World Cup 2022 team preview: Hosts Qatar to struggle to get a point

Out trader Rob Jones takes a look at the hosts' chances of glory on home soil.

Akram Afif Qatar

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‘The Maroon’ make their World Cup debut on home soil when they kick things off on Sunday, November 20th against Ecuador. Since being awarded host nation status in December 2010, Qatar have invested a huge amount of resource into shaping their current and future national team.

In more recent years the side have moved away from their previous naturalisation tactics of recruitment and have put trust in the Aspire Academy to develop their own stars. Despite being debutants on the biggest stage, this group of players are their most successful ever, following their Asian Cup win in 2019. They’ve also experienced big competitions as a ‘guest side’ at Copa America 2019 & the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2021 where they were semi-finalists.

Our footy trader Rob Jones takes a look at how the Group A side could fare at World Cup 2022.

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Qatar World Cup 2022 qualifying record

Qualified automatically as host nation.

Who is the Qatar manager?

In charge since 2017, Felix Sanchez is the longest serving manager in the country’s history. The 46-year-old Catalan cemented himself as Qatar’s most successful coach of all-time with victory in the 2019 Asian Cup. Sanchez spent 10 years coaching at Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy from the age of 21 and his schooling there has been vital to the development of young Qatari talent.

From Barcelona, Sanchez transitioned to Qatar’s Aspire Academy before taking charge of the national side at various youth levels. Along the way to becoming senior team manager, Sanchez picked up an U19 Asian Cup in 2014. He’s developed many of his stars from the youth ranks into key players in the current senior squad.

Qatar World Cup squad

Unsurprisingly, there are no real household names in current Qatar squad with each player currently plying their trade in the domestic Qatar Stars League. This squad, however, will be far more familiar with each other than every other nation competing in the finals.

Qatar have been in a six-month training camp together, away from club commitments, to focus on World Cup preparations. Sanchez and his side have been travelling around Europe, operating day-to-day much like a club side would. In addition to this, many of the squad have come through the youth ranks together: eight of the U19 Asian Cup winning side went on to win the Senior Asian Cup together, six of those spent time together in Aspire Academy too.

This squad now has plenty of International experience and have worked their way into the Top 50 teams in FIFA’s rankings, having competed as guests in several major competitions as well as being a ‘ghost’ team in Europe’s World Cup qualifiers.

  • Goalkeepers: Saad Al Sheeb, Meshaal Barsham, Yousuf Hassan
  • Defenders: Pedro Miguel, Musaab Khidir, Tarek Salman, Bassam Al Rawi, Khoukhi Boualem, Abdelkarim Hassan, Ismael Mohammed, Homam Al Amin
  • Midfielders: Jassim Jabir, Ali Asad, Mohammed Waad, Salem Al Hajri, Assim Modibo, Mustafa Meshaal, Karim Boudiaf, Abdulaziz Hatim, Naif Alhadhrami
  • Forwards: Hassan Al-Haydos, Akram Afif, Almoez Ali, Mohammed Muntari, Ahmed Alaa, Khalid Muneer

Qatar Key Player

If Qatar are to have any success on home soil, much of the responsibility will fall on the shoulders of Almoez Ali. The 26-year-old striker, a product of Aspire Academy, has already broken multiple records for the national side and currently sits as his country’s highest goalscorer of all time.

In 2019, he was key to their Asian Cup success scoring nine times and setting an all-time record for goals in a single Asian Cup. Ali also topped the scoring charts in the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Clearly, he has an eye for goal, and if Qatar can carve out a couple of chances in each game, Ali will be sure to take at least one.

Almoez Ali Qatar

Qatar One to Watch

Like Almoez Ali, Akram Afif has been a standout at all age levels for Qatar and been involved in all their major successes. Another Aspire Academy star, Afif came to prominence in Europe in 2016 when he signed for Villarreal.

Although he spent much of his time on loan across other parts of Spain and Europe, Afif returned to Qatar a far more rounded player. The pacy forward can play wide left or centrally and will be an outlet for any attacking threat Qatar carry.

Qatar World Cup Prospects

With a far from ideal draw, there shouldn’t be too much expected of the host nation here and they look rightful outsiders to qualify from Group A. Home advantage should, however, give Qatar some optimism. They are already well accustomed to the conditions and stadiums the group games will take place in and will have the overwhelming support of the home crowd.

In addition to this, the squad are already working together and do not have the limited preparation time other teams will have to face with the World Cup disrupting domestic leagues. Any positive result in the group should be seen as a success.

Qatar World Cup betting tips

With very little expected of them, Qatar can embrace their underdog status as they look to make footballing history. With the support of their home fans, the opener against Ecuador looks the best chance of picking up something.

Other group games versus Senegal and the Netherlands follow and look much harder tasks on paper. Senegal, the reigning AFCON champions, started very slowly en-route to picking up that title and should they fail to pick up anything in their opener the match with Qatar becomes must-win.

In the final group game, Netherlands will potentially have the group won and could well field a weakened side. There are opportunities for the host nation to pick up at least a point. QATAR OVER 0.5 GROUP STAGE POINTS/ DOUBLE CHANCE IN ALL GAMES

Qatar World Cup 2022 Winner Odds

Qatar World Cup 2022 Fixtures

November 20, 4pm: Qatar v Ecuador (BBC)

November 25, 1pm: Qatar v Senegal (BBC)

November 29, 3pm: Netherlands v Qatar (ITV)

CLICK BELOW FOR TEAM PREVIEWS ON QATAR’S GROUP A RIVALS

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

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