2021 Arab Cup Qualifiers Decide Final Teams for the Tournament
Twenty-three Arab teams from across the world signed up for the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 in Qatar. Following the competition qualifiers on July 1st, only sixteen remain for the main event, which kicks off this year on November 30th with the Round of 16.
The qualifiers saw fourteen teams battle it out in a single-leg knockout tournament to advance to the Round of 16. The seven victorious teams from the qualifiers will join the nine top-ranked Arab squads who qualified automatically for the November/December competition.
In July’s qualification round of seven matches, Oman took on Somalia, Lebanon faced off against Djibouti, Jordan opposed South Sudan, Bahrain battled it out with fellow Gulf nation Kuwait, Mauritania challenged Yemen, Palestine competed against Comoros, and Africa’s Libya and Sudan fought it out against one another.
The results from the qualification round are as follows:
|Oman||2 - 1||Sudan|
|Lebanon||1 - 0||Djibouti|
|Jordan||3 - 0||South Sudan|
|Bahrain||2 - 0||Kuwait|
|Mauritania||2 - 0||Yemen|
|Palestine||5 - 1||Comoros|
The qualification victors, Oman, Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain, Mauritania, Palestine and Sudan, now join the top nine Arabian teams for the next round of the competition in Qatar, which begins at the end of November. Qatar, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) all qualified automatically for the tournament as the highest FIFA ranked Arab teams.
Going forward, at the Round of 16 stage, the teams have been drawn into four groups of four:
|Group||Team||FIFA Ranking (as of May 2021)|
|A||TeamQatar||FIFA Ranking (as of May 2021)58|
|TeamIraq||FIFA Ranking (as of May 2021)68|
|TeamOman||FIFA Ranking (as of May 2021)80|
|TeamBahrain||FIFA Ranking (as of May 2021)98|
|B||TeamTunisia||FIFA Ranking (as of May 2021)20|
|TeamUAE||FIFA Ranking (as of May 2021)73|
|TeamSyria||FIFA Ranking (as of May 2021)79|
|TeamMauritania||FIFA Ranking (as of May 2021)101|
|C||TeamMorocco||FIFA Ranking (as of May 2021)34|
|TeamSaudi Arabia||FIFA Ranking (as of May 2021)65|
|TeamJordan||FIFA Ranking (as of May 2021)95|
|TeamPalestine||FIFA Ranking (as of May 2021)104|
|D||TeamAlgeria||FIFA Ranking (as of May 2021)33|
|TeamEgypt||FIFA Ranking (as of May 2021)46|
|TeamLebanon||FIFA Ranking (as of May 2021)93|
|TeamSudan||FIFA Ranking (as of May 2021)123|
Squads will each play all of the others within their specific group in a round-robin format to decide on the top two teams. The top two from each group will fight it out in the quarter-finals. The four winning teams from the quarter-finals will go through to the semi-finals to contest a place in the final and a chance to be crowned champions of the Arab footballing world. The final will take place, as will the contest for third place, on December 18th - Qatar National Day.
Teams will contest the winter competition in six of Qatar's eight new World Cup Stadiums, gaining the opportunity, for some, to experience the nation’s top-class facilities well before the whistle is blown to start the 2022 event.
What is the Arab Cup?
The Arab Cup is a new sporting competition for worldwide Arab nations under the administration of FIFA. The tournament was launched in November 2020 and will be played out in 2021 in Qatar, hosts of the 2022 World Cup. While pan-Arab football events have been held previously, such as the Arab Nations Cup, none have had the backing of FIFA, and none have been consistently contested.
The new tournament is poised to begin a new era of competitive men’s football across the Arab nations. It will ramp up competitive opportunities between African and Asian teams and expose numerous squads to higher levels of competition against top-ranked teams such as Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt, which should raise the level of football across the field. It will also provide greater exposure for players on a global stage, increasing their opportunities at home and abroad. And, possibly most significantly, it will be an opportunity to unite Arab nations.
For Qatar in particular, the 2021 event is an opportunity to test drive their World Cup operational plans, tournament infrastructure and associated facilities. And, it will be a chance for the national team to continue honing their skills for the 2022 competition.
To date, the 2019 Asian Cup winners have been involved in numerous major footballing events to build on their experience of differing continental teams' footballing styles and improve their skills against world-class players. Starting with the Copa America in 2019, the Qatari national team got to pit their abilities against the South Americans. They also played in the European World Cup qualifiers against top-class teams such as Portugal, Serbia and the Republic of Ireland. Recently, they took part in the joint Asian qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. (As hosts of the World Cup event, Qatar automatically qualified for the tournament but, to take their place at the next Asian Cup, they participated in the second round of the joint qualifiers. They topped their group and won their spot). The team has also been invited to join the Gold Cup tournament in July 2021 for North, Central America and Caribbean football teams.
In the build-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar is working on having a wealth of experience, both on and off the pitch, to help them deliver ‘amazing’!
Qatar, 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts, are busy testing their facilities with another football event, the 2021 Arab Cup. This week sees the qualifying tournament in Doha.
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