Belgrade: Qatar are looking to return to winning ways in their upcoming European Qualifiers to regain confidence ahead of the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021, which starts later this month.
The Asian champions will play Serbia on Thursday before meeting Azerbaijan on November 14 in their ninth and 10th round of the European Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Team Qatar are featuring in the event as a guest side to prepare for the home World Cup.
The Felix Sanchez-coached side is eager to bounce back from a six-match win-less streak in the upcoming matches to be played in Belgrade and Baku respectively.
Qatar started this year brightly and at one stage the Al Annabi were unbeaten in 12 games, with a 1-0 loss to USA at the CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-final breaking their streak in late July.
Qatar’s superb performance as a guest side at the CONCACAF Gold Cup helped them climbed 16 spots to attain 42nd spot in the FIFA World Rankings. It was Qatar’s highest-ever ranking, equalling the mark they set in 1993.
However, the Asian champions suffered a dip in form following their CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-final defeat. They were beaten by Portugal twice and also lost their matches against Serbia and Republic of Ireland. A 1-1 draw against Luxembourg was the best result for the World Cup hosts in their last six matches.
An improved performance in the games against Serbia and Azerbaijan is much-needed for Qatar, who are targeting their maiden Arab Cup title in front of home fans.
The highly-anticipated tournament, featuring 16 of Arab world’s top national teams will be played from November 30 to December 18 at Qatar’s six FIFA World Cup venues. The hosts are in tough Group A, which also includes Bahrain, Iraqi and Oman.
Qatar defender Bassam Al Rawi recently said the national team will do its best to bounce back ahead of the Arab Cup.
“We must look back at the individual and collective mistakes we made. We must rectify them quickly, especially since we are heading to the Arab Cup on home soil. We must re-evaluate and quickly restore our pride,” he said.
“It begins with us as players, and everyone must review himself. We hope to bounce back in the upcoming matches, starting with the next series of matches in the European qualifiers,” he added.
Earlier this week, Sanchez announced strong Qatar squad for the upcoming games. The squad includes Hassan Al Haydos, Akram Afif, Al Moez Ali and goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb. On Monday, Sanchez also included Al Rayyan winger Nayef Al Hadrami, who trained with the squad. Both the European Qualifiers will kick off at 8pm, Qatar time.
Source: Qatar Olympic Committee