SuperSport viewers on DStv and GOtv will be counting down the days to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, with the tournament set to run from 21 November to 18 December and provide the most thrilling distillation of ‘The Beautiful Game’.
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The United States men’s national team (USMNT) will be returning to the FIFA World Cup this year, having missed out on Russia 2018. Prior to that tournament, the Stars and Stripes had appeared at seven successive World Cups, with their best performance a quarterfinal showing in 2002.
The US did not qualify for Qatar 2022 with any great flourish: they finished three points off the pace set by Canada and Mexico in the third round of the CONCACAF tournament and were only ranked ahead of Costa Rica on goal difference.
Clint Dempsey, who racked up 141 caps for the USMNT and shares the record as their all-time leading scorer in international football (57 goals, tied with Landon Donovan), has pointed the areas where coach Gregg Berhalter’s team needs to improve before facing the likes of England and Iran in the group stage at Qatar 2022.
“We’re missing a No. 9,” said the retired striker. “I think someone needs to kind of solidify that role and be the main guy. For example, if you’re looking at Canada with [Jonathan] David and Cyle Larin, they’ve both been doing a great job … if one is out, another one steps in and they don’t really miss a beat.
“Also, with teams [that are] going to be pressing us, I think that we need to do a better job of building out of the back with our centre backs and having that confidence to try to play. So it’d be interesting to see how things play out for the team. I think that they do have the quality to get out of the group [in Qatar]. They’ve just got to be at full strength.”
Dempsey also believes that goalkeepers Zack Steffen and Matt Turner need to see more playing time at club level to ensure they are on top of their games for the tournament in November and December.
“Whoever is going to win that spot is whoever is going to be playing more consistently,” said the 39-year-old. “If you’re not playing consistently for your club that you’re on, then you need to go on loan and get those minutes.
“Because it’s all about being sharp when that time comes. So it will be interesting to see what happens for Turner and Steffen in July and August, what decisions are made there.
“Not only the goalies, but I think all the field players as well, they need to be playing for their club teams come August and trying to get on a good run of form, because that’s what you’re going to need to go far in that tournament.”
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