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Countdown to World Cup: Two days until the big kickoff

Poland’s group rivals continue their struggle against injuries, Robert Lewandowski attends the first press conference after arriving in Qatar as fans have been dealt a huge blow after Qatari authorities coerced FIFA to ban alcohol within the stadium perimeters.

One more World Cup for captain?

Poland talisman Robert Lewandowski said he is preparing for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar as if it could be his last, but the 34-year-old added that he should still be physically fit to play at the next edition in 2026.

Poland are in Group C of the World Cup and begin their campaign against Mexico on Tuesday. They will also face Argentina and Saudi Arabia.

“Is this my last World Cup? I don’t know,” Lewandowski told reporters in Doha on Friday.

Lewandowski said that opponents are likely to focus on marking him in attack during games — a move which Poland will try to take advantage of.

“I believe the other players will take advantage of the fact that sometimes I can go down the side taking two players and the space will free up elsewhere,” he explained.

Poland, who Lewandowski noted are not the favourites in their group, won 1-0 against Chile in Warsaw in a warm-up friendly on Wednesday before making the trip to Doha.

Injury nightmare in Argentina, Mane to miss the World Cup

Argentina’s Joaquin Correa and Nicolas Gonzalez have been ruled out of the World Cup due to injuries, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) said on Thursday.

Angel Correa and Thiago Almada have been called up to replace the injured players.

The Copa America champions are also sweating about the fitness of defender Christian Romero and forwards Alejandro Gomez and Paulo Dybala, all of whom were left out of Argentina’s last warm-up match on Wednesday. On top of that, the side’s main pivot, Giovanni Lo Celso, will be missing the World Cup as well.

Argentina’s opening World Cup match is against Saudi Arabia on November 22.

Senegal star Sadio Mane has been ruled out of the World Cup handing a crushing blow to his team’s chances after officials confirmed on Thursday he would need surgery on a leg injury sustained in the run-up to the tournament.

Mane had been a doubt for the west African side after injuring his right fibula playing for German club Bayern Munich. Senegal put all hands on deck, even trying witchcraft, but ultimately were left without their key player.

No beer for no rich in Qatar

World Cup stadiums are prohibited from selling alcohol in Qatar, FIFA announced on Friday two days before the tournament begins.

The reversal permits World Cup sites to sell only non-alcoholic beverages, which represents a reversal of an agreement that approved international sponsor Budweiser to sell at all events.

“Following discussions between host country authorities and FIFA, a decision has been made to focus the sale of alcoholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations and licensed venues, removing the sales points of beer from Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium perimeters,” FIFA said on Friday.

In a move that many saw coming, FIFA and Qatar decided that the ban on alcohol would not pertain to luxury suites reserved for FIFA officials and other wealthy guests.

Approved “fan zones” near the stadium can still sell alcoholic beverages. Fans found attempting to bring their own alcohol into stadiums will be barred from the game and tournament.

Fan parks and luxury options such as massive ships in port, are selling
food and beverages at a premium.

Construction zones, including some temporary lodging facilities and other fan-friendly areas, were still active as of Friday.

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