Published on: November 17, 2022, 11:37 am.
Last updated: November 17, 2022, 11:44 am.
The FIFA World Cup kicks off on Sunday and teams from around the world are now in Qatar for their preparations. France is one of them, but they are finding it harder to keep their team together as more players are struggling with injuries.
The latest to disappear from the line is Christopher Nkunku. The RB Leipzig midfielder left before the end of training on Tuesday with a left knee injury. Unfortunately, tests revealed a sprain, ending his chances of representing France.
Nkunku helped Paris Saint-Germain secure three Ligue 1 titles before moving to Bundesliga side RB Leipzig in 2019. He was set to make his debut for the France national team at the upcoming World Cup.
Staying healthy A challenge for France
The French Football Federation sent a medical file to FIFA to authorize a replacement for Nkunku based on the medical results. FIFA agreed, and Randal Kolo Muani will intervene.
Muani was in Japan with his Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt when he got the call. He then joined the French team in Doha on Thursday morning.
Muani is one of France’s fastest-rising strikers in recent years, making a name for himself in Ligue 1 before heading to Germany this year. Last September, the French national team drafted him to play in two EUFA Nations League matches, one against Sweden and the other against Austria. France lost the first but won the second.
Nkunku’s absence comes after several other defeats for the France team. Presnel Kimpembe, Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté would have been key components for France but are ruled out due to various injuries.
France make their first World Cup appearance against Australia on November 22. Even with the absences, he is still in a good position to win the game and possibly the entire tournament.
DraftKings has France beat Australia from -400 to +1100. The French team is also third in line to take the title at +700. That puts it just behind Argentina (+500) and Brazil (+350).
FIFA takes pride in its balls
The 2022 World Cup ball is called Al Rihla, which means “the journey” in Arabic. It is inspired by various elements of Qatari culture, such as the language, architecture, iconic ships and the country’s flag.
Al Rihla travels faster in flight than any other ball in World Cup history, according to FIFA. It has been rigorously tested on the field by players and in wind tunnels before final production.
The Al Rihla will be Adidas’ fourteenth consecutive World Cup ball. The sportswear giant began its reign of World Cup ball creation with Telstar at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico and has produced a new ball for every World Cup and every Women’s World Cup since 2011.