The Netherlands will play Qatar, Senegal, and Ecuador in Group A of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. This was decided during the World Cup lottery draw on Friday.
Dutch men’s national coach Louis van Gaal predicted last week that the Netherlands would wind up linked to Qatar, after he created controversy by saying the tournament should never have been awarded to the country. Van Gaal said he always winds up getting jammed in such situations.
All teams that qualify for the World Cup are divided into four pots. The first pot includes the host country, which in 2022 is Qatar, and the seven best-ranked teams. The second pot has the next-best teams, and so on. The fourth pot also includes placeholders for three teams that have not yet been determined.
Teams were selected one by one out of the first pot, becoming the first team in each of eight groups. The draw then continued to the successive pots until all teams were first placed in a group, and then in one of the positions within that group. As group stage rules dictate countries from the same region cannot play each other, unless they are based in Europe, some initial selections were voided.
Qatar was the first of the 32 teams placed during the draw, landing position A1, the first spot in Group A. Each position determines when the teams will play their group stage matches. The Netherlands drew into position A4. The current African champion, Senegal, was selected as the third team in Group A. Ecuador was the last team chosen in Group A, and was officially placed as team A2. As a result, the first match of the World Cup will be played between Qatar and Ecuador.
Netherlands group stage match dates during World Cup 2022
The opening match of the tournament will be played on Nov. 21. Senegal will be the home team against the Netherlands on Nov. 21. As team A4, the Dutch side will then host Ecuador on Nov. 25. Oranje will then host Qatar on Nov. 29. The times of the matches are to be determined.
Oranje is currently 10th in FIFA’s latest rankings. Senegal is 20th, Ecuador is 46th, and Qatar is 51st. Whichever team wins Group A will play the runner-up from Group B on Dec. 3. That group includes England, Iran and the U.S. A play-off will determine the fourth team in that group: either Scotland, Ukraine or Wales. The Group A runner up will play the winner of Group B in the Round of 16 on Dec. 4.
Iran was initially drawn into Group A, but the country is considered to be in the same region as Qatar. The country then wound up in Group B. This year, the Netherlands was placed in Pot 2, alongside Mexico, Denmark, Germany, Uruguay, Switzerland, the United States and Croatia. Pot 3 included Senegal, Iran, Japan, Morocco, Serbia, Poland, South Korea and Tunisia.
Group stage points
In the group stage, teams play the others in their group one time. They will receive three points for a win, one for a draw, and no points for a loss. The top two teams advance to the Round of 16, a single-match knockout stage.
The ranking of teams that are tied in their group on points will be determined by goal differential. If they are still level, they will be ordered by the number of goals scored during the group stage. Should other tie-breakers be needed, the tournament will then look at the number of points obtained by the tied teams in matches against each other, goal differential just between the teams which are tied, greatest number of goals scored in matches between the teams which are tied, and their conduct on the pitch determined by the number of cards the teams were issued.
Should the teams still be tied after that, FIFA will draw lots to determine the final ranking.
Van Gaal controversy
The 2022 World Cup games will be hosted in Qatar. Qatar is the smallest country to ever host the event and was selected more than 11 years ago. Last week, Van Gaal said he thought it was “ridiculous” that the World Cup was even organized in the Middle Eastern country.
“Everyone knows that I think it’s ridiculous that the World Cup is there,” Van Gaal said. “That we will play in a country to, what does FIFA call it, develop football there. And you do that by organizing a tournament in that country? That is bullshit. It is about money, commercial interests. That’s what matters at FIFA. Why do you think I am not on a FIFA committee with my expertise. Because I have always opposed these kinds of organizations. It is not right.”
The head of the World Cup Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, Hassan al-Thawadi, was disappointed by Van Gaal’s assessment. He told Bein Sports TV that Van Gaal has spent so much time in football, that he should understand that people are captivated by the sport. “I am sure that he hasn’t spent a lot of time understanding what football means, not only to Qatar but to the Arab world.”