*Al Annabi will join Group A to boost preparations for World Cup on home soil
Qatar’s national team will participate in UEFA’s FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign.
The Asian champions will join Group A – alongside UEFA Euro 2016 winners Portugal, Serbia, Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg, and Azerbaijan, a press statement issued by Qatar Football Association on Tuesday said.
Qatar will play their ‘home’ fixtures on European soil in order to facilitate shorter travel times for their group opponents. As the FIFA World Cup 2022 host nation, Qatar has already qualified for the tournament and therefore their results will not count towards the final standings in the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) qualifying.
HE 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.”
The president added: “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.”
The move mirrors the approach taken by France for the 2016 European Championship that they hosted.
As well as playing World Cup qualifying matches in Europe, Qatar will also participate in the Copa America and CONCACAF Gold Cup next summer.
Reuters adds: The European qualifying competition begins in March, with 13 countries from the continent going through to the 32-team finals.
There will be three rounds of fixtures in March, three more in September and two each in October and November.
Only the winners of the 10 groups will qualify automatically for the finals, which are to take place in November and December of 2022.
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