2022 World Cup Hosts Qatar Given Guest Spot in European Qualifiers

Published December 9th, 2020 - 08:38 GMT
Qatar football team (Photo: AFP)
Qatar football team (Photo: AFP)

Qatar have been invited by UEFA to join a World Cup qualifying group containing European champions Portugal, as they look to prepare for the 2022 World Cup.

Qatar are the reigning Asian Champions and are also assured of a spot in the 2022 World Cup as hosts. But the Maroons are looking to fine-tune their preparations for their first ever World Cup campaign.

The Asian champions' will be in Group A which also contains the Republic of Ireland, Serbia, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg apart from Portugal. Their results will not count towards qualification though.

They will face each side twice, but their 'home' matches will be staged in Europe to allow shorter flight times for their opponents. Qatar are also set to play in the Copa America and Gold Cup next year as they look to gain further experience from competing against strong footballing nations.

UEFA confirmed the news on Tuesday and announced Qatar would begin their campaign against Luxembourg at a neutral venue yet to be confirmed on March 24, 2021.

Felix Sanchez Bas' side, who are ranked 59th in the world and won their first ever Asian Cup with a 3-1 win over Japan in last year's final, will take on Portugal next September and October.

H.E. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani, President of Qatar Football Association, said: “We are delighted that Qatar will participate in UEFA qualifying matches for the next FIFA World Cup, which our country is proud to be hosting. Playing matches in Group A against high-quality teams provides our national team with an excellent foundation as we continue our journey of preparation ahead of 2022.”

“Our squad has made major strides in recent years, including winning the AFC Asian Cup in 2019, and we are determined to showcase the progress we’ve made and the talent our country possesses when we host the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East and Arab World in 2022," he added.

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