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World Cup 2018: 10 Muslim Footballers To Look Out For


Luqman Hakim •  Jun 12, 2018


It’s that time again! The World Cup season is upon us. Prepare your couch, snacks and drinks and most importantly, your remote control as we ready ourselves for the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup! ?? Credit: Giphy The competition, which is held every 4 years, will take place from 14 June to 15 July this year. This year’s edition will see the participation of 32 nations including host nation, Russia. The nations will be divided into 8 groups of 4 - Group A to H.
Credit: Germany National Team on Facebook We have seen great Muslims make amazing contributions in sports over a long history, namely NBA legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and boxing legend, the late Muhammad Ali. Just awesome! ❤️ In the case of the amazing sport of football, they continue to make their respective nations proud. Many Muslim footballers will be sacrificing their Eid celebrations this year to represent their respective nations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Hold on to your seats! Here is a list of 10 Muslim footballers to look out for in this edition of the World Cup.
Group A:
Group A will consist of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay and host nation, Russia.
1. Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
The first on this list needs no introduction if you have been following the English Premier League. Dubbed the Egyptian King, Mohamed Salah (or Mo Salah) is arguably the best player in this list. He plies his trade in the English Premier League for Liverpool. His fancy footwork and impressive showing down the wings in his first season (the 2017/18 season) with the Reds has wowed Egyptian fans, Liverpool fans and rival fans alike. ?
Credit: Mohamed Salah on Facebook The 2017/2018 English Premier League Player of the Year and Golden Boot (awarded to the highest goalscorer in a season) winner suffered a shoulder injury during the UEFA Champions League final which saw his Liverpool side suffer a 3-1 defeat in the hands of Spanish giants, Real Madrid. Despite his injury, Salah is still selected to represent Egypt in the World Cup. Without a doubt, he is the key player for Egypt in the upcoming World Cup and could very well cause many upsets in group A. Nothing beats his impressive celebration after he scores a goal. Salah celebrates few of his goals by performing the Sujud, or the Islamic act of prostration.
Credit: Mohamed Salah on Facebook
2. Fahad Al-Muwallad (Saudi Arabia)
Al-Muwallad signed for La Liga side, Levante UD on loan from his parent club, Al-Ittihad earlier this year. The agile Saudi Arabian speedster only played a little more than 10 minutes for the Spanish side when he was subbed in at the 80th minute in a 3-0 win at Leganes. He was also named as a substitute for Levante’s crucial win against Las Palmas and celebrated the win with his teammates in the locker room. ?
Credit: Levante UD on Facebook Despite not given the opportunity to impress on club level, Al-Muwallad is Saudi Arabia’s key winger, having scored the only goal against Asian powerhouse, Japan in the World Cup qualifiers last year. That win saw Saudi Arabia secure an automatic qualification place for this year’s World Cup. Watch out for this Arabian superstar in the coming World Cup!
Credit: @fooodii8 on Instagram
Group B:
Group B will consist of Iran, Spain, African Nations 2018 champions, Morocco and Euro 2016 champions, Portugal.
3. Mehdi Benatia (Morocco)
A rock wall in defence, Mehdi Benatia is one to look out for this coming World Cup. The 31-year old defender currently plays for Italian side, Juventus after signing a permanent transfer from German powerhouse, Bayern Munich in 2017. Look out attackers of the coming World Cup, this man here is one dangerous defender! ??
Credit: Mehdi Benatia on Facebook Benatia may be one of the key defenders to keep goals out in a group consisting of nations with individuals who are potential goal machines for club and country. One of the goal machines requires no introduction, the legendary Cristiano Ronaldo! #CR7
Credit: Mehdi Benatia on Facebook
4. Sardar Azmoun (Iran)
Fans may not have heard of this 23-year old Muslim, considering the fact that he does not play in Europe’s big leagues. Sardar Azmoun plays in the Russian Premier League for Rubin Kazan and have spent almost his entire footballing career so far in Russia after leaving his hometown league.
Credit: @sardar_azmoun on Instagram The Iranian will play a crucial role in Iran’s setup in the attacking role. He may very well be responsible for netting in the goals for Asia’s highest ranked football nation and one can surely be excited for this Asian masterclass in the upcoming World Cup. How about some Asian flair on the scoresheet?
Credit: @sardar_azmoun on Instagram
Group C:
Group C will consist of Australia, Denmark, France and Peru.
5. Paul Pogba (France)
The youngest of the three Pogba brothers, Paul left Manchester United in 2012 for Juventus on a free transfer and re-signed for the Red Devils in 2016 for a whopping £89.3 million. He is well known by many for his unique (and sometimes unorthodox) hairstyles and his creative goal celebrations including the infamous dab! ?
Credit: Paul Pogba on Facebook  The playmaker for Manchester United and the French National Team makes it a habit to recite a prayer before every match and has even performed his pilgrimage in Mecca. He has been a thorn in opposition defence for a few years now. Let him impress you with his razzle and dazzle in the World Cup!
Credit: Paul Pogba on Facebook
Group D:
Group D will consist of Argentina, Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria.
6. Ahmed Musa (Nigeria)
Ahmed Musa’s drop down the pecking order while playing for Leicester City in 2017 forced him to be loaned out to his former club, CSKA Moscow in January 2018. He will be playing in familiar territory when he represents his Nigerian side in the coming World Cup in Russia. ?
Credit: CSKA Moscow on Facebook The 25-year old still has a career ahead of him and is one who could star for Nigeria alongside talented individuals coming for Europe’s top leagues and could cause a problem for opposition defences in the coming World Cup. Watch out for the Iheanacho - Musa show!
Credit: @ahmedmusa718 on Instagram
Group E:
Group E will consist of Costa Rica, Switzerland, Serbia and Samba Boys, Brazil.
7. Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland)
The Swiss speedster terrorises the wings for the Switzerland National Team and English Premier League side, Stoke City. Despite Stoke City's relegation to the English Football League Championship (England's second division) after a disappointing Premier League season, Shaqiri has proven to be a deadly winger for every team he plays for. The Swiss however, is looking to leave Stoke next season with a number of Premier League clubs showing interest for his signature. ?
Credit: Stoke City on Facebook Having previously played in German powerhouse, Bayern Munich, Shaqiri has the experience to threaten defences in the upcoming World Cup. Shaqiri was also a key man for Switzerland in the 2014 edition of the World Cup held in Brazil, leading his side to the knockout stage of the competition before losing out to Argentina in the Round of 16 after extra time.
Credit: Xherdan Shaqiri on Facebook
Group F:
Group F will consist of South Korea, Mexico, Sweden and World Cup defending champions, Germany.
8. Mesut Özil (Germany)
Özil who played on the wings, alongside now-retired German legends during their 2014 World Cup success may return in June to claim his #10 role. The attacking midfielder is a key playmaker for his English Premier League side, Arsenal under the leadership of Arsenal’s former manager, Arsène Wenger and has been involved in many goals for the Gunners. ❤️
Credit: Mesut Özil on Facebook Özil was in the news recently after a video of him went viral. He was filmed picking up a piece of bread that was thrown at him by an opposition supporter during a match between Arsenal and Spanish side, Atlético Madrid. He kissed and tapped the bread on his forehead before placing it by the side of the field, in respect to the religion which teaches not to waste food. What a lad! So, do look out for this lad as he looks to lead Germany's deadly midfield department alongside the likes of Real Madrid's Toni Kroos and Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus.
Credit: Mesut Özil onFacebook
Group G:
Group G will consist of Belgium, England, Panama and Tunisia.
9. Marouane Fellaini (Belgium)
It is extremely easy to spot him on a football pitch, solely for his hairdo. The 30-year old Manchester United midfielder is well-known for his huge afro. His strong built on the field also makes him a great box-to-box midfielder for both club and nation. ??
Credit: Marouane Fellaini on Facebook Despite being plagued with injuries in the recent 2017/18 season, Fellaini has been selected to represent his nation in the coming World Cup. Belgium’s midfield department is indeed a joy to watch with the likes of Marouane Fellaini, Youri Tielemans, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne representing the rather new European powerhouse.
Credit: Marouane Fellaini on Facebook
Group H:
Group H will consist of Colombia, Japan, Poland and Senegal.
10. Sadio Mané (Senegal)
The final Muslim footballer in this list is Sadio Mané. The Liverpool winger plays alongside fellow Muslim, Mohamed Salah in the Merseyside club. He and Salah created a deadly partnership in the 2017/18 season and the duo was responsible for majority of the goals scored in Liverpool’s best season in recent times! He scored Liverpool's only goal against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final. ??
Credit: Sadio Mané on Facebook Mané plays alongside a powerful Senegalese line-up with the likes of Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly and Everton's Idrissa Gana Gueye. Fans can expect another surprise package in the World Cup in the form of dark horses, Senegal. Liverpool and Senegal fans will surely be looking forward to Mané being involved in majority of the African nation’s goals.
Credit: Senegal National Team on Facebook The 10 Muslim footballers in this list are just a few of the many, MANY Muslim footballers in the upcoming World Cup. This includes 2 Middle Eastern Nations with a Muslim majority (Iran and Saudi Arabia). Don’t forget your snacks, drinks, jersey of your favourite team and get ready to scream, shout and celebrate during that one month of sleep-depriving, exciting and magical football! ?? Credit: Giphy [iframe seamless="seamless" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" height="450" width="100%" scrolling="no" src="https://pollbuzz.co/frame/2348?type=poll"][/iframe]