With the FIFA World Cup 2022 set to kick off soon, we bring you the lowdown of Group F, comprising of Belgium, Canada, Morocco and Croatia.

With just over a week to go before the FIFA World Cup 2022 kicks off in Qatar, the top 32 teams from across the globe will be making their final preparations as they dream of etching their names in footballing folklore.

Spread across November and December, the showpiece event in Qatar will be the first such edition of the tournament to be held in winter since the first-ever World Cup in Uruguay in 1930.

Scheduled smack dab in the middle of the regular football season in Europe, this year’s tournament, while still eagerly awaited, lacks the anticipation that is generally associated with events of such magnitude. Add to it Qatar’s sketchy human rights record, and could perhaps argue that this year’s tournament could lack the charm and inclusiveness usually on display.

But then, several issues usually take a backseat when the matches kick off, and football takes the centre stage. 32 teams, from five continents, spread over eight groups will compete for 16 knockout spots up for grabs. With no margin for error, every point earned could be the difference between elimination or glory on the world stage. There should be no shortage of drama or tension when the whistle blows on the 20th of November.

Having taken a look at Group A, Group B, Group C, Group D, and Group E, The Hard Tackle now move on to Group F comprising Belgium, Canada, Morocco and Croatia. Filled with four sides yet to win the tournament in its 92-year history, the scope for glory is as high as imaginable.Β The Hard Tackle looks at the four sides and what we can expect from them in this year’s mega event.

Group F – Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia


November 24: Morocco vs Croatia; Belgium vs Canada

November 27: Belgium vs Morocco; Croatia vs Canada

December 01: Croatia vs Belgium; Canada vs Morocco


The European powerhouse have some of the best players in world football but have consistently fallen short of expectations at major international tournaments.

Roberto Martinez’s side finished third in Russia in 2018 and will hope that the golden generation can have one last hurrah before several of their players call it a day. In possession of a side that has both experience and ability in abundance, Belgium will be expected to progress to the Last 16.

The squad picked is deep and has star power across the board. Thibaut Courtois headlines a defence that has seen better days but is capable of holding its own against top opposition. One could, however, argue that the lack of pace in the rearguard is a major weakness in the Belgian squad.

The European heavyweights’ strengths lie further upfield in midfield and attack. The likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard are likely playing in their last showpiece event and will be keen to go out with a bang. Both players have won several major honours at the club level but have consistently fallen short when it comes to translating their form onto the international stage.

The presence of players such as Axel Witsel and Youri Tielemans will provide the side with the solid foundations needed in midfield to best utilise their strengths in the attack. A fit-again Romelu Lukaku, in particular, will be keen to silence his naysayers and prove at the biggest stage of them all that he belongs.

A side that enjoys keeping possession of the ball, Belgium will go into the tournament as the overwhelming favourite to win the group. Their ability to play out from the back and control the tempo of the game are excellent traits to have in a tournament where there are no free lunches. Martinez’s trademark 3-4-2-1 formation guarantees goals, with Belgium failing to score in just games since he took over in 2016.

As long as they maintain their shape and do not let their admittedly slow defence get caught out, Belgium have every chance of going deep in the tournament. As the only side to be ranked number one in world football without winning a trophy, the psychological impact of failing to go all the way could hurt them.

How well they can juggle expectations while also staying true to their strengths could ultimately decide the outcome.

Key Players: Thibaut Courtois and Kevin De Bruyne

The former Chelsea duo are their nation’s equivalents of lock and pin. Courtois is one of the best goalkeepers in world football and the reigning Yashin trophy holder. A solid last line of defence, he might be called into action far more than imagined given Belgium’s less-than-stellar rearguard roster.

Kevin De Bruyne is Belgium’s most creative player.Β  (Photo courtesy: AFP/Getty)

As long as he can continue keeping the ball out, the Red Devils always have the opportunity to make their case at the other end. The players at Liverpool will certainly appraise to that given Courtois’s single-handed game-winning performance in the 2022 UEFA Champions League final.

Kevin De Bruyne has been the standout player for a dominant Manchester City side and has the guile and imagination to prise open opposition defences inside out. His driving presence from midfield will keep the opposition defences on their toes and make life easier for Belgium’s attackers.


The North Americans dominated the CONCACAF qualifying bloc and are set to make their first appearance at the showpiece event since 1986. The trip to Mexico in 1986 remains Canada’s lone appearance at the World Cup to date.

John Herdman is yet to reveal his roster for the tournament but possesses a couple of the best young players in the world at his disposal. Given that he has used a rather small set of players in the lead-up to the tournament, it is difficult to not make an educated guess on who makes the cut.

Canada are yet to score a single goal at the World Cup, and just finding the back of the net this year will be a momentous occasion for the nation. While they do have a good blend of youth and experience, the lack of a dedicated group of world-class players is a major weakness.

Finishing above Mexico and the United States in qualifying is no mean feat and shows the potential Herdman has at his disposal. However, his side will be facing much sterner competition in the finals, including two sides that finished in the top three in the last tournament.

The lack of familiarity teams outside the CONCACAF bloc have with Canada could prove to be a blessing in disguise. Jonathan David and Alphonso Davies will be recognisable names for viewers of European football, and that should take focus away from some other players like Cyle Larin and Milan Borjan.

Larin and David combined for 22 goals in the qualification stages and were the two top scorers in their bloc. More so, Borjan established himself as a reliable goalkeeper, keeping nine clean sheets to his name. Should the teams sleep on the Canadian players, they could spring a surprise or two.

The likes of Tajon Buchanan and Cyle Larin both ply their trades at the club level for Club Brugge in the Belgian Pro League. Their first-hand account of certain players could prove instrumental in how Canada set up in their opener.

Canada will be expected to go all out in their game against Morocco, and even a point against Belgium or Croatia can keep alive their slim hopes of qualifying for the Last 16. They kick off their campaign on November 24th against Belgium, and the performance on the day will be a good indicator of what to expect.

An athletic side that often hits the opposition hard when they are in disarray, Canada are certainly the dark horse in Group F. A lot could depend on how they set up against sides that hog the ball like Belgium and Croatia.

Key Players: Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David

Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David Canada’s most recognisable names and will be their nation’s biggest threats in the tournament. The former was the highest assist maker in the CONCACAF qualifiers, while the latter was second in the goalscoring charts, only behind countryman Cyle Larin.

Alphonso Davies is a dynamic attacker for Canada.Β  (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Davies is a regular at Bayern Munich and is firmly in the conversation of being the best left-back in world football. He is usually given a free hand in the attack on the international stage, serving as a left winger or midfielder. By not assigning him defensive responsibilities, John Herdman has largely extracted the 22-year-old’s attacking prowess. Thankfully for Canada, the youngster’s recent injury is not serious enough to impact his participation in the tournament.Β 

Similarly, David is also a top-level European-based footballer and is well acquainted with Belgian football given his two-year stint at KAA Gent. An explosive attacker capable of getting in behind defences, there is every chance that he will cause problems and also take the focus of Larin who will be sneaking around the back. With several clubs keeping a keen eye on him, David could use the World Cup to stage an audition of sorts.


This is the Atlas Lions’ fifth World Cup campaign and the first time that they have managed to make it to consecutive editions. They were unbeaten in their CAF qualifying rounds and looked the real deal under former manager Vahid Halilhodzic.

The Bosnian was seriously dismissed a mere three months ago, and the reins passed on to Walid Regragui. While he has enjoyed success at the club level with Wydad Casablanca, he will find it a challenge to navigate the difficulties of Group F.

Morocco have qualified for the knockouts of the World Cup just once. They managed the feat in 1986 following a historic 3-1 win over Portugal and draws against Poland and France. Unfortunately for them, the dream was cut short when West Germany beat them in the Round of 16.

While Morocco certainly have a squad that can compete, it remains to be seen how Regragui handles his resources and deploys them on the field. He does have sensational talents at his disposal such as Paris Saint-Germain’s Achraf Hakimi and Bayern Munich’s Noussair Mazraoui.

The midfield is lacking in top-tier talent, but the likes of Sofyan Amrabat and Abdelhamid Sabiri have cut their teeth in Serie A and can be dogged contenders. Hakim Ziyech and Youssef En-Nesyri will pack a punch in the attack as Morocco aims to spring a surprise or two.

The likes of Nayef Aguerd and Walid Cheddira have also risen to prominence in recent times and will be keen to enhance their reputations further. Morocco’s side is largely an average one smattered with world-class talents. The system could be tinkered with to keep things right and allow the star players to grab the bull by the horns.

The games against Belgium and Croatia should prove tough tests for a side that has won just two of their 16 games in the competition’s history. Even securing a solitary point against either side could make their Matchday Three fixture against Canada a six-pointer.

Key Players: Achraf Hakimi, Hakim Ziyech and Youssef En-Nesyri

The Moroccan right side can be called the team’s strength, and several of their top stars will be arrayed on that side of the field. Hakimi has been a key cog in PSG’s dominance and will be a dynamic presence on the right flank. His ability to get forward on the overlap and provide pinpoint crosses could carve out openings for the Moroccan strikers.

Ziyech is an effective outlet for Morocco (Photo by FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)

Ziyech has endured a rather troublesome stint with Chelsea and will be keen to remind the Blues of what they are missing out on. A clever player with guile to match, the Moroccan playmaker can not just carve open opposition defences, but also have a pop or two at goal.

The presence of the dynamic duo on the right will encourage Youssef En-Nesyri, who is developing into an excellent goalscorer. He has struggled for Sevilla this season but has the physicality and directness to give defenders problems. As long as he channels his performance against Spain from Russia in 2018, Morocco have a chance of causing an upset or two.


Zlatko Dalic’s side surprised the world when they made it to the final in 2018. Unfortunately, they came up against a generational France side that swept them away. While it would be rich to expect them to go one better, Croatia certainly have the tools to make another telling impact, this time in Qatar.

Croatia are one of the in-form sides going into the tournament and have won their last four UEFA Nations League games. A side that makes use of both experience and athleticism, Dalic’s 4-3-3 is predictable yet formidable in its own right.

Dalic likes his sides to keep possession of the ball and use the full-backs to provide width. Vatreni have made it a habit to play an expansive style of football that makes use of wide-men to spam crosses into the box. Add to it the midfield runners, and Croatia could overwhelm the opposition defence by sheer weight of numbers.

This is perhaps important given that they lack an infallible goalscorer since Mario Mandzukic called it a day. Andrej Kramaric, Bruno Petkovic, and Ante Budimir make up the numbers but are far from reliable options upfront.

Croatia’s real strength lies in its midfield. The trio of Marcelo Brozovic, Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic can provide stability in the middle of the park, providing the rest of the side with a base to build upon. In terms of technical ability and tactical awareness, the trio can compete with any midfield in world football.

In defence, veteran star Dejan Lovren will hope to roll back the years, while Josko Gvardiol will be keen to take his talents to the world stage. Bayern Munich’s Josip Stanisic is also a player to watch out for.

While the attack lacks bite, Ivan Perisic could be a game changer. The winger adds experience and guile and not to mention the ability to come clutch when needed. Given that this might be his last world cup, the 33-year-old will be keen to go out with a bang.

Key Players: Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic

Luka Modric is the footballer’s equivalent of fine wine and continues to thrive despite his age. He was one of Croatia’s standout performers in the qualification stages and is expected to reprise a similarly key role in Qatar.

Can Ivan Perisic make another telling impact for Croatia this season? (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The 37-year-old’s ability to control the pace of the game and make forward passes when needed make him a critical cog in Croatia’s system. With Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic alongside him, Modric could be freed up to don more of a playmaking role in the tournament. Add to it his prowess on set pieces, and it is clear where Croatia’s beating heart of the team lies.

Perisic, meanwhile, is the dynamic attacker who can turn the game on its head. He did that consistently in Russia and has in the years since emerged as a key player for Inter Milan and now Tottenham Hotspur. As long as he is in his element, Croatia have a real shot at turning half-opportunities into game-changing goals.

Likely to Qualify: Belgium and Croatia

Both Belgium and Croatia are the overwhelming favourites to qualify and should do so unless they shoot themselves in the foot. The Red Devils, in particular, have gone unbeaten in qualifying and have the roster to go deep in the tournament.

Croatia, meanwhile, might not be on the same level as their 2018 counterparts but have enough in the tank to at least secure the second spot. Their world-class midfield could be the difference maker. And as long as Marcelo Brozovic remains fit, they should have the initiative.

Both the European giants will not face off against each other until matchday three, meaning they could have qualifications all sewn up by then. Of the remaining two teams, Morocco have a decent side on paper, but Canada are likely to be the group’s surprise package.

Games in the tournament have the habit of throwing up surprises and a lot could happen over the three game days. The opening day fixtures should more or less give us an idea of what to expect.

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