BY ANNETTE AMONDI
With the 21st FIFA world cup just hours away, Football fans have already geared up to support their favorite players and teams from all over the world. Some fans however will be forced to shift gears during this year’s world cup tournaments because their favorites did not make it to play in the world cup either due to injuries or simply because their countries did not qualify for the Russia 2018.
Football legends Alexis Sanchez and Gareth Bale headline a host of big names who will be absent from Russia 2018 World Cup after their countries failed to qualify for the tournament.
Sanchez’s Chile lost 3-0 to Brazil and was then relying on results, which did not go their way, in other games for qualification.
Legendary Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon will join them watching from the sofa after Italy were dumped out by Sweden. The 39-year-old had planned to retire after the World Cup was forced to hang up his gloves following Italy’s play-off defeat to Sweden that reduced him to tears.
32 year old Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia will also join the Sofa team after his country Ecuador lost the world cup qualifiers. This would have been his third world cup tournament.
AC Millan’s defender’s Leonardo Bonucci’s commitment to play for Italy in the world cup was highlighted after playing with a broken nose in their World Cup play-off defeat to Sweden.
A winner of six Bundesliga titles and the Champions League, David Alaba’s international career has been less illustrious with Austria’s abysmal Euro 2016 campaign his only experience of a major tournament.
Closer home some African nations will also not get to watch their international football big wigs after failing to qualify for the world cup.
Naby Keita (Guinea/RB Leipzig)
The Liverpool-bound midfielder will be fresh when he arrives at Anfield next season after Guinea could not qualify from a group containing Tunisia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Libya.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon/Borussia Dortmund)
Gabon is yet to qualify for the World Cup and the African country’s shortage of top-class players means talented forward Aubameyang may not get the chance to play in a world cup pitch anytime soon.
Serge Aurier (Ivory Coast/ Tottenham Hotspur)
The 25 year old Ivorian will also be joining the sofa team after their 2-0 defeat against Morocco.
Victor Wnayama (Kenya/ Tottenham Hotspur)
27 year old Victor Wanyama lost his dream to play in the 2018 World cup after Kenya was eliminated from the 2018 world cup qualifiers after an aggregate 2-1 defeat to Cape Verde in the opening stages back in 2015.
Other big African names include; Leicester city midfielder Riyad Mahrez who plays nationally for Algeria, Manchester United and Ivorian defender Eric Bailly, Togo’s Emanuel Adebayor who has played three world cup matches previously, Cameroon’s Vincent Aboubakar, Ghanaian and Swansea forward Andrew Ayew and his Ghanaian captain Asamoah Gyan.