The excitement is palpable as the 2022 FIFA World Cup is just around the corner with anticipation reaching its peak.
There isn’t long now until Qatar 2022 with less than two months left as the attention of the world converges for an unprecedented winter tournament.
Many Scottish Premiership players will be looking forward to a break during the competition as Scotland did not make it to the biggest event of the football calendar.
Nevertheless, other players will be preparing for the tournament and Celtic fans in particular will have national teams to support.
This writer evaluated the World Cup schedule and came up with a list of the Celtic players who will be in Qatar and those with a slight chance.
The Celtic squad has greatly improved under Ange Postecoglou who brought a number of international players to add much-needed quality after losing the league title to Rangers in 2021.
The Hoops are back on their perch as champions of Scotland, and that success could translate at the FIFA World Cup where four Celtic players featured in Russia back in 2018, as many as six Celts could be playing in Qatar 2022.
So who are they?
Cameron Carter-Vickers – USA
The central defender finally sealed a permanent move from Tottenham Hotspur this summer and is expected to start at the heart of the American defence after stepping up his game in Scotland.
The 24-year-old has 11 caps for the USMNT and appears to have broken into the starting line-up in 2022, starting three of their last four games before he missed out on the September international break to a minor injury.
The Stars and Stripes face a tough group but are capable of pulling off a surprise result as they face Wales, Iran and England where Carter-Vickers is likely to be directly against England captain Harry Kane and a few former Tottenham teammates.
Aaron Mooy – Australia
Australia’s midfield creative force joined Celtic this summer to reunite with his former national team boss.
Mooy has been integral to the Socceroos’ plans in his decade-long international career and started both of their recent playoff victories against the UAE and Peru. The 32-year-old would add to his 52 caps in Qatar as they look to emerge as Dark Horses in a group containing France, Tunisia, and Denmark.
Josip Juranovic – Croatia
The right-back has quickly endeared himself to the Celtic fans with his confidence and technical ability after moving from Legia Warsaw in 2021.
Juranovic has 21 caps for Croatia and has become their first-choice right-back ahead of Šime Vrsaljko. The 2018 World Cup finalists will be up against Morocco, Canada, and Belgium in Group F.
Could they recreate that stunning run from four years ago? It was unlikely, and Croatia aren’t quite as good as then.
Kyogo Furuhashi, Yosuke Ideguchi & Daizen Maeda – Japan
A common World Cup team among Celtic fans all over the world will be Japan, thanks to their Japanese quartet. Kyogo Furuhashi had been signed after Postecoglu was impressed by him in the J-League, fellow countrymen Yosuke Ideguchi, Daizen Maeda and Reo Hatate followed in January.
Furuhashi led the pack with his scintillating form in the first half of last season, providing 10 goal involvements in his first 13 appearances for the Bhoys. He is expected to be one of Japan’s leading players at the tournament and showcase his stunning trickery and pace against heavyweights Spain and Germany, as well as Costa Rica in Group E.
The 27-year-old earned his 16th cap for the Samurai Blue against Ecuador in September and will hope to pass 20 during the World Cup.
Daizen Maeda is also a mainstay in Ange Postecoglou’s plans and should also be on the plane to Qatar. The forward provides plenty of pace and energy and was involved in September’s 2-0 win over the USA.
Reo Hatate has one full cap having made his international debut in March and has been a revelation since arriving in Scotland. The 24-year-old can play himself into contention as a late breakthrough star.
For Yosuke Ideguchi, however, it has been a journey of injury woes since arriving at Celtic which has impacted his chances of earning a place in Hajime Moriyasu’s squad. The 26-year-old has 15 caps for Japan but was the only Celt who failed to get an invite for the final international break before the World Cup.
Photo by Unsplash