will.
"We want to end the year on a high and set the tone going into the new year."
Chelsea forward Callum Hudson-Odoi, who is on loan at Bayer Leverkusen, has not been included in the Ghana squad for the World Cup.
It was reported that Hudson-Odoi would declare for Ghana after November 17, which would mark three years after his last appearance for England.
The forward has played nine times in the Bundesliga and six times in the Champions League this season.
Ghana’s 26-player squad includes Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey, Leicester’s Daniel Amartey, Arsenal’s Thomas Partey and Crystal Palace’s Jordan Ayew.
Southampton’s Mohammed Salisu and Bristol City’s Antoine Semenyo also make the squad.
Charlton Athletic’s Joseph Wollacott misses out through injury and Leicester’s Jeffrey Schlupp is not selected.
You can view the full squad here.
Birmingham City midfielder Hannibal Mejbri, who is on loan from Manchester United, has been chosen in Tunisia’s World Cup squad. Mejbri has played 15 times for Brimingham this term, having previously made three appearances for Manchester United’s first team.
Ex-Sunderland forward Wahbi Khazri, who is one of Tunisia’s key players, has also been included.
Head coach Jalel Kadri dropped the French-based winger Saif-Eddine Khaoui. Khaoui was chosen in the squad that competed at the World Cup in Russia four years ago and, although infrequently played for Tunisia since, had been expected to be included given his form in Ligue 1 for his club Clermont.
A total of 10 players survive from the squad that competed at the last World Cup, where Tunisia were beaten by both Belgium and England but did win their last group game against Panama.
Veteran goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi, captain in Russia, returns to the squad after a three-year absence in a list of four goalkeepers for the tournament.
The squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Aymen Dahmen (CS Sfaxien), Bechir Ben Said (US Monastir), Mouez Hassen (Club Africain), Aymen Mathlouthi (Etoile Sahel)
Defenders: Ali Abdi (Caen), Dylan Bronn (Salernitana), Mohamed Drager (FC Luzern), Nader Ghandri (Club Africain), Bilel Ifa (Kuwait SC), Wajdi Kechrida (Atromitos), Ali Maaloul (Al Ahly), Yassine Meriah (Esperance), Montassar Talbi (Lorient)
Midfielders: Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane, Ghaylane Chaalali (both Esperance), Aissa Laidouni (Ferencvaros), Hannibal Mejbri (Birmingham City), Ferjani Sassi (Al Duhail), Elyas Skhiri (FC Cologne)
Forwards: Anis Ben Slimane (Brondby), Seifeddine Jaziri (Zamalek), Issam Jebali (Odense), Wahbi Khazri (Montpellier), Taha Yassine Khenissi (Kuwait SC), Youssef Msakni (Al Arabi), Naim Sliti (Al Ittifaq)
Denmark announced the final five squad members for the World Cup on Sunday night.
Brentford’s Christian Norgaard, who returned last week after three months out, is one of the five.
Union Berlin goalkeeper Frederik Ronnow, Benfica defender Alexander Bah, RB Leipzig forward Yussuf Poulsen and Hoffenheim’s Robert Skov were all added to the squad.
Celtic’s Matt O’Riley misses out despite being one of the Scottish champions’ star performers this term.
You can see the squad in full here.
📸 : 𝗕𝗟𝗔𝗖𝗞 𝗦𝗧𝗔𝗥𝗦 𝗪𝗢𝗥𝗟𝗗 𝗖𝗨𝗣 𝗦𝗤𝗨𝗔𝗗 𝗔𝗡𝗡𝗢𝗨𝗡𝗖𝗘𝗠𝗘𝗡𝗧 🔜🔜
📺 𝗟𝗜𝗩𝗘 on Ghana Football Association YouTube page #BlackStars pic.twitter.com/g2SPrqZ3lY
After Ghana, only Tunisia, Mexico and Ecuador are still to announce their squads.
International tournaments are a fantastic opportunity for players to attract interest from buying clubs, although scouting a small sample of games in a knockout tournament has its dangers.
One of the many respects in which the mid-season Qatar World Cup is unusual is the fact the January transfer window follows just a few weeks after the final.
With the fitness of players coming out of the tournament a big unknown and a hectic fixture list, clubs could be keen to do business.
Mike McGrath looks at some of the names Premier League clubs will be looking at here.
France boss Didier Deschamps has added Marcus Thuram as the 26th player in the World Cup holders’ squad.
The Borussia Monchengladbach forward’s father, Lilian Thuram, won the 1998 World Cup alongside Deschamps.
Deschamps announced a 25-player squad on November 9. It includes stars like Antoine Greizmann, Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema.
Thuram has 13 goals in 17 appearances for Monchengladbach this season, but is yet to score in four appearances for France.
The World Cup in Qatar – that absurd, impossible notion made reality by geopolitical power, armies of migrant workers and allegations of corrupt money- is almost upon us.
In seven days the tournament will begin, and whatever revulsion is felt at how we got here, on the streets of Doha, it is hard to escape the conclusion that Qatar has won. Let the sportswashing commence.
They have almost reached the finish line. The workers on the Corniche, the main Doha seafront with the West Bay skyline in the background, paint concession huts, hang lights, and heave equipment. Most of their jobs are hard and hot, and some are mind-bendingly dull. At night time, at each temporary ramp covering the cables that cross the road, stands a man for hours and hours with a glow stick to warn the trucks of the little bump ahead.
With less than a week until the controversial World Cup starts, you can read analysis from our chief football writer Sam Wallace here.
With only a week to go until England’s opening World Cup match, captain Harry Kane has said that he believes England can win the tournament in Qatar.
England are one of the favourites to win the tournament after reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia and losing the final of Euro 2020 to Italy on penalties.
However, the country have been in poor form of late, with no wins in their Nations League group, including a 4-0 loss to Hungary.
But the Tottenham striker was optimistic that the current side can emulate the heroes of 1966.
Kane told Sky Sports: "We have to believe we can win it.
"I look back at England 10, 15 years ago and it was almost [like] we were scared to say we wanted to win it. I think one of the big shifts that we’ve made over the last four or five years with Gareth is not being afraid to say that.
"Look, we’re going to this tournament to win it because we believe we can. It’d be wrong to think otherwise. What’s the point of going to a World Cup and not believing that you can bring the trophy home?"
England fans were worried after midfielder James Maddison came off injured in the first half of Leicester City’s match against West Ham.
But Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers reassured England fans that the playmaker will be fit for the World Cup.
Rodgers told reporters after the match: “I’ve just spoken to the doctor and James will be fine.
"He hasn’t trained much since we played Everton last week. It’s just a little knock on his knee and going off was a precaution. He could have carried on.”
Overlooked striker Ivan Toney responded to his omission from the squad by scoring twice against Manchester City in a 2-1 win.
The Brentford player said: “Obviously it’s disappointing [missing out] but, listen, I know what I’m capable of and I won’t let it put me down."
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