Brazil set sights on record sixth World Cup title

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World Cup juggernauts Brazil will be targeting their first title in 20 years, while Cameroon and Ghana are hoping to set a new African record at the tournament.
The opening round of fixtures will conclude on November 24 and the action gets underway with Switzerland taking on Cameroon at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah.
The Swiss advanced to the last 16 in three of the last four editions, having failed to make it out of the group stages in 2010. Murat Yakin's side haven't enjoyed a particularly good run of results in 2022 and were beaten 2-0 by Ghana in their final warm-up match on November 17.
The Indomitable Lions will be looking to relive the glory days when they became the first African team to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 1990. They've failed to progress beyond the group stages in five subsequent attempts and didn't even qualify for 2018 edition in Russia.
Rigobert Song's side booked their place in Qatar by beating Algeria in the playoffs, although their build-up to the tournament hasn't been great after losing to Uzbekistan (2-0) and South Korea (1-0), while drawing 1-1 with Jamaica.
Cameroon Football Federation president Samuel Eto'o believes the time has come for Africa to bring home the coveted trophy, with no team from the continent having yet gone further than the quarter-finals.
"Africa has always had the potential to achieve a successful World Cup, but we haven't always shown our best face up to now," Eto'o told ESPN.
"During the years, African teams have acquired more and more experience, and I think they're ready not only to participate in a World Cup, but also to win it."
Two-time champions Uruguay will be eyeing another deep run in the tournament when they kick off proceedings in Group H against South Korea at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan.
La Celeste reached the quarter-finals in Russia four years ago and finished fourth at the 2010 edition in South Africa - their best performance since matching that feat in 1970. Diego Alonso's side had a good build-up to the tournament, beating Mexico (3-0), Panama (5-0) and Canada (2-0), while drawing with the United States (0-0) and suffering a surprise defeat against Iran (1-0).

Alex Telles
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The Taegeuk Warriors have featured at every World Cup since 1986 and achieved their best finish of fourth in 2002 as co-hosts. After failing to get out of the group stages in 2014 and 2018, Paulo Bento's side will be hoping to avoid the same fate this year and their recent form has been impressive, winning four of the seven friendlies leading up to the tournament.
Cristiano Ronaldo has one final chance to win football's biggest prize as Portugal begin their quest for glory against Ghana at the Stadium 974 in Doha.
At the age of 37, this is likely Ronaldo's last World Cup and he'll be looking to set a few more records in Qatar. The Selecao reached the semi-finals on Ronaldo's tournament debut in 2006, although they haven't advanced further than the last 16 since then. Fernando Santos' side booked their spot in Qatar after beating North Macedonia in the playoffs and they won three of their six games in the UEFA Nations League to finish runners-up to neighbours Spain in Group 2.
The Black Stars became only the third African team after Cameroon and Senegal to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 2010 and are making just their fourth appearance on the world's biggest stage. The West Africans have endured a poor run of results in 2022 and failed to go beyond the group stages at the Africa Cup of Nations, although they beat Nicaragua (1-0) and Switzerland (2-0) in the build-up to the event Qatar.
Spain-born Inaki Williams, who recently switch allegiances to Ghana, believes he can impart invaluable knowledge to his team-mates given his vast experience in La Liga.
"I'm almost one of the most veteran players. I've been playing in the first division for almost nine seasons now. I can bring the seniority I have to make a difference," Williams told BBC Sport Africa.
"I think I can contribute a lot and help all my team-mates to not only have a good World Cup, but also with all that is to come their way. I will try to help and give them advice, like I do with my younger brother."
Record five-time champions Brazil will aim to get off to a flying start when they face Serbia at the Lusail Iconic Stadium in Lusail.
The Selecao won the last of their five titles in 2002 and haven't contested the final since then. The South American titans are always considered favourites and this year is no different after they embarked on a 15-match unbeaten run since losing 1-0 to arch-rivals Argentina in the 2021 Copa America final.
The Eagles have only participated in two of the three last editions and didn't make much of an impact at either one after being eliminated at the group stages in 2010 and 2014. Their recent form has been good, however, going unbeaten in their last five matches with four of those wins.

World Cup fixtures - Thursday, November 24

12h00: Switzerland v Cameroon
15h00: Uruguay v South Korea
18h00: Portugal v Ghana
21h00: Brazil v Serbia


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Published: 11/18/2022