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Qatar World Cup 2022 Countdown series: Group H Preview

Beginning on Nov. 20, the most popular global sports event will kick off in Qatar: the 2022 FIFA World Cup. For the team at Sports24, the 2022 edition gives an opportunity to provide analysis on the global extravaganza and finally showcase the best football has to offer. The Countdown Series will preview all groups:

Group H feels like a bunch of ageing rock stars getting it together for one last tour. Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Godin are all well into their 30s, while Son Heung-min will also be 30 by the time Qatar 2022 kicks off. Son might have another World Cup in him with South Korea in 2026, but this really feels like the farewell tournament for Portugal’s Ronaldo and Uruguay’s long-serving stars. And they have all ended up in a really tough group, with a young and emerging Ghana team likely to make it a four-way battle for qualification.

Qatar 2022 will see Cristiano Ronaldo compete in what could be his World Cup finale, and he has a real chance of making the latter stages, as Portugal arguably look like the strongest side in Group H. Ronaldo and his teammates will be joined by Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea in the group stage. Two-time World Cup winners Uruguay are the second highest-ranked team in the group, and will be hoping to replicate their 2018 form, where they reached the quarterfinals before exiting to eventual champions France. African powerhouse Ghana qualified by beating Nigeria, while South Korea and their talismanic striker Son Heung-min will also look to unsettle the perceived bigger footballing heavyweights — just as they did by beating Germany at Russia 2018.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, Luis Suarez of Uruguay, and Son Heung-Min of South Korea are three of the tournament’s star players who will face each other at the World Cup. With over 200 goals between them, it’s fair to say that Group H is awash with A-List strikers. Group H’s other team, Ghana, may not have the same star quality in their forward line, but don’t rule out the African nation from progressing out of one of the most competitive groups in the World Cup.

Group H Dates, Times and Locations

  • Thursday, November 24th
  • 14:00 Uruguay v South Korea – Education City Stadium
  • 17:00 Portugal v Ghana – Stadium 974
  • Monday, November 28th
  • 14:00 South Korea v Ghana – Education City Stadium
  • 20:00 Portugal v Uruguay – Lusail Stadium
  • Friday, December 2nd
  • 16:00 South Korea v Portugal – Education City Stadium
  • 16:00 Ghana v Uruguay – Al Janoub Stadium

Must-see match: Portugal vs. Uruguay

Two stunning goals by Cavani sealed a 2-1 win for Uruguay when the two sides met in the second round in Sochi in 2018, and this one might be a case of former Manchester United teammates Cavani and Ronaldo facing off to keep their World Cup dreams alive — with the ever-present menace of Suarez offering a sub-plot.

Portugal: ‘The Last Dance’ for Cristiano Ronaldo

100e but avec le Portugal : Cristiano Ronaldo se rapproche du record -  Eurosport

At 37 years old, Cristiano Ronaldo is the second oldest outfield player in the Premier League. Second only to Chelsea’s Thiago Silva. The man is quite simply a phenomenon and will be looking to create more history at the World Cup later this year. The Portuguese forward played in the 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018 World Cups and scored in each game. During this World Cup, he hopes to break records by becoming the first player ever to score in five different World Cups.

Despite his advanced age, in football terms, he’s still the go-to man for Portugal. Despite critics suggesting his star is on the wane, few would bet against him once more, inspiring his nation to improbable success. Sama Fabrice told Sports24, “He’s a guy that likes the pressure and likes that everybody is against him. Maybe this is ‘The Last Dance’ for him like Michael Jordan. We know that he is not the player he was five or ten years ago, but he scores the goals if the ball comes to him in the box. I think, in the knock-out stages and these types of games, he can be a top player and decide the matches.”

Portugal, as expected, managed to qualify for Qatar 2022 through the playoff path, defeating North Macedonia to ensure an appearance at the finals for the eighth time. Despite being regular competitors on this stage, though, they have yet to win it.

For all their attacking talent, defensively is where Portugal have been most convincing, having conceded just seven times in qualifying.

Current FIFA world ranking: No. 9 (October, 2022)

Regional ranking: 7th (UEFA)

Honours: Euro 2016, UEFA Nations League 2019

World Cup titles: —

Best Result: Third place (1966)

World Cup appearances (last): 7 (Russia 2018)

How they qualified: (UEFA playoff winners: (2-0 vs. North Macedonia)

Jerseys: Home and Away (Maroon and Green/White)

Date released: September 15, 2022

Kit manufacturer: Nike

Coach: Fernando Santos (Portugal) since September, 2014

Key players: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United/England), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United / England), Joao Cancelo (Manchester City / England)

The next big thing: Rafael Leao (AC Milan)

Strengths: Ronaldo, Ruben Dias, Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva. These four players form the spine of Santos’ side.

Weaknesses: A lack of speed in behind their defence has been an issue at times. Balance in midfield has also presented problems. Ronaldo’s lack of game time at United this season could dull his impact.

Latest squad: 4-0 v Czech Republic; 0-1 v Spain

Diogo Costa (Porto), Rui Patrício (Roma), Jose Sa (Wolves), Joao Cancelo (Manchester City), Diogo Dalot (Manchester United), Nuno Mendes (PSG), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Tiago Djalo (Lille), Pepe (Porto), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund), Danilo Pereira (PSG), Joao Palhinha (Fulham), Matheus Nunes (Wolves), William Carvalho (Real Betis), Ruben Neves (Wolves), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Joao Mario (Benfica), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Vitinha (PSG), Joao Felix (Atlético Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Diogo Jota (Liverpool), Pedro Neto (Wolves), Rafa Silva (Benfica), Rafael Leao (AC Milan), Ricardo Horta (Braga)

Santos made the call to leave Joao Moutinho out of the September Nations League games, while Renato Sanches, Pedro Goncalves, Nelson Semedo and Fabio Carvalho are all hoping to be heading to Qatar. Diogo Jota has now been ruled out with a calf injury, along with Wolves forward Pedro Neto, while Pepe and Nuno Mendes are both in a race against time.

 Uruguay: Will age and experience prove to be a good thing?

For Uruguay, it’s a similar dilemma to Portugal. Their ageing squad look set for one last hurrah on the international stage. Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani are two of the greatest players in Uruguayan history, but are their best days behind them?

The Uruguayans, however, have a big-match mentality and a never say die attitude. Perhaps best illustrated in the epic 2010 encounter with Ghana. The match has been dubbed one of the most controversial moments in World Cup history. Luis Suarez handled the ball in the last minute of extra time to deny the Africans a place in the semi-final. Ghana missed the resulting penalty, and the subsequent penalty shoot-out dashed the hopes of African glory in Soweto.

Sakwe Stanley recalls the dramatic evening in South Africa. “My main memory of the game is feeling the force of the pan-African support. Uruguay was not just taking on a nation. They were taking on a continent. It’s the kind of backs to the wall situation that Uruguay enjoys so much. So often, Uruguay have played against the hosts – or the team the hosts are cheering on – and they’ve enjoyed pouring water in the hosts’ champagne. There’s always been a huge character in the side, and sometimes it’s a little bit like the old boxer Joe Frazier. The harder it is, the more they like it.”

Although Uruguay’s squad is a talented one, recent times have been inconsistent for La Celeste, who were eliminated at the quarterfinals of the Copa America last year having hoped for much more. Uruguay also got to the last eight at the 2018 World Cup, where eventual winners France edged them out. The South Americans do consistently produce players capable of individual brilliance, and that will be no different in Qatar. Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez and veterans Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez are at opposite ends of their careers, but all are more than able to pose a major threat in front of goal. How to balance them remains the question, along with the fitness of talismanic defender Diego Godin, whose injury problems ruled him out of the September friendlies.

Liverpool's scouts compared Nunez to Cavani

Current FIFA world ranking: No. 14 (October, 2022)

Regional ranking: 3rd (CONMEBOL)

Honours: World Cup 1930, 1950, Copa America 15 times, Olympics 1924, 1928

World Cup titles: 2

Best Result: First place (1930, 1950)

World Cup appearances (last): 14 (Russia 2018)

How they qualified: (CONMEBOL third place: 8W-6L-4D)

Jerseys: Home and Away (Blue/White)

Date released: September 2022

Kit manufacturer: Puma

Coach: Diego Alonso (Uruguay) since December, 2021

Key players: Darwin Nunez (Liverpool/ England), Luis Suarez (Nacional / Uruguay), Federico Valverde (Real Madrid/ Spain)

The next big thing: Ronald Araujo (Barcelona)

Strengths: Team defence. In nine international matches under Alonso, Uruguay have only conceded two goals.

Weaknesses: If Araujo is not fit enough by the opening match, it could prove a major blow. Luis Suarez, is Alonso ready to bench the captain and most recognizable face on the team?

    Latest squad: 2-0 Canada; 0-1 v Iran

Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Sergio Rochet (Nacional), Guillermo de Amores (Lanus), Sebastian Sosa (Independiente),Santiago Mele (Union), Gaston Olveira (Olimpia), Jose Gimenez (Atletico Madrid), Ronald Araujo (Barcelona), Federico Pereira (Liverpool Montevideo), Agustin Rogel (Hertha Berlin), Damian Suarez (Getafe), Bruno Mendez (Corinthians), Leandro Cabrera (Espanyol), Matias Vina (Roma), Sebastian Coates (Sporting Lisbon), Martin Caceres (LA Galaxy), Mathias Olivera (Napoli), Guillermo Varela (Flamengo), Sebastian Caceres (America), Joaquin Piquerez (Palmeiras), Manuel Ugarte (Sporting CP), Rodrigo Bentancur (Tottenham), Nicolas de la Cruz (River Plate), Giorgian de Arrascaeta (Flamengo), Lucas Torreira (Galatasaray), Federico Valverde (Real Madrid), Matias Vecino (Lazio), Mauro Arambarri (Getafe), Fernando Gorriaran (Santos Laguna), Rodrigo Zalazar (Schalke), Diego Rossi (Fenerbahce), Luis Suarez (Nacional), Darwin Nunez (Liverpool), Maxi Gomez (Trabzonspor), Facundo Torres (Orlando City), Edinson Cavani (Valencia), Facundo Pellistri (Manchester United), Agustin Alvarez (Sassuolo), Agustin Canobbio (Athletico Paranaense), Brian Ocampo (Cadiz), Martin Satriano (Empoli)

Alonso is yet to find the right blend since he replaced Oscar Tabarez last year. Uruguay can call upon Suarez, Cavani and Nunez but time is running out to find a formula to get the best out of the trio – it certainly didn’t work in the shock defeat to Iran. Diego Godin missed those friendlies and the veteran centre-back’s influence appears to be waning.

 South Korea: Son Heung-Min, the main hope

South Korea breathes sigh of relief after Son Heung-min ends 'silence' | South  Korea | The Guardian

South Korea’s 2018 campaign was a case of ‘too little, too late’. Defeats against Sweden and Mexico looked like an inevitable exit. In their last group game, they took on the reigning champions, Germany and clinched the game with a 2-0 victory. Son Heung-min scored the second goal in that game, and four years later, he is his country’s main man once again. After another successful Premier League campaign with Tottenham, the South Korean forward is looking to continue his impressive form into the second half of the year.

Lukong Beltus, knows how important he is to the team. “They can over depend on him, of course, but his quality shines through. He’s scored pretty much one in every three games. He’s the captain and their hero.”

Not since 1982 have South Korea failed to appear at a World Cup and that streak will continue with Paulo Bento’s team competing in Qatar.

South Korea finished second in a tough third-round qualification group, beaten only in the final fixture with a place at the finals already assured. Prior to that, Bento’s side went on a seven-match winning run, and they will be hoping for similar momentum at the World Cup, where they will be looking to make it out of the group stage for the first time since 2010.

Son Heung-min is South Korea’s most obvious difference-maker, but Wolves’ Hwang Hee-chan is also an important figure for the Tigers of Asia. South Korea’s best World Cup performance saw them reach the semi-finals on home soil in 2002 — can they match that result in the Middle East?

Current FIFA world ranking: No. 28 (October, 2022)

Regional ranking: 3rd (AFC)

Honours: Asian Cup 1956, 1960, Asian Games 1970, 1978, 1986, EAFF Championship 5 times

World Cup titles: —

Best Result: Fourth place (2002)

World Cup appearances (last): 10 (Russia 2018)

How they qualified: AFC Third Round Group A runners-up 7W-L1-D2

Jerseys: Home and Away (Red/Multi)

Date released: September 15, 2022

Kit manufacturer: Nike

Coach: Paulo Bento (Portugal) since August, 2018

Key players: Son Heung-min (Tottenham / England), Hwang Hee-chan (Wolves / England), Kim Min-jae (Napoli / Italy)

The next big thing: Kim Min-jae (Napoli)

Strengths: Attack. Son Heung-min and Hwang Hee-chan can hurt any defence.

Weaknesses: Defence. Apart from Kim Min-jae, the rest are relative unknowns.

Latest squad: 1-0 v Cameroon; 2-2 v Costa Rica

Kim Seung-gyu (Al-Shabab), Jo Hyeon-woo (Ulsan Hyundai), Song Bum-keun (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Kim Jin-su (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Hong Chul (Daegu FC), Kim Moon-hwan (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Kim Young-gwon (Ulsan Hyundai), Kwon Kyung-won (Gamba Osaka), Kim Tae-hwan (Ulsan Hyundai), Cho Yu-min (Daejon Hana Citizen), Kim Min-jae (Napoli), Yoon Jong-gyu (FC Seoul), Jung Woo-young (Al-Sadd), Lee Jae-sung (Mainz), Hwang In-beom (Olympiacos), Na Sang-ho (FC Seoul), Paik Seung-ho (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Hwang Hee-chan (Wolves), Kwon Chang-hoon (Gimcheon Sangmu), Paik Seung-ho (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Son Jun-ho (Shandong Taishan), Jeong Woo-yeong (Freiburg), Lee Kang-in (Mallorca), Yanh Hyun-jun (Gangwon FC), Son Heung-min (Tottenham), Hwang Ui-jo (Olympiacos), Cho Gue-sung (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors)

Ghana: Revenge?

Ghana-Afrique du Sud : Qatar 2022, ticket des Black Stars pour le dernier  tour sur grogne des Bafana Bafana - KOACI

2022 offers an opportunity for redemption for Ghana following their heartbreak against Uruguay in 2010. Had Asamoah Gyan scored a last-minute penalty, they would have reached their first-ever World Cup semi-final. The highlight of the West African nation’s disappointing campaign four years later was that they were the only team to prevent Germany from winning every match at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

After suffering a humiliating early exit at the Africa Cup of Nations, manager, Milovan Rajevac was dismissed before their World Cup Play-Off. Otto Addo was appointed interim manager, and an away goal win over Nigeria secured Ghana their place at a fourth World Cup. They may not have the star names of the past like Abedi Pele and Tony Yeboah but perhaps travelling to Qatar without that increased expectation will help them secure a spot in the last 16.

Ghana will be present in Qatar following a valiant effort in the qualifying rounds, cementing a place in the tournament for the first time since 2014.

Despite not having as many household names in the current squad compared to the 2010 and 2014 editions, players such as Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey and young Ajax talent Mohammed Kudus will both be stars to keep an eye on as the tournament gets underway.

Grit and determination are two qualities that are instilled into the fabric of this Ghana side, who lost just two of their 10 fixtures in 2021, but a poor Africa Cup of Nations campaign — in which they exited at the group stage without a win — means there is a point to prove back on the major stage.

Current FIFA world ranking: No. 61 (October, 2022)

Regional ranking: 11th (CAF)

Honours: AFCON 1963, 1965, 1978, 1982

World Cup titles: —

Best Result: Quarter-finals (2010)

World Cup appearances (last): 4 (Brazil 2014)

How they qualified: (CAF Third Round winners: (agg 1-1 vs. Nigeria, Ghana win on away goals)

Jerseys: Home and Away (White/Red)

Date released: September 2022

Kit manufacturer: Puma

Coach: Otto Addo (Ghana) since January 2022 — interim

Key players: Thomas Partey (Arsenal / England), Mohammed Kudus (Ajax / Netherlands), Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace / England)

The next big thing: Abdul Fatawu Issahaku (Sporting CP)

Strengths: Ghana are very deep defensively, with a number of top players to count on. The attack is also deep, featuring a host of young talent.

Weaknesses: While Partey’s presence in midfield gives Ghana an edge, the rest of the options behind the Arsenal man are thin.

Latest squad: 0-3 v Brazil; 1-0 v Nicaragua

Richard Ofori (Orlando Pirates), Joe Wollacott (Swindon), Abdul Manaf Nurudeen (Eupen), Denis Odoi (Club Brugge), Tariq Lamptey (Brighton), Alidu Seidu (Clermont), Joseph Aidoo (Celta Vigo), Gideon Mensah (Bordeaux), Daniel Amartey (Leicester), Alexander Djiku (Strasbourg), Abdul-Rahman Baba (Reading), Mohammed Salisu (Southampton), Stephan Ambrosius (Karlsruher), Thomas Partey (Arsenal), Iddrisu Baba (Real Mallorca), Elisha Owusu (Gent), Daniel-Kofi Kyereh (St Pauli), Mohammed Kudus (Ajax), Andre Ayew (Al Saad), Osman Bukari (Nantes), Kamaldeen Sulemana (Rennes), Daniel Afriyie Barnieh (Hearts of Oak), Ransford-Yeboah Konigsdorffer (Hamburg), Antoine Semenyo (Bristol City), Abdul Fatawu Issahaku (Sporting CP), Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace), Felix Afena-Gyan (Roma), Inaki Williams (Athletic Bilbao), Benjamin Tetteh (Hull)

Ghana will boast plenty of Premier League and EFL representation but it is possible that the Black Stars could be working on convincing Callum Hudson-Odoi and Jeffrey Schlupp to represent them in Qatar.


A bittersweet farewell could be in store for some of the world’s best players. There is no doubt that whoever makes it out of this extremely competitive group will have high hopes of going all the way in Qatar.


Elume Raymond

Twitter: @elumeraymond

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