All to play for in Qatar for our World Cup stars

Mitoma's Japan, Trossard's Belgium and our three Ecuadorians all face crucial group stage finales.

28 November 2022

By Mohamed Messara/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Alexis Mac Allister breaks forward in Argentina's 2-0 win over Mexico

Most of Albion’s eight participants at the World Cup know that their participation in the knockout stages will depend on the outcome of their countries’ final group games.

Kaoru Mitoma of Japan and Belgium’s Leo Trossard came on in Sunday’s matches, but neither could prevent their countries from suffering shock defeats as Japan went down 1-0 to Costa Rica in Group E and the Red Devils were on the end of an even bigger upset in Group F as they lost 2-0 to Morocco.

Japan have the insurance of their 2-1 win over Germany but will almost certainly need to get something from their final group game against Spain on Thursday and the same applies to Belgium, who also have three points from two matches. They take on Croatia and will need to win if they are to top the group.

By Manu Fernandez/AP/Shutterstock
Leandro Trossard assesses his options in Belgium's defeat against Morocco.

Alexis Mac Allister was thrilled to make his World Cup debut and help Argentina get their campaign back on track in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Mexico. The midfielder played for 68 minutes and will hope he did enough to keep his place for Wednesday’s must-win finale against Poland.

Things are a bit more straightforward for our three Ecuadorians in Group A. If they avoid defeat against Senegal on Tuesday, they will progress but victory could see them emerge as section winners and avoid a potential clash with England in the second round. Both Moises Caicedo and Pervis Estupinan have played in the matches against Qatar and Holland while Jeremy Sarmiento has come on and made an impact from the bench in both matches.

By Manu Fernandez/AP/Shutterstock
Tariq Lamptey made his World Cup debut in Ghana's defeat to Portugal.

Rob Sanchez has been an unused substitute for Spain’s two games so far against Costa Rica and Germany while Tariq Lamptey came off the bench in Ghana’s 3-2 defeat to Portugal in their opener. The Black Stars face South Korea on Monday knowing defeat would mean an early exit from the tournament. Ex-Albion boss Chris Hughton is among Ghana’s coaching staff.

By Eugene Hoshiko/AP/Shutterstock
Kaoru Mitoma made an impression off the bench, but Japan lost 1-0 to Costa Rica.

It’s not just current Albion players who are impressing in Qatar. Aaron Mooy and Maty Ryan helped Australia to an important 1-0 win over Tunisia which sets up a crucial confrontation with Denmark in Group D on Wednesday with the winners guaranteed to progress.

Defender Sam Adekugbe, who had a handful of games with us during a loan spell in 2016 from Vancouver Whitecaps, came off the bench for Canada in Sunday’s 4-1 defeat to Croatia, which ended their hopes of reaching the knockout stages. Another former Albion player Alireza Jahanbakhsh is suspended for Iran's final group match against United States, where victory will see them qualify almost certainly at the expense of their opponents.