Asian champions Qatar target maiden trophy| MENAFN.COM

Saturday, 22 January 2022 05:18 GMT

Asian champions Qatar target maiden trophy


(MENAFN- The Peninsula) #Arab Cup 2021

Doha: Qatar will enter the brand new Al Bayt Stadium as one of the favourite teams to clinch the inaugural FIFA Arab Cup title. The reigning Asian champions, known as“The Golden Generation”, are aiming for their maiden crown in the tournament as they start their campaign against Bahrain in a Group A match today.

Al Annabi have appeared in the Arab Cup events only twice – in 1985 in Saudi Arabia and at home in 1998 – and to say that the Felix Sanchez-coached are better placed to win the title than ever would not be an overstatement.

While Morocco (28), Tunisia (29), Algeria (32), Egypt (45) and Saudi Arabia (48) are ranked better than Qatar (51) in the FIFA Ranking, the home side will be one of the main title contenders in the event, owing to their impressive record against Arab teams in high-profile tournaments, recently. 

On the way to their maiden Asian Cup title in 2019 in the UAE, Qatar defeated Lebanon and Saudi Arabia in the group stage, before humbling Iraq and the hosts in the knockout stage, ahead of the final against Japan, which they won 3-1.

Al Annabi will also enjoy the support from the home fans, which takes the best out of them. All Qatar games are expected to be played in packed FIFA World Cup stadiums.

Ahead of the Arab Cup, Qatar played against several strong teams including Portugal, Ireland, Serbia, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan during the European Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Al Annabi – already qualified for the World Cup as hosts – featured in the European Qualifiers as a guest team. 

After a good start to the year including phenomenal performance in the CONCACAF Gold Cup where they reached the semi-finals as debutants, Al Annabi are on an eight-match winless streak. 

But coach Sanchez is confident his team will put up a good display against the best Arab sides after their European campaign. 

“Participation in the European qualifiers was very useful in all respects, and in general we gained great experiences through contact with strong international teams,” said Sanchez.

After their final European qualifier against Azerbaijan on November 14, Qatar headed to Spain for a 10-day conditioning camp to get ready for the Arab Cup. 

Sanchez announced a full-strength Qatar squad for the Arab Cup last week, welcoming back captain Hassan Al Haydos, who missed team's last two matches in Europe due to an injury.

The national squad also includes Asian Cup 2019 top scorer Almoez Ali, feared striker Akram Afif and seasoned Abdelkarim Hassan besides Al Duhail star Bassam Al Rawi.

After meeting Bahrain in their opening match, Qatar will square off with Oman on December 3 before taking on Iraq in their final group match on December 6. The knockout stage will start on December 10.

 

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