The World Cup in Qatar is proving to be an exciting one with lots of upset. The gap in quality between the higher-ranked teams and the lower-ranked teams has decreased. We got the first taste of this when Saudi Arabia defeated Argentina in the very first match of their campaign.
Argentina is considered one of the favourites to win this World Cup, however, they were stopped at the first hurdle by an Asian team. Although they managed to win the other two matches in their group and progressed to the next round, it showed that the mighty Messi and co can also be defeated.
Japan has been the flagbearer of the Asian contingent in this tournament. They were placed in Group E alongside Germany, Spain and Costa Rica. Very few people would have thought that Japan can progress to the World Cup 2022 Round of 16 from this group, let alone win the group.
However, Japan has done the impossible and has beaten both the 2010 and 2014 World Cup winners deservingly. They have topped Group E and will now face 2018 finalist Croatia. Japan scored 2 goals against Germany within a span of 8 minutes and 3 minutes against Spain and won both the match by a 2-1 margin.
Australia, although from a different continent geographically, is considered a part of Asia in football terms. The Kangaroos defeated Denmark in the final group stage game as they booked their place in the Round of 16. Denmark was considered the dark horse of this World Cup but was stopped by this Asian team.
South Korea also made it to the Round of 16, after drawing against Uruguay and winning against Portugal, who are also one of the favourites for this tournament. Heung-min Son’s team defied all odds and edged past Uruguay by the maximum goals scored margin after being tied on points and goal difference.
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: The Rise of Asia as 3 Asian teams qualify for the Round of 16!
In this FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16, there are more Asian teams than South American teams, which is a great sign of football development in Asia. Saudi Arabia also seemed to be joining the knockout stage, however, their defeat against Mexico in the final group stage game denied them that chance. But they should be proud of their World Cup performance as they defeated Argentina deservingly.
Europe and South America are known as the house of football powerhouses. However, only Brazil and Argentina managed to progress among the South American nations. Also, just eight European teams have reached the knockout stage in this World Cup and not a single group had two European teams qualify from it.
Another standout team in this World Cup has been Morocco. The African team topped Group F and is unbeaten in this tournament. They drew with Croatia and have beaten both Belgium and Canada. Another African team, Senegal has also reached the knockout stage. Cameroon also became the first African team to beat Brazil in the World Cup.
The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 has seen many lesser-known teams performing strongly. So will it be Messi’s Argentina, Ronaldo’s Portugal, Neymar’s Brazil, Mbappe’s France or an underdog nation from Africa or Asia who will lift the trophy?