Asian champions Qatar will be eager to win their maiden Arab Cup title, the 10th edition of which will be held in Qatar from November 30 to December 18. This is the second time Qatar is hosting the event and the Al Annabi will be one of the favourites.
The Arab Cup returns this year after a nine-year hiatus, the last Arab Cup was held in 2012 in Saudi Arabia with Morocco emerging triumphant after defeating Libya in the final.
The current generation of the Qatar team will have a golden chance to script history, and will be hoping they can lift the title one year before the country host the FIFA World Cup 2022. The Qatar team did not participate in most of the Arab Cup tournaments, having only taken part twice before in 1985 in Saudi Arabia and at home in 1998. Adel Khamis and Mubarak Mustafa are among the most prominent stars of Qatar team in the Arab Cup, in the seventh edition in 1998.
The lack of Qatar’s participation in the Arab Cup affected the emergence of many stars, but under current Spanish coach Felix Sanchez the team has many stars who can inspire the nation to victory. Qatar will start its campaign against Bahrain at the Al Bayt Stadium on November 30, before facing Oman on December 3 and Iraq on December 6.
Qatar stand a good chance of doing well in the tournament, having taken part in many continental championships recently. Sanchez’s men have been part of Copa America in 2019, before reaching the semi-finals of Gold Cup earlier this year. They are also playing in European Zone World Cup qualifiers as a guest team as part of their preparation for next year’s World Cup. Arab Cup will be a real test for Qatar, to determine country’s and team’s readiness at the World Cup.
The Arab Cup will be the ideal rehearsal that the teams are looking for to assess their level and try to correct mistakes, as the participation of African countries will positively affect the technical level, while creating a strong competitive atmosphere.
Preparations are currently in full swing to organise the tournament that will be a rehearsal for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. The matches will be held at six of the eight World Cup stadiums – Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakra, Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, Al Thumama Stadium, Education City Stadium and Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.
Twenty-three national teams were invited to participate, with seven out of 14 advancing from the round of qualifying matches to meet hosts Qatar and the eight highest-ranked nations, who qualified directly. The 16 teams will now compete in a group stage followed by knockout matches, making for a total of 32 games played over 19 days.
The group stage consists of four groups which includes four teams. The top two teams from each group will qualify for the quarter-finals, and the final match of the tournament will be held on December 18, which is Qatar’s National Day.
Group A consists of Qatar, Iraq, Oman and Bahrain; Group B is made up of Tunisia, UAE, Syria and Mauritania, Group C comprises Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Palestine, while Group D has Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon and Sudan.
The Supreme Committee announced the implementation of the fan card system during the tournament, as all match ticket holders will have to issue a mandatory fan card to enter the tournament stadiums, which is a smart identification card that will allow fans to use public transportation for free during match days, and a smartphone application will be launched before the tournament.