The 2021 FIFA Arab Cup Qualifiers in Qatar
The 2021 FIFA Arab Cup qualifying play-off competition is currently being held in Doha. Fourteen teams from across Asia and Africa are battling it out in the hopes of joining the top nine Arab nations in the December tournament. The seven winning teams from this June's bout will join hosts Qatar, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, United Arab Emirates and Syria from November 30th to December 18th, Qatar's National Day, for a chance to be crowned football champions of the Arab world.
To win their opportunity to play in December, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Yemen will take to the fields of two of Qatar's most well-known venues Khalifa International Stadium – also one the host nations World Cup arenas – and Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium from the June 19th to the 25th. The fourteen teams will play in a qualifying single-leg Group Stage consisting of seven matches; the seven winning squads will join the top nine teams in December's Round of 16.
What is the 2021 Arab Cup?
The new tournament, launched by FIFA in November 2020, will see twenty-three of the region's best teams battle it out in Qatar to become champions of the Arab states. It will be the first major pan-Arab men's football competition since the last Arab Nations Cup, held in 2012. The Nations Cup has been sporadically hosted since 1963 and it has only been contested on nine occasions with a maximum participation of 11 Arab countries. However, under FIFA's administration, the all-new Arab Cup brings with it considerable opportunities and should spell a new competitive age for Arab football, which has seen significant improvements over recent years.
The 2021 tournament is also being heralded as a precursor to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It will give the competition organisers Qatar a myriad of opportunities to test drive their operational plans, tournament infrastructure and associated facilities, and a chance for the Qatari national team to test their mettle against some top-class competition. The Arab Cup will also build on the region's growing excitement for the World Cup, which will be just one year away when the 2021 event is staged.
The 2021 Arab Cup Format
Twenty-three teams signed up to play in the 2021 Arab Cup. From those participants, as previously mentioned, nine will automatically qualify for the Round of 16 stage - qualifying was based on the April 2021 FIFA ranking. The remaining fourteen teams in the current qualifying competition will be whittled down to seven winning squads and will join the top nine teams in a Round of 16 starting on November 30th.
The sixteen teams who qualified for the Round of 16 will be split into four groups of four. Each squad will play the others within the group to decide on the top two teams. The eight winning teams from the Round of 16 will advance to the quarter-finals. The four winning quarter-finalists 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.
The official draw for the Arab Cup was held on Tuesday, April 27th, at Katara Cultural Village Opera House in Doha. The draw allocated positions for the seven Group Stage qualifier matches and the groups (A-D) for the December tournament.
Group Stage Qualifiers Draw Results:
- Oman vs Somalia
- Lebanon vs Djibouti
- Jordan vs South Sudan
- Bahrain vs Kuwait
- Mauritania vs Yeman
- Palestine vs Comoros
- Libya vs Sudan
Final Stage Groups A-D Draw Results:
The Group Stage Qualifiers
The Group Stage qualifiers played out over one week will all kick off at 8 pm (local time). The timetable and location for each of the seven matches are as follows:
|DateJune 19th||MatchLibya v Sudan||LocationKhalifa International Stadium|
|DateJune 20th||MatchOman v Somalia||LocationJassim Bin Hamad Stadium|
|DateJune 21st||MatchJordan v South Sudan||LocationKhalifa International Stadium|
|DateJune 22nd||MatchMauritania v Yemen||LocationJassim Bin Hamad Stadium|
|DateJune 23rd||MatchLebanon v Djibouti||LocationKhalifa International Stadium|
|DateJune 24th||MatchPalestine v Comoros||LocationJassim Bin Hamad Stadium|
|DateJune 25th||MatchBahrain v Kuwait||LocationKhalifa International Stadium|
Qatar has worked hard to facilitate fans in the stands for many of its recent football tournaments, including the 2020 FIFA Club World, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Arab Cup qualifiers are no different. Limited numbers of fans will be permitted to enter the two stadiums for the event to cheer on their teams. However, spectators in attendance must be fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 in the last nine months.
Tickets for the matches are available from the Qatar Football Association website: tickets.qfa.qa.
FIFA’s all-new Arab Cup kicks off this winter in Qatar. The recent qualifiers saw seven teams advance to join nine other top-ranked squads at the event.
The Asian 2022 Qualifiers kicked off again recently after months of uncertainty; one week in and the final standings of Round Two are becoming more evident.
South America has completed qualifying matchdays 7 and 8 and, while the top three teams remain the same, the rest of the standings have had a complete reshuffle.
The 2022 World Cup qualifiers in Asia resume shortly - Qatar has finalised its hosting preparations, but COVID-19 has forced hosts China to rethink its plans.