United's Fifa World Cup 2022 links: Group F

Wednesday 23 November 2022 07:00

There are United connections throughout the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and today we're exploring the Reds' relationship with the countries that make up Group F...


In terms of players who’ve represented United from Group F nations, it’s only really Belgium who we have any history with. In total, six Belgians have played first-team football for the Reds, a relationship started when Ritchie De Laet made his debut against Hull City in May 2009. The player from Belgium who made most first-team appearances for United is Marouane Fellaini, who played 177 times between 2013 and 2019. The rest of the list is made up of Marnick Vermijl, Adnan Januzaj, Romelu Lukaku and, most recently, Largie Ramazani. It doesn’t include Andreas Pereira who was born in Belgium but represents the country of his father’s birth, Brazil.
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Our men's team's closest link with Canada comes in the shape of Champions League winner Owen Hargreaves, who was born and grew up in Calgary, Canada, but chose to represent England internationally, where his father is from. Hargreaves was the first person to represent the senior England football team without ever having lived in the country. Canada forward Adriana Leon signed for United Women this summer and has made six appearances for the Reds so far, scoring once.
It’s perhaps surprising that we’ve yet to have a player from Croatia represent United at first-team level, and no players from Morocco have played for United – although the aforementioned Fellaini has Moroccan parents and his father was a goalkeeper for Raja Casablanca, one of the country’s biggest clubs.
There’s no United representation in Group F.

United’s first ever European match was against Anderlecht of Belgium, and the second leg of that 1956 European Cup tie in September 1956, 10-0 at Maine Road is still our record score. We’ve played two clubs from Belgium – eight times against Anderlecht and four times against Club Brugge. 
Matches against Croatian teams are far less common, with a pair of group games against Croatia Zagreb in the 1999/00 season our only matches against teams from that country. When England faced Croatia in the 2018 World Cup semi-final, there were two United players – Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young – in the Three Lions’ starting XI, with Marcus Rashford coming off the bench (starter Harry Maguire was still at Leicester in 2018). 
Which two countries will advance from Group F?poll

Which two countries will advance from Group F?

In years gone by Canada was a regular destination for pre-and post-season tours for United, with the club first visiting Toronto and Montreal in 1950, followed by further trips in 1952 and 1960. Our most recent visit came on our North American summer tour of 2010 when we beat Celtic 3-1 in a friendly in Toronto.   
We’ve yet to visit Morocco on official business, but United legend Bryan Robson will be forgiven for grimacing at mention of their name. The north African nation shocked the football world at the 1986 when they topped a group containing England, Portugal and Poland, and the United and England skipper was stretchered off with an injured shoulder in the 0-0 draw with Morocco, missing the rest of the tournament. Former United star Ray Wilkins – in 1986 then with AC Milan – became the first England player to be sent off at a World Cup finals during that goalless draw with the Moroccans.
Robbo endured a painful encounter with Morocco at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

The Reds are well represented in Canada, with the official Canadian supporters branch having bases in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Winnipeg and Newfoundland. There is also an official supporters’ club in Croatia, with local Reds regularly meeting up to watch matches in Zagreb’s Las Vegas nightclub. There are two different official branches in Belgium – Flanders Mancunians and Red Flag Belgium – and also an official MUSC branch in Morocco. 



Morocco v Croatia (10:00 GMT)
Belgium v Canada (19:00 GMT)


Belgium v Morocco (13:00 GMT)
Croatia v Canada (16:00 GMT)


Croatia v Belgium (15:00 GMT)
Canada v Morocco (15:00 GMT)