The tournament will be a preparatory event ahead of the 2022 World Cup….
The 2021 FIFA Arab Cup is set to be a huge opportunity for elite teams from the Arab world, feels H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC).
The draw for the same was held at the Katara Opera House in Doha on Tuesday.
The Arab Cup will feature 23 Arab teams from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the Confederation of African Football (CAF). Top-nine ranked teams given a spot in the group stages, with seven teams out of the remaining 14 set to progress to the group stage after winning a single-leg playoff.
Hassan Al Thawadi hailed the concept behind the tournament, noting that this is the first-time elite Arab teams will be competing in a FIFA-sanctioned tournament. Several top sides from the region will be part of the tournament including Qatar, Iraq, Tunisia, UAE, Syria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Egypt.
“This tournament will see elite teams from across the Arab world compete in a FIFA-sanctioned tournament for the first time,” he said on the sidelines of the group stage draw for the tournament.
The Arab Cup is set to act as a preparatory competition to test the operational readiness of Qatar ahead of the 2022 World Cup which will be held in the Middle-East nation. It will be held from 30 November 2021 and the final is scheduled for 18 December 2021 – exactly a year before the 2022 World Cup final is set to take place.
Al Thawadi felt that the tournament will not just be a test of Qatar’s preparations but also will excite the football fans in the region.
“A tournament of this magnitude – played exactly a year before the World Cup – is sure to excite our football crazy region as we continue preparations for 2022. We look forward to hosting the FIFA Arab Cup and using the tournament to confirm our plans for the World Cup, which is just around the corner,” he added.
Nasser Al Khater, CEO, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC, also echoed the thoughts of Al Thawadi and stressed how the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup will be put to test by fans, officials and players.
“Following the successful hosting of the FIFA Club World Cup in 2019 and 2021, the FIFA Arab Cup provides Qatar with yet another opportunity to test our plans and preparations ahead of the FIFA World Cup,” he said.
“Fans, players and officials will have the opportunity to use World Cup infrastructure, including stadiums, training sites and other facilities. We greatly look forward to hosting national teams from across the Arab world as we build up to the biggest sporting event in our region’s history in 2022.”
H.E. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani, President of the Qatar Football Association (QFA), was of the opinion that apart from testing Qatar’s facilities, the Arab Cup also provided an opportunity for Qatar’s national team to gain valuable competitive experience ahead of the World Cup. By virtue of being the hosts, the Asian champions have secured automatic qualification for the World Cup.
“Qatar is very excited to host the FIFA Arab Cup later this year. National teams from across the region will have the opportunity to participate in a high-profile tournament which is sure to capture the attention of fans everywhere.
“This is also an important step for the national team’s development and the entire country as we fine-tune preparations for the FIFA World Cup in 2022.”