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6 minnows to watch out for this world cup

Football’s super bowl is just around the corner. 32 teams eye the gold, but only one would take it home. This does not necessarily mean that the other participants will go empty handed. There ought to be a lot of surprises, and there will surely be fireworks. A lot of new teams and new players will impress, and make their mark. And, who knows, we might get to see a favourite bite the dust?

You never really know what’s coming at you in competitions as huge as the FIFA World Cup. So here’s a list of minnows with the potential to rattle the bigwigs.

ICELAND

Remember the Vikings from the Euros 2016? You certainly would, if your name is England. Iceland shocked the world – not really if you watch football regularly – when they knocked England out of the Euros in 2016.

For a country with a population of around 300,000, participating in the world cup is huge. And since for minnows, a world cup is a once in a lifetime opportunity, they exert their heart, soul and energies into it, making them way more dangerous than they might appear.

EGYPT

Also known as the Mohammad Salah team, Egypt is one of the most exciting minnows in this year’s world cup. Primarily, because of Muhammad Salah, and perhaps, just about that. But they are a decent team, with a star player and when a team has a star player, who has performed at the biggest stages of them all, the confidence shoots sky-high.

That Liverpool looked clueless during the UCL final against Real Madrid without Muhammad Salah is a living proof of it. Plus, Egypt and Salah will have the support of millions of Muslims from around the world, how cool is that?

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SWEDEN

More like Zlatanland, even though the man himself, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, will not feature in the world cup. Sweden is not necessarily an overwhelming minnow, they are not pretty much the favourites either.

Hence, Sweden has the potential to shock the world, or at least offer some outstanding performances. Other than Zlatan, they have Sebastian Larsson, John Guidetti and Manchester United’s Victor Lindeloff, so they do have their share of star power.

RUSSIA

There’s no doubt about it that Russia will enjoy a humongous fan support, because after all, the tournament will be held in their own backyard.

They might not have a star-studded line-up, but what they do have is plenty of talented youth in their ranks, with veteran goal-keeper Igor Akinfeev pulling all the strings. They have got a great deal of talent in their ranks e.g. Mario Fernandes, Denis Cherishev, Alan Dzagoev and the Miranchuk brothers are pretty well known among the mainstream football fans.

Plus, they will surely be backed by thousands within the stadium, and millions outside rocking Russia with anthems on top of their lungs.

SOUTH KOREA

Now, the Koreans from the South are serious about their football, like they are K-Pop. They have featured in six editions of the World Cup and are one of the most successful Asian teams of the tournament, with their best performance earning them a fourth spot in 2002.

Now, nobody expects Korea to wreak havoc, but they have the potential to stun any big team on their day. Although I would not blame you if you are unable to name a few South Korean footballers, expect for maybe Son Heung-Min, if you are a Tottenham Hotspur fan.

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But, South Korea would surely be a team to look out for.

COSTA RICA

If there is one thing they say about teams from the Americas, it is that they are mentally unbreakable.

Costa Rica is one such example of the toughness of the Americas-based football. Now, it is not clear whether it is the tough conditions they play in or just genetics, but teams from the continent give it their all till the final whistle blows.

They have a few prominent names in their ranks – the most well-known is that of their goal-keeper Keylor Navas, who also happens to play for European Champions Real Madrid, and is one of the best shot-stoppers in the world.

They too have some decent players like Bryan Ruiz, David Oviedo and Joel Campbell, but they are known only to hardcore Spanish football fans.

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