Qatari Squad List for UEFA 2022 Qualifiers Revealed
The European 2022 World Cup qualifiers are due to start on March 24th. The year-long tournament will see fifty-five national teams contest the competition. Each team will battle for one of thirteen slots available to UEFA member teams at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Though Qatar, in its role as host nation for the 2022 tournament, automatically qualifies for a place at the event, they will join the European campaign. The opportunity will provide the Qatari national team with sound competitive exposure and act as pivotal preparation for the 2022 competition. As the kick-off date for the qualifiers first match days draws closer, Qatar’s football association recently revealed which players are in line to travel to Europe. The chosen squad will gain invaluable experience for their team. They will be up against a different type of opponent with a distinct style of play, not to mention some of the world’s best teams.
European Qualifiers - The Format
The European World Cup qualifiers comprise fifty-five member teams drawn into ten groups (A - J) - five groups comprising five teams each and five groups comprising six. The competition is contested in two rounds. Round One, held from March to November 2021, will see each team play both home and away matches against every other group member. All ten group winners will directly qualify for the World Cup, while the runners up from each of the groups will go into Round Two - the play-offs.
The play-offs, which include the ten group runners-up plus the two best UEFA Nations League group winners*, will be held in March 2022. Participating teams will be split into three groups, each hosting two single-leg semi-finals and one single-leg final. The winner from each group will qualify for the remaining slots at the World Cup.
The Qatari squad, invited as UEFA’s tournament guests, have been placed in Group A for Round One of the competition. The Qatari’s will compete alongside Portugal, Serbia, the Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan under the following schedule:
- Matchday 1, March 24th: Qatar vs Luxembourg (home)
- Matchday 2, March 27th: Qatar vs Azerbaijan (home)
- Matchday 3, March 30th: Qatar vs Republic of Ireland (home)
- Matchday 4, September 1st: Qatar vs Serbia (home)
- Matchday 5, September 4th: Qatar vs Portugal (home)
- Matchday 6, September 7th: Luxembourg vs Qatar (away)
- Matchday 7, October 8th: Portugal vs Qatar (away)
- Matchday 8, October 12th: Republic of Ireland vs Qatar (away)
- Matchday 9, November 11th: Serbia vs Qatar (away)
- Matchday 10, November 14th: Azerbaijan vs Qatar (away)
Having already qualified for the World Cup, the results from matches involving the Qatari team will not count towards qualification. In addition, to reduce travel fatigue for the European players, who will be counting every point towards qualifying, all games against Qatar, home and away, will be played in Europe.
The Qatari Squad
The Qatari team squad list, put forward by team manager Félix Sánchez Bas, includes some new faces as well as plenty of experienced players - many of whom made their way through Qatar's prestigious Aspire Sports Academy together and have played in the senior team with one another for over five years.
The majority of players on the list hail from two of Qatar's most successful clubs, Al Sadd SC and Al Duhail SC. Many of those names also appeared in the team's most continental successful campaign to date, the 2019 Asian Cup, where the team were named Asian Champions. Stalwarts and highest capped team members - captain Hassan Al Haydos, goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb, defenders Abdelkarim Hassan, Pedro Miguel and Tarek Salman, midfielders Boualem Khoukhi, Abdul Aziz Hatem and Karim Boudiaf, and forwards Almoez Ali and Ahmed Alaaedin, will provide the experienced backbone of the team. Along with Assim Madibo and Bassam Al Rawi in defence and Salam Al Hajri in midfield, these players also have spent time playing in Europe, which can only aid their game.
Aside from Musab Khader (DF), Moayad Hassan (MF), Ismail Mohamed (FW), and Mohammed Muntari (FW), the rest of the squad for Europe are relative newcomers. However, what youngsters like Ahmed Suhail (DF), Humam Al Amin (DF), Abdullah Abd Al Salman (MF), Khaled Muneer (MF), Mohammed Wadd (MF), Youssef Abderisag (FW), Mahmud Abu Nada (GK) and Salah Zakaria (GK), lack in experience they will make up for in skills, ability and drive. These were the rising stars in their youth teams and continue their upward trajectories as they test their mettle in their senior teams.
The Qatari’s, despite having some experience in Europe, will, as a whole, benefit from familiarising themselves with European style football - disciplined, defensive, efficient, team play. They will be hoping for good results against their European counterparts, essentially to raise their profile and give the team a confidence boost before the 2022 games.
During the March window, the Qataris will face-off against Luxembourg on March 24th, Azerbaijan on the 27th and the Republic of Ireland on the 30th. Against Luxembourg and Azerbaijan, Qatar should, all things being equal, lead the pack. Luxembourg, currently ranked 98th in the FIFA rankings, and Azerbaijan, ranked 108th, have both struggled to improve their game in recent times. Against the Republic of Ireland, Qatar also has a chance to make an impact. The Irish squad, ranked 43rd, have similarly struggled in the last few years to maintain form. Qatar, on the other hand, has gone from strength to strength in recent years. In conjunction with manager Félix Sánchez Bas taking over at the helm, the team has been on a relatively steady climb in status and grade; the pinnacle being its first continental win, the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. They currently sit at 58th in the rankings.
When the tournament is picked up again during the September window, Qatar will go head-to-head with Serbia and Portugal. The Serbians are sure to pose a challenge for the host team; ranked 30th, Serbia has played consistently well over recent years and improved its game significantly since 2015 when it was ranked 56th. Against Portugal, who sit 5th in the table, Qatar will meet the toughest rivals in their group. Since 2000, the Portuguese team has been consistently ranked in the world’s Top 20 best teams and have qualified for every World Cup since the turn of the 21st century. The current squad also boast various top players within their ranks, including one of the world’s best players Cristiano Ronaldo.
Reportedly, the Qatari squad are in training at the country’s main sports grounds, Aspire Academy. No doubt they will be busy increasing their fitness levels ahead of the games and working on game tactics. Regardless of the final scores, the experience in Europe will definitely provide the team with valuable takeaways to take forward to 2022.
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