Mohamed Salah, Erling Haaland, Other Superstars Who Will Miss the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar

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FIFA World Cup - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.03.2022
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Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe will be the biggest names to feature in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. However, some superstars failed to make it to the tournament when their national team failed to qualify. One is an Egyptian, another is from Norway and there are a few other well-known, though surprising, omissions.
Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah is among the best footballers in the world. He's also widely considered as one of the finest strikers in the galaxy.
Another one of football's hottest properties is Erling Haaland who, at 21, is tipped one day to assume the mantle of Cristiano Ronaldo once his childhood idol has bowed to the inevitabilities of aging and sashayed off to the corporate hospitality suite in the sky.
Gianluigi Donnarumma, Italy's formidable goalkeeper, was named best player at last year's Euro 2020 after the essential role he filled in Italy's sensational triumph against England at Wembley.
And Zlatan Ibrahimovic enjoys legendary status in Sweden, defying any attempt to be praised adequately.

Yet, all these greats have something in common: none will be present in Qatar!

There are, of course, behemoths of the sport, other than the four aforementioned legends, who will also miss football's greatest spectacle in the Middle East at the end of the year.

So, let's take a look at them:

Mohamed Salah (Egypt)

Egypt missed out on a Qatar World Cup spot after their heartbreaking and controversial loss to Senegal in a penalty shootout on Tuesday.

Salah's Liverpool teammate, Sadio Mane, delivered the decisive penalty for Aliou Cisse's side, as Salah was targeted with lasers when he attempted to take his shot, resulting in his kick going over the bar.

Egypt's failure to qualify added another sad chapter to Salah's international career which up until now remains trophy-less.

In 2018 when the World Cup was held in Russia, Salah was nursing a shoulder injury and couldn't do much as Egypt crashed out of the competition at the group stage.

This year, Egypt lost in the Africa Cup of Nations - Salah's second defeat in the final of the continent's biggest tournament after 2017 when his side was beaten by Cameroon in the title clash.

But the latest World Cup setback will be hard to bear for Salah, considering he's in his prime. If his form at Liverpool is anything to go by, Salah could have done wonders in the Gulf nation, but such is life and he will now have to focus on winning titles with Liverpool.

Erling Haaland (Norway)

The Borussia Dortmund hitman was injured when Norway were defeated by Netherlands in their final World Cup qualifier last November, only to finish third behind the Netherlands and Turkey in the group.

The last time the Scandinavian nation participated in the World Cup was back in 1998. Before their last qualifying game, Haaland gave them hope with victories against Latvia, Montenegro, Gibraltar and a draw against both Turkey and the Netherlands.

The 21-year-old is regarded as the sport's most promising young attacker alongside Kylian Mbappe, and not getting to Qatar will be a huge disappointment to him.

Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy)

The Italian goalkeeper was the toast of the game last summer after starring in Roberto Mancini's side's historic victory in the Euro 2020. But last week, the PSG star was transformed into a national villain as he failed to prevent a goal at stoppage time from North Macedonia which sealed Italy's World Cup fate.

Donnarumma's costly miss which helped Aleksandar Trajkovski to produce a 92nd-minute strike ensured that Italy would not be going to the World Cup for the second time in a row, after the side failed to qualify for the tournament in Russia four years earlier.

His inability to read the direction of Trajkovski's shot was a stark contrast to his heroics during the European Championship, considering Italy set a new world record there of not conceding a goal for 1,168 minutes.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden)

At the start of last year, Zlatan Ibrahimovic announced he was coming out of international football retirement to play for Sweden at the Euro 2020. But as luck would have it, he missed the continental tournament because of an injury.

The AC Milan man failed to lift spirits in the Swedish camp as he saw his team lose their decisive play-off against Poland 2-0 earlier this week.

Ibrahimovic has already turned 40 and even though he has said that he would continue to play for the national team for as long as possible, making it to the 2026 World Cup would be next to impossible for him.

Still, his participation in Euro 2024 in Germany can't be ruled out, considering he has already agreed to extend his AC Milan contract by a year, meaning he would be playing top flight football next year as well.

Jan Oblak (Slovenia)

Widely believed to be the sport's best goalkeeper at the moment, Oblak's performance for his club Atletico Madrid has earned him worldwide acclaim.

But his chances of playing in a World Cup remain minuscule as qualifying from Europe would be tough for Slovenia, especially when you have at least a dozen teams that are much stronger than them in the continent.

They last featured in a World Cup in 2010 and failed to qualify this time after finishing fourth in their group.
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