The big guns return
Russia 2018 has been a great World Cup, perhaps even the best ever, but the absence of several regional heavyweights has been an anomaly that can be rectified in Qatar.
A World Cup without Italy, the Netherlands, back-to-back Copa America winners Chile, the United States and Cameroon lacks something, but they all now have four years to show that their failure to qualify for Russia was a one-off.
If they learn the lessons from their World Cup no-shows, they can all come back stronger in Qatar in 2022.
Ronaldo bids farewell
Cristiano Ronaldo will be 37 by the time Qatar 2022 comes around but it is difficult to envisage the Portugal forward missing one last chance to play on the big stage. If Portugal qualify you can expect Ronaldo to be there, with slowing limbs and graying hair, but still with the appetite to be the best.
Can he win the World Cup with Portugal at 37? Probably not, but Ronaldo will make sure he makes his mark in Qatar, even if it's only because he chooses that point at which to wave farewell to the game.
Qatar become the worst-performing hosts
Only one World Cup host nation has ever failed to qualify from the group stages when South Africa earned that unenviable distinction back in 2010. Yet they still managed to end their own campaign on a high with a 2-1 win against France in Bloemfontein.
A truly successful World Cup needs a host capable of at least recording some kind of positive result -- something we got when Russia cruised through Group A and even eliminated Spain, against all odds -- but Qatar are currently 97th in the FIFA World Ranking and have no pedigree of qualifying for previous World Cups. Having joined FIFA in 1970, their best tournament performances have come in the eight-nation Arabian Gulf Cup and they'll need their players to start finding opportunities to break through in Europe, too.
Qatar have an awfully long way to go in terms of becoming competitive, and they're a fairly new arrival on the international football scene, but competing in next year's Copa America in Brazil will give them tournament experience and a valuable insight into how much improvement they need to make. They'll also need to catch the emotional spark of performing at home on the world's biggest sporting stage.
African teams mount a better challenge
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