Four games are scheduled for day nine — Monday, November 28 — of the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
Cameroon vs Serbia (Group G): 1pm (10:00 GMT), Al Janoub Stadium
South Korea vs Ghana (Group G): 4pm (13:00 GMT), Education City Stadium
Brazil vs Switzerland (Group H): 7pm (16:00 GMT), Stadium 974
Portugal vs Uruguay (Group H): 10 pm (19:00 GMT), Lusail Iconic Stadium
It is do-or-die for Cameroon and Serbia. Both teams are facing elimination on Monday afternoon. A losing effort by either team — taking into account a potential draw between Brazil and Switzerland — will spell a premature exit for the two teams.
Serbia, who sit in the basement of Group G, were downed 2-0 by Brazil, while Cameroon were edged 1-0 by Switzerland — both teams are scoreless thus far.
The young and inexperienced Cameroon team is also in search of their first win since the 2002 World Cup.
“The mistakes that were made [against Switzerland] will not be made again in the next game,” coach Rigobert Song said after Cameroon’s loss to the Swiss.
FIFA is currently investigating Serbia’s football association after a nationalist flag — depicting Kosovo as part of the Balkan nation — was photographed in the team’s dressing room when they faced Brazil last week in Qatar.
“No comment, next question,” Serbia’s head coach Dragan Stojkovic said on Sunday when asked about the alleged incident.
Players to watch:
Keep an eye on Karl Toko Ekambi, who scored Cameroon’s World Cup-qualifying goal in a tie against Algeria. Ekambi, however, failed to capitalise on one of Cameroon’s better offensive opportunities against a mediocre Switzerland in the game’s opening half.
Cameroon’s Choupo-Moting is another fan favourite looking to make an impact on the scoresheet.
Serbia are reeling from a number of injuries, most notably, 28-year-old talisman Aleksandar Mitrovic, who broke the record for the most goals scored in an English league season last year.
But it is not all bad news for Serbia: after missing the team’s first game against Brazil due to injury, winger Filip Kostic is available for selection on Monday, although it is not clear if he will start.
“The situation is not excellent, but I am satisfied compare[d] with what we had before. The situation is better and that makes me happy,” Stojkovic told reporters on Sunday.
South Korea and Ghana are desperately looking to take a win after losing points in their first matches in the tightly contested Group H.
On Wednesday, a scrappy South Korea drew 0-0 against Uruguay, while Ghana are coming off a simmering 2-3 loss to Cristiano Ronaldo’s mighty Portugal on the same day.
The threat of possible elimination has not diminished South Korea’s hopes, even though they are neck-and-neck with Uruguay with only one point in their grouping.
“I said earlier I do not feel any pressure, I never did and never will,” South Korea’s coach Paulo Bento told reporters on Sunday.
“During the first game, we had a chance of at least ensuring a third-place finish. In the second game, we will keep this opportunity … we will enter the field with a focus on a win,” he said.
South Korea, ranked 28th, are appearing in their 11th World Cup — the most for any Asian country.
Ghana are ranked 61st and it is their fourth World Cup.
Players to watch:
All eyes will be on South Korea’s captain Son Heung-min.
Battling the aftermath of an eye-socket fracture, he commanded South Korea’s offensive drive in the scoreless match against Uruguay. He was fitted with a facemask for his last game after undergoing surgery earlier this month.
We can confirm that Heung-Min Son will undergo surgery to stabilise a fracture around his left eye.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) November 2, 2022
Football fans will recall Heung-min scored South Korea’s two of the three goals when they advanced from the group stage at Russia’s 2018 World Cup.
It is unclear if South Korea defender Kim Min-jae, who sustained a calf injury against Uruguay, will play on Monday. Forward Hwang Hee-chan is also sidelined due to a hamstring injury.
Ghana, led by their fearless captain, André Ayew and feisty Ajax midfielder Mohammed Kudus, will be hoping to inject some much-needed life into the Black Stars offensive unit on Monday.
Tournament favourites Brazil, in search of their sixth World Cup, are fresh off a 2-0 win over Serbia as they prepare to take on a Swiss team which cruised to a lacklustre 1-0 victory over Cameroon last week.
Switzerland, ranked 15th, face a steep challenge squaring off against number one-ranked Brazil on Monday, though they will be without star player Neymar.
The two teams have drawn on two prior occasions, most recently 1-1 at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and 2-2 at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil.
Brazil could make history if they can manage a win on Monday.
They are undefeated in their past 16 World Cup group-stage matches — dating back almost a quarter-century when they were beaten by Norway in 1998. No team has ever gone to 17 group-stage matches without defeat.
Players to watch:
Brazil’s 25-year-old striker Richarlison is fresh off a solid two-goal performance against Serbia, bringing his scoring tally to nine in seven appearances for the Seleção Canarinho.
Brazilian heavyweight Neymar will be notably absent from Monday’s lineup due to an ankle injury. He is expected to sit out two games. Brazil may struggle without him.
Arsenal co-captain Granit Xhaka has had a stellar season
Portugal vs Uruguay
A plucky Portugal, led by superstar striker Cristiano Ronaldo, are looking to punch their ticket to World Cup’s knockout stages with a win over Uruguay Monday night.
Uruguay, for their part, have not yet found the back of the net in Qatar — or the front of it for that matter — failing to register a shot on target in their scoreless draw with South Korea last week. A loss on Monday will severely narrow Uruguay’s odds of making it out of the group stages.
Uruguay, who knocked Portugal out of the 2018 World Cup in Russia with a 2-1 victory, are hoping for a repeat performance on Monday — but are equally wary of the “dangerous” Portuguese squad.
“About what happened four years ago, it’s a different match, we have different players, it will be a completely different match,” Uruguay’s coach Diego Alonso said at a news conference on Sunday.
He added: “Portugal [have] a very good squad, they have excellent players, they have a wonderful coach with wide experience. That makes them a dangerous team. On the other hand, we also have our own weapons. We will try to win, we will bring our A game.”
Players to watch:
Despite his recent struggles and controversies at the club level, Ronaldo soared in Portugal’s 3-2 victory over Ghana, becoming the first men’s football player in history to score in five World Cups. He will be hungry on Monday to secure Portugal’s spot in the final 16.
“United and focused. Towards our goal,” Ronaldo tweeted on Sunday in anticipation of the showdown with Uruguay.
Unidos e focados. Rumo ao nosso objectivo.🇵🇹🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/MYEaxlener
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) November 27, 2022
Seasoned Uruguay strikers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani are La Celeste’s best shot at hitting back at a menacing Portuguese offence.
Diego Godin will also be eager to add an offensive spark. He had one of Uruguay’s best chances in its 0-0 draw with South Korea, nearly putting the team on the scoreboard with a header that ricocheted off the post.
View the full 2022 World Cup schedule here and be sure to visit Al Jazeera’s AI match predictor to see how your team is projected to perform in Qatar.