From South Korea's Son Heung-min, Croatia's Joško Gvardiol, Tunisia's Ellyes Skhiri, Belgium's Thomas Meunier to Iran's Alireza Beiranvand, several players have been spotted wearing unusual face masks on the pitch during the FIFA World Cup 2022 matches in Qatar, drawing comparisons to Batman and the Phantom of the Opera. The masks, made from materials like polycarbonate, are leaving social media users curious as to why the footballers are sporting the black shields. But it's not a fashion statement. When football players suffer facial injuries, they frequently don protective masks. Some of these masks are 3D printed, enabling them to be customised to each player's facial features. Read more: France's Benzema ruled out of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Players such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Fernando Torres, and Antonio Rudiger wore face masks before. RB Leipzig centre-back Gvardiol sported a black protective mask during the Group F match against Morocco and Canada. The reason for the 20-year-old sporting the face covering is he had a collision with teammate Willi Orban in a Bundesliga match on November 10, with scans later showing he had broken his nose and suffered minor injuries to his face and eyes. Also read: Neymar to miss Brazil’s second World Cup match due to injury In a similar on-field collision, Son suffered a fracture in his face, specifically around the eye socket, while playing for Tottenham during a November 1 Champions League win against Marseille. The 30-year-old winger also stepped onto the field against Uruguay and Ghana, donning a black carbon fibre mask. FC Köln midfielder Ellyes donned a mask against Denmark and Australia in Group D. The 27-year-old is nursing a broken cheekbone after suffering an injury in October. Read More: Qatari bathrobes’: German commentator under fire for disparaging remark about traditional attire Belgium's Borussia Dortmund star Thomas Meunier was also seen wearing a mask against the Red Devils' match against Canada. In Dortmund's match against Hannover 96 earlier this season, the defender fractured his cheekbone and had to undergo surgery.
Germany forward Niclas Füllkrug salvaged a 1-1 draw against Spain on Sunday at the World Cup. The Germans still need to win their last group match to have a chance of advancing to the knockout stage. The four-time champions were eliminated in the group stage four years ago in Russia. Germany will next face Costa Rica, which defeated Japan 1-0 earlier Sunday. Even a win may not be enough for the Germans, who are in last place in Group E and need the other result to go their way. Read more: World Cup: Costa Rica beat Japan 1-0 making things easier for Spain, Germany Spain can reach the last 16 with a draw against Japan. Álvaro Morata put Spain ahead in the 62nd minute and Füllkrug equalized for Germany in the 83rd. The match between the pre-tournament favorites was one of the most anticipated in the group stage. Spain tried to control the pace of the game with ball possession but wasn’t able to create many opportunities, while Germany was able to threaten sporadically with breakaways and set pieces. Read more: Young Spain bring back 'tiki-taka' at World Cup
Lionel Messi played in front of 88,966 spectators on Saturday when Argentina beat Mexico 2-0, the largest attendance at a World Cup match in 28 years. The Lusail Stadium north of Doha, which will stage the final on Dec. 18, hosted the most people at the World Cup since the 1994 final in the United States, according to FIFA. There were 91,194 people at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, to see Brazil beat Italy in that penalty shootout after a 0-0 draw. Read More: FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: Will Brazil’s Samba dance continue without Neymar? Saturday’s attendance was several hundred more than the figure for the two previous games at Lusail Stadium, when Brazil beat Serbia and Argentina lost to Saudi Arabia. Qatar’s attendance figures do not rank in the top 30 of all-time World Cup matches. The largest crowd was 173,850 inside the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro in 1950 for Uruguay’s 2-1 victory over host Brazil in the final game of that tournament. Read More: Despite not knowing where he'll play beyond Qatar, Ronaldo eyes glory in possibly his last World Cup Other stadiums figuring in the top-30 list are the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, Wembley Stadium in London and the Camp Nou in Barcelona. However, Saturday's Messi-led Argentina vs Mexico contest in the Qatar World Cup attracted 88,966 spectators, which was the largest in the past three decades.
Lionel Messi came up with another crucial goal for Argentina in a 2-0 win over Mexico on Saturday that ignited the team’s World Cup chances. Messi took a touch from Angel Di Maria’s pass across the face of the area and drove a low shot from 25 meters (yards) into the bottom corner in the 64th minute. He ran toward Argentina’s fans with his arms outstretched arms before getting mobbed by his jubilant teammates. He looked emotional as he grabbed and shook his jersey, then blew a kiss to the crowd. Substitute Enzo Fernandez added a second goal in the 87th minute. Read more: Argentina Squad analysis for 2022 World Cup in Qatar Argentina bounced back from a shocking 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia in its opening match. The team is in second place in Group C ahead of its last match against Poland on Wednesday. The 35-year-old Messi is likely playing in his last World Cup, which is the only major title missing from his collection. Read more: ‘Now's the time to be more united than ever’: Messi after Argentina's shocking defeat to Saudi Arabia It was an eighth World Cup goal for Messi — the same number scored in the tournament by rival Cristiano Ronaldo and also Diego Maradona, the Argentina great with whom he is so often compared. For some, Messi needs to win the World Cup to join the ranks of Pele and Maradona as soccer’s greatest ever players. Thanks to this win, it could still happen. Until his goal, Messi was enduring a frustrating match, finding himself with two defenders on him each time he received the ball. Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni made five changes from the Saudi Arabia game in a bid to inject some more energy into the team but they initially made little difference. The momentum of the game changed completely after Messi’s goal, his 93rd in internationals and his second of the tournament after a penalty against Saudi Arabia.
Bashundhara Kings and Sheikh Russell reached the semifinals of the new season's curtain raiser football tournament, the Bashundhara Group Independence Cup 2022, beating opponents in the quarterfinals Friday. In the semifinals Wednesday, Sheikh Russell will play the winners of the Dhaka Abahani and Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi match. Dhaka Abahani and Sheikh Jamal will lock horns in the quarterfinal Sunday. In the other semifinal Thursday, Bashundhara King will play the winners of the Muktijoddha Sangsad and Bangladesh Police match. Muktijoddha and Police will face each other in another quarterfinal Sunday. READ: Ind Cup Football: Bashundhara Kings emerge group champions with all win record The final match will be held on Monday at the Shaheed Dhirendranath Dutta Stadium in Cumilla. In the day's first quarterfinal, Sheikh Russell beat Chittagong Abahani 1-0 at the Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni Stadium in Gopalganj. After a barren first half, Nigerian player Sunday Udoh scored the match-winning goal for Sheikh Russel in the 85th minute (1-0). In the day's other quarterfinal, Bashundhara Kings defeated Dhaka Mohammedan 2-0 at the Birshreshtha Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman Stadium in Munshiganj. Local forward Rakib Hossain and Kings' Brazilian striker and captain Robson Robinho scored for the winners, one in each half.
Richarlison scored two goals, the second with a spectacular acrobatic kick, to help Brazil beat Serbia 2-0 Thursday at the World Cup. In the 73rd minute, the striker used one touch to get the ball up in the air and then spun around and got off the ground before knocking the ball into the net with his right foot. Brazil had struggled to get past the Serbian defense until Richarlison scored from close range in the 62nd in a buildup that started with Neymar. Vinícius Júnior assisted on both goals. Neymar, seeking his first major title with Brazil, stayed at 75 goals for the national team, two shy of Pelé’s scoring record. Brazil coach Tite started with an attack-minded squad that included four forwards — Neymar, Vinícius Júnior, Raphinha and Richarlison. Attacking midfielder Lucas Paquetá played alongside Casemiro, the lone defensive midfielder. But Serbia had several players back and was able to keep Brazil from creating many significant opportunities. Neymar tried to control the pace but struggled to find space up front. He, Vinícius Júnior and Raphinha all squandered chances early on. Brazil’s best chance before Richarlison’s opening goal had been a low long-range shot by Alex Sandro that hit the post in the 60th. Neymar had his best opportunities with a free kick in the 50th and a shot from near the penalty spot in the 55th. The 30-year-old Neymar arrived to his third World Cup as Brazil’s main attraction. He helped the “Seleção” win the 2013 Confederations Cup and its first Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, but has yet to win a major title with the national team. Read more: Neymar Jr. on the verge of breaking Pele’s goalscoring record Brazil, trying to win its first World Cup in two decades, is unbeaten in its last 20 opening games, with 17 victories. It has finished first in its group in the last 10 World Cups. In the other Group G match, Switzerland defeated Cameroon 1-0. Brazil and Serbia also played in the group stage in 2018, with Brazil also winning 2-0 to reach the next stage at Serbia’s expense. Since competing as Serbia in 2010, the country has not advanced to the knockout rounds of the World Cup. Read more: Brazil Team Analysis for 2022 World Cup in Qatar
Bangladesh Police Football Club became the Group D champions to reach the quarterfinals of the new season's curtain raiser football tournament, the Bashundhara Group Independence Cup 2022, beating Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club 4-3 in their last group match Thursday. Despite the defeat at the Sheikh Fazlul Haque Stadium in Gopalganj, Sheikh Jamal finished group runners-up to reach the quarterfinals. In the quarterfinals Sunday, Group D champions Police will play Group C runners-up Muktijoddha Sangsad. Group D runners-up Sheikh Jamal will play Group C champions Dhaka Abahani on the same day. Read: Independence Cup Football: Dhaka Abahani, Muktijoddha make quarterfinals In the day's match, midfielder Kirmanee put Police in front in the ninth minute (1-0). Forward SM Bablu doubled the lead in the 22nd minute (2-0), and Malikov of Kyrgyzstan scored the third goal for Police in the 37th from a penalty (3-0). Ezekiel of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines struck two quick goals for Sheikh Jamal in the 38th and 43rd minutes (3-2). Panama forward Avila scored the fourth goal for Police FC in the 57th minute (4-2). Police defender Rasel scored an own goal in the 76th minute (4-3). In the day's other match, Rahmatganj Muslim Friends Society tasted victory in their third and last group match, outplaying Bangladesh Football Federation Elite Football Academy 3-1 at the Bir Shreshtha Matiur Rahman Stadium in Munshiganj Thursday afternoon. Read: Independence Cup Football: Air Force advance to final round Tajik forward Fatkhulo scored first for Rahmatganj in the 38th minute (1-0). Brazilian midfielder Morais doubled the lead in the 55th minute (2-0) and defender Saddam Hossain netted the third goal for the Old Dhaka outfit in the 55th minute (3-0). Local midfielder Asadul Mollah pulled one back for Elite Football Academy in the 77th minute (3-1).
O Canada, the wait remains. Alphonso Davies had the chance to score his nation’s first-ever World Cup goal, to grab a quick lead on Belgium. As Davies readied for the spot kick in the 11th minute after a hand ball, red-clad Canadian fans at the other end of Ahmed bin Ali Stadium buzzed in anticipation for a moment decades in the making. “You’re carrying the weight of a nation: 36 years of waiting — longer than 36 for our first goal,” coach John Herdman said. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois guessed correctly to dive right and batted Davis’ attempt with his forearm. The ball bounced away, and the Canadians never got any closer to scoring. Despite dominating the world’s second-ranked team in Canada’s first World Cup match since 1986, the Canadians fell to Belgium 1-0 Wednesday night as Michy Batshuayi scored on a quick counter in the 44th minute. Davies did not speak with media after the game. “He’s our star player. He’s one of the best players in the world. He’ll move on and he’ll have another chance and he’ll bury it,” midfielder Jonathan Osorio said. “There was also the best goalkeeper in the world in net he had to put it past.” Courtois had studied video of Davies. Read more: FIFA World Cup 2022: Mystery behind Saudi Arabia’s Win Against Argentina “He shot twice that side, so that’s why I decided to go that way,” Courtois said. A large part of the crowd of 40,432 in the Arabian desert stadium supported Canada. Many waved the Maple Leaf and they proudly sang “O Canada” before the match. “Goosebumps,” Osorio said. “Times are changing in this country for this sport. I was little bit surprised. It’s not a close trip from Canada to get here. It shows you how much support we have, how much the fans love football, how much people love football in Canada. This is a change in the history of this sport in this country. It felt like a home game. And I think Belgium felt like an away game.” Players brought along the sword they carried around Central America and the Caribbean during qualifying, which is inscribed “Nihil timendum est (Fear nothing).” Retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield spoke with the team before the match. Atiba Hutchinson, at 39, became the oldest non-goalkeeper to start a World Cup match. Even though Canada dropped to 0-4 in the World Cup, players felt proud and felt they had momentum going into Sunday’s game against Croatia, the losing finalist in the 2018 World Cup. Croatia opened with a 0-0 draw against Morocco. “They walk away proud, I’m sure, proud of the feeling that we’re a football nation,” Herdman said. “We came into that game with a couple of goals. The first goal was to play fearless, and the second goal was to entertain. We had some other goals, which were to create some firsts, but we weren’t quite up to those moments." He gathered players on the field after the final whistle. Read more: FIFA World Cup 2022: Messi seeks history with Argentina “I was really passionate in the circle,” Herdman said, recounting what he told them. “I thought that was a big step for this country. We deserve to be here. You’ve shown that. You’ve shown that you can live here.”
Spain's young squad got off to a high-scoring start at the World Cup, routing an experienced Costa Rica 7-0 at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha on Wednesday night. Not long after Japan surprised Germany 2-1 in the other Group E match, Spain avoided any chance of an upset with Dani Olmo, Marco Asensio and Ferran Torres scoring a goal each in the first 31 minutes. Torres, Gavi, Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morata added to the lead in the second half. Read more: Luis Enrique more than just a coach for Torres Olmo's goal was the 100th at World Cups for Spain, who became the sixth nation to score more than 100 times in the tournament. Also, it was the first time Spain had scored seven goals in a World Cup match. With 18-year-old Gavi and 19-year-old Pedri starting, Spain became the first European nation with two teenagers in the starting lineup of a World Cup match in 60 years, according to statistics platform Opta. "Gavi then became the youngest goal scorer at the World Cup since Pelé in the 1958 final." Gavi and Pedri were among the many youngsters picked by Spain coach Luis Enrique in a revamped squad in Qatar – the third-youngest team among the 32 nations, after the US and Ghana. The young duo helped Spain control the pace of the match from the start at the Al Thumama Stadium. Costa Rica looked overwhelmed from the start in its third straight World Cup campaign. They came to Qatar hoping to repeat their surprise run to the quarterfinals in 2014 in Brazil, and avoid a repeat of their participation four years ago in Russia when they were eliminated in the group stage after not winning any matches. Spain, which did not get past the round of 16 in Russia, are trying to break through with a major title after making it to the final of the Nations League and the semifinals of last year's European Championship. This year the team also qualified for the Final Four of the Nations League for a second straight time. Spain's last major triumph came at Euro 2012, two years after they had won their lone World Cup title in South Africa. Only five countries scored more goals than Spain at the World Cup – Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Italy and France. After this match, Spain are at the top of the points table of Group E and Japan are right behind them. Read more: Spain Squad analysis for 2022 World Cup
Defending champions Dhaka Abahani Limited clinched the Group C title to reach the quarterfinal of the season's curtain raiser soccer meet, the Bashundhara Group Independent Cup Football '2022 beating Muktijoddha Sangsad Krira Chakra by 3-1 goal in the last group match at the Shaheed Dhirendranath Dutta Stadium in Cumilla on Wednesday Dhaka Abahani will play the 3rd quarterfinal on Sunday (November 27) against the Group D runners-up while Group C runners-up Muktijoddha Sangsad KC will play Group D champions in the 4th and last quarterfinal on the same day. In the day's match, Brazilian defender Rafayel struck twice in the 4th and 27th minutes while Brazilian forward Santos netted the other goal for the popular sky-blue Dhanmondi outfit Abahani in the 61st minute. Nigerian forward Emmanuel scored the consolation goal for the freedom fighters' team in the 51st minute. Read: Ind Cup Football: Bashundhara Kings emerge group champions with all win record In the day's other match, coming from behind, Bangladesh Air Force beat Uttara Football Club by 2-1 goal at the Bir Shreshta Fl Lt Matiur Rahman Stadium in Munshiganj on Wednesday. After a barren first half, Mohammad Sagor put Uttara FC ahead in the 47th minute (1-0) while Rakibul leveled the margin for Air Force team in the 74th minute (1-1). Jewel netted the match-winning goal for Bangladesh Air Force (2-1) in the stoppage time of the match (90+3 minute).