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World Cup absentees: The best players not going to the 2022 finals

| 11.04.2022

The most notable 2022 World Cup absentees

While the World Cup in Qatar later this year is sure to be a star-studded event, there will be some big names missing from the action.

Qualifying matches over the last few days mean 27 teams have now qualified but those games ended the hopes of a number of notable players, adding to some already confirmed as World Cup absentees.

Here we look at eight high-profile individuals who will not be part of the tournament that kicks off in November.

Mohamed Salah

It was a case of deja vu for Salah on Tuesday as Egypt were beaten on penalties in their play-off by Senegal, with his fellow Liverpool forward Sadio Mane scoring the decisive spot-kick – just had been the case in February’s Africa Cup of Nations final.

Skipper Salah was among those unsuccessful from the spot as the Pharaohs failed to secure a second successive World Cup qualification.

Erling Haaland

The Manchester City-linked Borussia Dortmund striker, scorer of 15 goals in 17 international appearances, will not feature in Qatar after Norway finished third in their qualifying group.

The team have not qualified for a World Cup or European Championship in his lifetime. Haaland was born a few days after the end of Euro 2000, their last major tournament.


Having been on a high last summer when they won the Euros, Jorginho – who came third in the 2021 Ballon d’Or voting – and his Italy team-mates suffered a huge shock on Thursday as they were beaten 1-0 at home by North Macedonia in their qualifying play-off semi-final.

With the Azzurri having also missed out on the 2018 edition, the 30-year-old Chelsea midfielder is again added to the list of World Cup absentees.

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David Alaba

Real Madrid defender Alaba is another player yet to feature in a World Cup, something that will not change this year after Austria lost 2-1 to Wales in their play-off semi-final, courtesy of his club-mate Gareth Bale’s brace.

The team last played at a World Cup in 1998.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

It appears Ibrahimovic, Sweden’s record scorer, has had his final World Cup appearance, with the team losing 2-0 to Poland in their play-off on Tuesday.

The 40-year-old AC Milan striker featured at three editions – 2002, 2006 and 2018.

James Rodriguez

The Colombian was arguably the star of the World Cup in 2014 when he won the Golden Boot in Brazil with six goals despite his team being eliminated at the quarter-final stage.

He has failed to fulfil the potential he showed then, though, and a difficult few seasons recently continued with Colombia’s failure to qualify for what would have been a third successive World Cup finals for Rodriguez.

Alexis Sanchez

One of Chile’s greatest ever players will be denied one final World Cup appearance after their failure to make it through South American qualifying.

Sanchez helped Chile reach the round of 16 in 2014 but missed out in 2018 and have done so again after losing 2-0 to Uruguay this week. At 33, this was likely to be the former Arsenal and Manchester United man’s last chance to return to the finals.

Riyad Mahrez

The Manchester City winger is still on track for a Premier League and Champions League double this season but the year will end with his name on the list of World Cup absentees.

Algeria were 1-0 up from the away leg of their play-off against Cameroon but went 1-0 down in the return match. The Desert Foxes equalised on the night late in extra time to seemingly book their trip to Qatar, only for Cameroon to strike in stoppage time and go through on away goals.

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Andrew McDermott