FIFA Arab Cup 2021 - Official Draw Results
The official draw for the upcoming FIFA Arab Cup 2021 was held on Tuesday, April 27th, at host Qatar's Katara Cultural Village Opera House. The newly formed tournament will see 23 teams battle it out to be crowned champions of the Arab footballing world. Now that the draw has taken place, national squads can begin preparations for the encounter, held across November and December 2021 in Qatar.
The new tournament is being heralded as an event that will set the scene for a new competitive age for Arab football, which has seen significant improvements over recent years. Since 1963, there has only been one competition of similar ilk - the Arab Nations Cup - and it has only been contested on nine occasions with a maximum participation of 11 Arab countries. War, regional instabilities and lack of sponsorship are just some of the reasons for its sporadic organisation. However, under FIFA's administration, the all-new Arab Cup is on with all 23 Arab nations in attendance, and it brings with it considerable opportunities.
The new tournament spells an unparalleled opportunity to ramp up competitive possibilities between African and Asian Arab countries that don't often meet on the field. With many strong African and Asian teams in the mix, who have numerous players also playing in European leagues, the event should help to improve the level of football across the Arab world. In addition, the opportunity for teams and players to perform against some of the world's best football teams (Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt are in the Top 50 best teams in the world) and players (Egypt's Mohamed Salah, Morocco's Achraf Hakimi and Hakim Ziyech, and Algeria's Riyad Mahrez), and on such a grand scale, is priceless in terms of experience and exposure. And, on a wider and no less important scale, the competition is also an opportunity to unite millions of Arab supporters who share a common passion.
The fact that the competition is being hosted by Qatar, the first Arab nation to host the FIFA World Cup 2022, makes the inaugural event even more poignant. Teams will face-off against one another in six of Qatar's eight new World Cup Stadiums, gaining the opportunity, for some, to experience the country's facilities before the 2022 event and for all teams to participate in what is being proclaimed as the first Arab World Cup.
The 2021 Arab Cup Format
Twenty-three teams have signed up to play in the 2021 Arab Cup, which will comprise thirty-nine matches held over between November and December. From those participants, nine will automatically qualify for the Round of 16 stage - qualifying will be based on the April 2021 FIFA ranking. The remaining 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 the Round of 16.
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 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.
The 2021 tournament will see the following nations competing in Qatar:
Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
The draw, which FIFA Director of Competitions Manolo Zubiria, and several Arab football legends, called, allocated positions for the seven Group Stage qualifier matches and the four Final Stage (Round of 16 to the Final) groups (Groups A-D).
Group Stage Qualifiers Draw Results:
The fourteen teams were allocated places based on their April FIFA ranking and the principals of the draw (highest-ranked team versus lowest-ranked team, second highest versus second lowest, and so on).
Q1 - Oman vs Somalia
Q2 - Lebanon vs Djibouti
Q3 - Jordan vs South Sudan
Q4 - Bahrain vs Kuwait
Q5 - Mauritania vs Yeman
Q6 - Palestine vs Comoros
Q7 - Libya vs Sudan
Final Stage Groups A-D Draw Results:
As host of the tournament and current AFC Asian Champions, Qatar was automatically allocated a place in Group A. As a recent CAF Cup of Champions winner, Algeria was automatically assigned a place in Group D. The rest of the group allocations were subject to a random draw.
The 2021 tournament is 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. And, deliver a perfect occasion for Arabs to unite, especially poignant for those caught up in the 2017-2020 blockade between Qatar and a number of its neighbouring countries.
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