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June 29 2022 6.05pm

Three Eagles Who Could Feature at the 2022 Fifa World Cup

June 13 2022

Jordan Ayew

Jordan Ayew

The next episode of football’s biggest party is just a few short months away, and for the first time in history, it will be taking place during the winter, writes Roland Duffin.

In fact, had the competition gone ahead as originally scheduled, it would be getting underway imminently.

But alas, courtesy of the blistering temperatures in Qatar during the tournament's regular slot midsummer - which can reach as high as the mid 40’s - the competition will now take place during the winter, in November and December specifically.

It seems irrational to think that another edition of the World Cup is just around the corner. It feels like barely a minute since the then 19-year-old wonderkid named Kylian Mbappe was hammering home in Moscow’s showpiece, sealing a second crown for France in the process.

But here we are, four years on, and oddschecker, who compares online bookmakers providing free World Cup offers believes that Didier Deschamps’ side will become the first nation to retain the trophy in over 60 years. 

That will no doubt make Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieria a happy man. The 107-time France international came off the bench to help his country lift their maiden world crown back in 1998, on home soil nonetheless.

He then started the final in Berlin eight years later. However, he was on the losing side on that occasion, beaten on penalties by Italy after Zinedine Zidane’s moment of madness. There’s no doubting that Vieria has assembled one of the greatest Palace squads in memory, winning many plaudits along the way as his side secured a 12th place finish, their best finish in over three years.

And the brand of football he has implemented is a far cry from what the home faithful used to watch under Roy Hodgson. His young starlets are now very highly sought after, and here are three that could feature heavily in Qatar this winter.  

Jordan Ayew - Ghana

The upcoming World Cup is a competition of major significance for The Black Stars. Firstly, it’s the first time they’ve qualified in eight years that they will be making an appearance. They missed out on a spot in Russia four years ago after qualifying for three tournaments on the bounce between 2006-2014.

But more importantly, Qatar will represent the first time they’ve had a shot at redemption after that fateful evening in Johannesburg 12 years ago, when the hand of Luis Suarez denied them the chance of becoming the first African team to ever reach the semifinals of the FIFA World Cup.

Make no mistake about it, Ghana are not the side they were in years gone by. Gone are the days of Asamoah Gyan and Michael Essien. Their hopes rely solely on Crystal Palace striker Jordan Ayew and his brother, Andre.

The brothers - who are the sons of Abedi Pele, one of the greatest players to come from the continent of Africa - are the brightest lights in an otherwise average squad, and if they are to gain redemption against the South Americans, those two will have to be at their very best.

We all know that Palace’s Ayew is capable of the spectacular, just take a look at his goal against West Ham back in 2019. But he struggled for form and goals last season, losing his place in the team toward the end of the campaign to Frenchmen Odsonne Edouard and Jean-Philippe Mateta. Manager Otto Addo will be hoping that the former Marseille man will be able to produce his best this winter.

Cheikhou Kouyaté - Senegal 

Holding-midfielder Kouyaté is another Palace star that struggled for form towards the end of the last Premier League campaign.

Other than the international duty in January, the former Senegal captain featured in all but two games, before losing his spot in the first team, appearing just twice in the club’s final six games. But it’s a different story for the national team, who are riding the crest of a wave right now.

He missed just one game as the Lions of Teranga lifted the African Cup of Nations for the first time in their history. And in a few months, they will be aiming to right the wrongs of four years ago, as they exited the World Cup at the group stage despite leading Group H heading into the final round of fixtures.

This time around, they have a realistic chance of progressing to the second round, after being drawn with the Netherlands, Ecuador and hosts Qatar.

If they do progress, it will probably be as runners-up to the Dutch, which will set up a mouth-watering second-round tussle with England. With stars in their team such as Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly and Edouard Mendy, progressing past Aliou Cisse’s Afrian champions will be no easy feat for the Three Lions.

Marc Guéhi - England 

There were more than a few eyebrows raised last summer when the Eagles forked out £21m for the services of Chelsea Under-21’s Marc Guéhi. The centre-back had never made a single Premier League appearance for the Blues, featuring just twice in the EFL Cup.

But two impressive loan spells with Championship side Swansea City - where the 21-year-old made 59 appearances as the Welsh side twice reached the playoffs - meant that the Ivory Coast-born defender was a wanted man last summer. And have Palace ever made a better signing?

Guéhi has been an absolute sensation since his arrival at Selhurst Park, forming a formidable defensive partnership with Dane Joachim Andersen and featuring in all but two of his side's Premier League fixtures last season.

He forced his way into the England setup back in March, making his debut in the 2-1 win over Switzerland at Wembley and once again being called up for this summer's Nations League fixtures.

If the plight of Manchester United captain Harry Maguire continues at the start of next term, there’s a great chance that Palace’s young star could start England’s opening game against Iran, and what a story that would be.

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