The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final Draw took place on Friday, April 1, 2022. One of a handful of ways to catch the action was on Fox Sports 1, where their pre-draw show took place at 11:30am, 30 minutes prior to the official draw.
The FIFA World Cup Draw was a true, full-scale production. The show featured everything from a musical performance, an ‘In Memorium’ segment, poetry, and everything in between. The world was also introduced to Qatar’s FIFA World Cup Mascot, La’eeb.
France’s World Cup-winning manager Didier Deschamps was tasked with bringing out the World Cup trophy on stage. Other football legends who took the stage were Carli Lloyd (USA, 2x Women’s World Cup winner, Cafu (Brazil, 2x World Cup winner), Jay-Jay Okocha (Nigeria, played at three World Cups), Ali Daei (Iran, scored 109 goals in 13-year national team career), and Tim Cahill (Australia, owns goalscoring record with 50 goals).
We also witnessed a special performance of the first single from the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 official soundtrack. “Hayya Hayya, Better Together” was performed by Trinidad Cardona, Davido, and Aisha.
Now on to the good stuff, the draw!
World Cup teams by groups:
Group A: Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands
Group B: England, Iran, USA, European Playoff
Group C: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland
Group D: France, Intercontinental Playoff 1, Denmark, Tunisia
Group E: Spain, Intercontinental Playoff 2, Germany, Japan
Group F: Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia
Group G: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon
Group H: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, Korea
As seen above, the USA is set in Group B with England, Iran, and the winner of the European Playoff between Wales and the winner of Scotland/Ukraine. The grouping is an interesting one, as America’s men’s side has a far different history from its female counterparts. The U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) boasts four Women’s World Cup titles and is expected to win every match, tournament, and friendly, they take part in. The men’s team, however, has never made it past the quarterfinal stage of the men’s FIFA World Cup. So when you see how the draw panned out for the U.S., it’s really easy to get excited (because they need all the help they can get). But I’ll explain why you should proceed with cautious optimism.
The USA is stacked with talent, without a doubt, but without a clear barometer of how to measure standards that are deserving of a national team spot, they’ve been plagued with a forever-changing roster. During their three-match stint that just ended recently, they played without stars Weston McKinnie, Sergiño Dest, Matt Turner, and Brenden Aaronson (due to injuries). Do we go with the players used in their absence? Can they work their way back? Luckily, Gio Reyna was fit enough to participate in their last two matches, but when it comes time to choose a roster to go to Qatar, there cannot be any mistakes.
Nobody seems to want to address the planet-sized hole at the striker position so I’ll just go there myself. Where’s Daryl Dike? The closest thing the USMNT has had in a true striker in a long time hasn’t been called up in the past few World Cup Qualifying cycles and that’s a problem. Manager Greg Berhalter has bought into the Ricardo Pepi hype and, in my opinion, he doesn’t show up enough. Against a Costa Rica squad without stars Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell, the USA lost 2-0 in a match plagued with mistakes. So blasting teams like Panama (5-1) and Honduras (3-0) just aren’t going to cut it.
A Helping Hand
When it comes to the grouping, the USA got the biggest helping hand they could’ve asked for. If I had my choice to face a clear No. 1 team, I most definitely would’ve chosen England (an opponent we know well and were previously grouped with in 2010 in South Africa). Teams like Brazil, Belgium, Spain, and France are just too loaded with talent for the U.S. to take on. When it comes to England, they’re known for making as many gaffs as the USA, so we might have a chance at drawing or even beating them.
Clashing With Iran
Facing the Islamic Republic of Iran won’t be a cakewalk either. If they can play a mistake-free match against the U.S., it would definitely be possible for a draw. While their roster might be unknown to some, I can tell you here and now, that they do have a crop of legit ballers that play in Europe. Their starting goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand for example plays for Boavista in Portugal, Alireza Jahanbakhsh is a midfielder for Dutch giants Feyenoord, and Milad Mohammadi and Ehsan Hajsafi (Captain) play defender and midfielder, respectively, for Greek club AEK Athens. Once you add the decades-worth of political tension between the USA and Iran, you’ll see why it should be a worthwhile matchup. Looking at straight talent and figures, yes, the USA should win. But football is one of those sports where anything can happen in 90 minutes and no opponent should be overlooked.
The absolute worst thing that can happen for the USA is that the European Playoff winner is Ukraine. To be pitted against a team that the entire planet is supporting is not an ideal situation, and to be fair, the USMNT already has enough pressure mounting on them.
The tournament starts on Monday, November 21 at 5:00am ET with hosts Qatar facing Ecuador.
Group Stage: Nov. 21 – Dec. 2
Round of 16: Dec. 3 – 6
Quarterfinals: Dec. 9 – 10
Semifinals: Dec. 13 – 14
Third-Place Match: Dec. 17
Final: Dec. 18
As of right now, the U.S. will face the European Playoff winner on Nov. 21, England on Nov. 25, and Iran on Nov. 29.
Feel free to have a look at the full schedule HERE
Photos: Courtesy of FIFA 2022