32. Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia surprisingly qualified as one of the four automatic bids from the AFC (Asian Football Confederation). This is a side fielding a roster exclusively from its domestic league. The most prolific player from the team is Mohammad Al-Sahlawi. He’s bagged an impressive 28 goals in only 40 international matches. Though Saudi Arabia managed to come away with victories against the likes of Japan, Latvia, and Jamaica over the last two years, it’s transitioning into a new coaching staff. Bert van Marwijk — the key individual responsible for leading KSA into the World Cup — is no longer with the team. Edgardo Bauza took over, only to later be replaced by former Chilean manager Juan Antonio Pizzi. Collectively speaking, Saudi Arabia has little chance of advancing out of the group stage.
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Thanks to the ineptness of the United States, Panama skated into the tournament by the skin of their proverbial teeth. It marks the first time the tiny Central American side will feature in the World Cup. Panama will likely feature one of the oldest rosters in the field — as three of the team’s main players (Felipe Baloy, Blas Perez, Luis Tejada) are all at least 36 years of age. As a team defined largely by chippy play, there’s a real chance Panama collects more yellow cards than goals scored in the group stage.
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