Who will win the World Cup? Predictions of a non-betting Kenyan armchair pundit

Brazil players in training ahead of World Cup

From left: Brazil's forward Vinicius Junior, midfielder Everton Ribeiro, defender Eder Militao, forward Raphinha and defender Alex Sandro attend a training session at the Continassa training ground in Turin, northern Italy,on November 14, 2022 as part of Brazil's national football team preparation ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Photo credit: Vincenzo Pinto | AFP

What you need to know:

  • Forget about their painful 7-1 loss at home to Germany in the semi-finals of the 2014 tournament, Brazil learnt their lessons
  • Spain have young and exciting players, but they are nowhere near the complete tiki-taka product
  • With a fit Sadio Mane, the Teranga Lions, under 2002 quarter-finalist Alieu Cisse, must surely make the last 16


In purely mathematical terms, in a match that a winner has to be found, chances of making the right result prediction is 50 per cent. That is, one in two chances.

Not bad odds. When you add your knowledge of the teams -- their head-to-head record, current form, venue etc the chance of a correct prediction does increase.

It follows that pundits get predictions right more often than they get them wrong, but you still wonder why many people who bet, including several I know of, regularly go crying in the toilet after yet another “kuchoma bet”.

To my knowledge, only the famous Paul the Octopus, now deceased, got his predictions right, well, almost all of them.

Based in Oberhausen, Germany, the eight-limbed mollusc correctly predicted all the seven matches Germany played at the 2010 World Cup.

Paul also rightly picked Spain as the winner of the South Africa 2010 final. The outstanding Octopoda had a success rate of almost 90 per cent. Remarkable.

I have never calculated my football prediction efficacy but I wager it lies around 50 per cent.

Kenya have never qualified for the World Cup, so what do I know about football you may ask. Well, I am no soothsayer. I also do not bet. However, I am brave enough to make my 2022 Qatar World Cup forecast public. Here goes.

Hot favourites

Brazil surely. Look at this line-up: Alisson, Alves, Telles, Marquinhos, Silva, Militao, Casemiro, Fabinho, Fred, Paqueta, Neymar, Vinicius, Richarlison, Raphinha, Rodrygo, Jesus! Need I say more?

Permit me to add, Selecao, the masters of jogo bonito, are the most successful team in the World Cup with a record five titles.

Forget about their painful 7-1 loss at home to Germany in the semi-finals of the 2014 tournament, Brazil learnt their lessons. Neymar is no longer solely carrying the hopes of a football mad nation on his shoulders.

Coach Tite, since 2016, has built a well balanced side, purring like a well-oiled machine and bristling with match winners.

And historical trends dictate that the World Cup returns to South America after a 20-year hiatus.

Screen-shot this prediction. Braaaazil!

Genuine contenders

Here, I will give Argentina. The Albicelestes have gone an impressive 35 matches unbeaten, won the 2021 Copa America in Brazil, their first continental triumph since 1993, and have the magical Messi, desperately hungry for the one title he has never won in his illustrious career. Semis.

Belgium once occupied position one in the Fifa rankings for four years thanks to their Golden Generation. That cohort includes Thibaut Courtois, Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Yannick Carrasco, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, who will be dying to break the country’s semi-final glass ceiling. Quarters.

Portugal. I know they have never really been there, with semis in 1966 their best ever placing. But some gut feeling tells me this is their year. Final.

Pretenders

As usual, there is a lot of talk, from you know who, about England winning only their second major football title. They are certainly favourites to advance from Group “B” but USA, Iran and Wales will give them a real fright.

France will be weighed down heavily by history. Only two teams have retained the trophy, Italy in 1938 and Brazil in 1962. Le Bleus will be lucky to make the last eight.

Spain have young and exciting players, but they are nowhere near the complete tiki-taka product. They, importantly, lack that fear factor of the 2008-2012 La Roja. Quarters.

Dark horses

Denmark are well capable of making the semis. It will be ironic for them that in a tournament they have publicly stated should not have been awarded to Qatar will be the place they finally thrive, powered in part by the influence of national hero and favourite Christian Eriksen.

Surprise package

Serbia. They qualified top in their group and were unbeaten with 20 points from a possible 24. With proven goal-getters Dusan Vlahovic and Aleksandar Mitrovic they can trouble any of the big boys in Qatar and then some.

Africa’s hope

Senegal and Morocco. With a fit Sadio Mane, the Teranga Lions, under 2002 quarter-finalist Alieu Cisse, must surely make the last 16.

The Atlas Lions were the first Africa team to make the second round of the World Cup. Tough group they have but they have traditionally done well against European opponents and can make the knockouts stage.

Wooden spoon

Qatar. This is their very first tournament and they could be out of their depth, home support notwithstanding.

Ghana. The Black Stars are the lowest ranked nation by Fifa in Qatar at position 61. They were knocked out in the group stages of this year’s Afcon. What more would you expect?

Now, those who say, “I knew they would win”, “I knew they would lose” after matches have taken place can wait until the fixtures are over then roast my predictions publicly.

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