DOHA: HH Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani will inaugurate 2021 FIFA Arab Cup Qatar on Tuesday evening at the Al Bayt Stadium where Asian champions Qatar will host Bahrain in their opening match.
A total 16 teams are in the fray as the tournament, a FIFA test event for next year’s World Cup, gets under way across six spectacular stadiums.
Qatar, coached by Felix Sanchez, will hope to kick start their campaign on a positive note against the reigning champions in a Group A match.
Oman and former Asian champions Iraq are the other teams in the group.
Qatar is on an eight-match winless streak going into the tournament, but head coach Felix Sanchez exuded confidence.
“We will show good performance and show our ability to the other competing teams,” said the Spaniard, who came through the ranks of a junior since 2014 to take the senior team’s responsibility.
Qatar qualified for the CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-finals as debutants this year. The extensive run of international matches for the national team was a good decision. It remains to be seen how they translate that into success.
“The tournament will be difficult, as all participating teams are keen to win the title but we will strive to compete for the title,” added Sanchez.
Bahrain coach Helio Sousa said: “We are happy to take part in the tournament, which is sure to witness some exiting contests. We hope to start on a positive note.”
Bahrain’s captain and goalkeeper Syed Mohammed Jaffar said: We are ready for the opener against Qatar. The players have been preparing according to the plans set by the technical staff and we are eager to be in the middle of action.”
Six of the eight FIFA World Cup stadiums Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Al Janoub Stadium, Al Bayt Stadium, Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, Al Thumama Stadium and Education City Stadium that be used for the Arab competition.
Former Qatari star Ibrahim Khalfan said, “Qatar has prepared very well for the World Cup. We will be facing some difficult teams but Qatar’s attacking style of football will be tough to match for other nations.”
The group stage will continue until December 7, and then the top two of each group will qualify for the quarterfinals, which will be held on Dec 10-11.
The winners will qualify for the semifinals on Dec. 15 while the final will be held on December 18, which is also celebrated as Qatar National Day.