2022 World Cup: Ghana, Denmark, Iran and 4 Other Dark Horse Nations to Look Out for in Qatar

2022 World Cup: Ghana, Denmark, Iran and 4 Other Dark Horse Nations to Look Out for in Qatar

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:17 PM
In this article:
FIFA World Cup logo
FIFA World Cup
  • Since the first edition of the World Cup in 1930, the football landscape has witnessed all sorts of surprises at the Mundial from nations tagged as dark horses
  • Football ‘dark horses’ are countries or clubs that are not seen as favourites to win a competition or get far in the competition often surprisings naysayers
  • From the USA going all the way to the quarterfinals to 38-year-old Roger Milla guiding underdogs Cameroon to a quarter-final berth in Italia 90 every World Cup has a dark horse

The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is literally a stone's throw away, and for the first time since the tournament's inauguration in 1930, it will kick off in the winter instead of the summer.

All 32 participating teams at this year's competition will hope to secure a spot in the grand finale on Sunday, December 18, but first, they will have to carve a path in the group stage games, which commences on November 20 in a tie between hosts Qatar and Ecuador.

Despite the aspirations of all competing teams, the traditional heavyweights of world football will fancy their chances of delivering the Holy Grail.

Dark Horse, Denmark, Ghana, Iran, Serbia, 2022 World Cup
Ghana, Denmark and Serbia have been tipped as countries to cause a huge stir at the soon-to-start FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Photo credit: @Ghanablackstars @FSSrbije @footballinDK @IranFooty
Source: Twitter

Lionel Messi's Argentina, Brazil's Samba Boys headlined by PSG superstar Neymar and defending champions France have been tipped by bookmakers as favourites.

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However, there are some dark horses that will hope to spring surprises in Qatar. With a lot of strong teams at this World Cup, it is hard to pick the dark horses of the competition.

Sports Brief has managed to pick six countries which could make it very far in Qatar:


Since Van Gaal’s return, the Netherlands has gone undefeated and have only drawn four games.

They won their UEFA Nations League group, defeating Belgium at home and away. They are now ranked seventh in the world and walk into the tournament with hopes of upsetting the odds.

The Dutch have been tipped as favourites in Group A but could travel into the deep ends of the competition and possibly erase the 'perennial underachievers' tag after losing three World Cup finals.


The Eagles are a vibrant team stacked with attacking potential, led by a fearless coach, and aided by an ecstatic nation at its back.

Parading a very strong side featuring Lazio's Milinkovic-Savic, marksman Aleksandar Mitrovic, playmaker Dusan Tadic and budding Juventus forward Dusan Vlahovic, Serbia could wreak havoc in Qatar.

Serbia could pull a Croatia-esque run in this year's competition. They didn’t lose a game in qualifying, forcing the group’s highest ranked-team Portugal into the playoffs.


Unquestionably, the Scandinavian country own the tag 'dark horses' from trading the summer vacation to stunning the entire Europe to clinching the 1992 Euros against Germany.

In more recent times, the Danes reached the semifinals of Euro 2020 and topped it up with a dominant qualifying campaign.

Denmark will expect to progress ahead of Tunisia and Australia and hope to challenge France for the top spot while aiming to repeat their Euro triumph three decades ago.


Perhaps, Senegal represents Africa's best hopes of breaking the glass ceiling of reaching the semifinals.

In their first appearance at the World Cup, the Lions of Teranga stunned France while slaying some more giants before stumbling in the quarterfinals against Turkey.

Their chances could have been brighter bar the injury and subsequent omission of talisman Sadio Mane from the final squad.

Regardless, with a constellation of stars plying their trade in Europe, the reigning African champions might prove a handful.


Two-time world champions and multiple CONMEBOL winners, Uruguay head to Qatar as one of the dark horses that could possibly go all the way.

Uruguay’s talent is undeniable, and if head coach Diego Alonso can figure out how to use all of his stars, everyone else, starting from Group H could be in a whole lot of trouble.


Team Melli, the Iranian team, is currently ranked 20th in the world and is known for its solid defence.

It's a pity that they fell into the "group of death" in Russia 2018 which included Spain and Portugal as well as Morocco. In the end, they had 1 win, 1 draw and 1 loss with 4 points and were booted out of the group.

Carlos Queiroz's Iran will be hoping to make it out of the group stages for the first time in its history.


Heading to Qatar as the lowest-ranked nation among the 32 countries, the Black Stars of Ghana could be the competition's surprise package of the tournament.

Qualifying via the away goal rule, Ghana has underperformed but a convincing 2-0 win against Switzerland, ranked 15th in the world could be the tonic to revive the four-time African champions.

Having reached the knockout phase in two of their previous three appearances at the World Cup, the West African nation will fancy their chances against Portugal, Uruguay and South Korea.

Africa's performance at the World Cup

Earlier, Sports Brief reported that Africa has had some memorable moments at past FIFA World Cup tournaments.

Since Egypt qualified for the 1934 edition that was held in Italy - becoming the first African nation to do so - there have been highlights as well as lowlights that Sports Brief will skim over ahead of the Qatar showpiece event's kick-off on Sunday evening.

The Carthage Eagles claimed Africa's first win at the tournament when Ali Kaabi, Nejib Ghommidh and Mokhtar Dhouieb fired the North Africans to victory over El Tri.

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe photo
Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe is a Ligue 1, Bundesliga, and La Liga editor with five-year experience. He previously worked with Sports Corna and 360SportsGH.