The World Cup is underway with a few games already taking place in a showcase of some of the world’s best and most exciting talent – and Harry Maguire.
We’ve already seen some controversial VAR decisions as well as 3-hour long games thanks to Pierluigi Collina clamping down on timewasting.
But the best of all is that there’s a raft of Championship players at the World Cup this winter.
There are 30 players heading over to Qatar who are currently plying their trade in the EFL and if that doesn’t impress you, I don’t know what will.
Here, I’ve rounded up the five figures from the second tier that you should be keeping your eye on…
Antoine Semenyo – Ghana
Semenyo hasn’t had the best of season’s so far, but that isn’t all down to the 22-year-old.
A shin injury curtailed his pre-season and he’s been catching up with form and fitness ever since, meaning the World Cup could be the perfect time for the attacker to peak.
Last season, Semenyo showed his ability to link up with his teammates as he scored eight and laid up 12 assists.
After making his debut earlier this year for Ghana, he could well find himself as a critical component in their World Cup campaign.
With games coming up against Portugal, South Korea and Uruguay, it’s a tough group but one that should give the Bristol City forward a chance to impress.
Iliman Ndiaye – Senegal
One of the best players in the Championship this season, bar none.
He didn’t start in Senegal’s first game of the World Cup campaign, with boss Alouie Cisse strangely selecting Everton holding midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye as the number 10.
However, with Cheikhou Kouyate picking up an injury, Gueye could well move deeper into the midfield two, allowing Ndiaye to come into the starting XI.
It would be mad not to considering he’s scored on nine occasions so far this season for Sheffield United.
Eight of those nine goals have come inside the penalty area, highlighting Ndiaye’s ability to get into the box, link up with the forward man and just be a presence.
That will be something vital for the African Cup of Nations holders if they are to bounce back from their defeat to the Netherlands.
Ilias Chair – Morocco
Chair has made just ten appearances so far for Morocco and was used sparingly at the African Cup of Nations earlier this year.
That shouldn’t impact his ability to play a huge part in his country’s World Cup campaign considering his form for QPR so far this season.
The 25-year-old has been one of the most active creators in the league, averaging 5.81 shot-creating actions per game, which is the most in the Championship.
He has the joint most assists in the league and has scored three so far, meaning he has to be utilised for Morocco in this tournament.
Jewison Bennette – Costa Rica
This kid is a talent.
He’s being eased into things at Sunderland but for his nation Costa Rica, he’s a vital player.
The 18-year-old is highly-rated in his home nation – making his debut in 2021 at just 17 – and his move to England has only exemplified that ability.
He had a huge impact on their qualification for the World Cup, assisting former Arsenal forward Joel Campbell (remember him?!) to score the winner against New Zealand to seal Costa Rica’s spot in Qatar.
That confidence, as well as playing amongst his compatriots, should really allow Bennette to kick on in this tournament, which will no doubt excite everyone on Wearside.
Josh Sargent – USA
Sargent has been in excellent form for the Canaries this season despite not playing in his favoured position consistently by Dean Smith.
He’s still bagged nine goals in 19 games and is showing why Norwich paid a chunky fee for the American.
He started against Wales in the USA’s opening game and even hit the bar in what was a below-par performance from Gregg Berhalter’s side as a whole.
However, he showed sparks and, should their performances improve, he could be a major factor in helping the US qualify from a tricky group.
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