FIFA Ranking: 50
Qatar have never before qualified for a World Cup. Their only major title is the 2019 Asian Cup when they conceded only one goal during the tournament. That year Qatar were invited to play at the Copa America as guests and finished bottom of their group. In 2020, Qatar were invited to play at the CONCACAF Gold Cup as guests, losing to the United States in the semi-final.
How they qualified
As hosts, Qatar automatically qualified for the finals.
At the Arab Cup, held in Qatar as a World Cup test event in December 2021, they beat Egypt 5-4 on penalties in a third-place playoff. Qatar have five wins, two defeats and four draws in 11 friendlies in 2022. Between June 2022 and mid-autumn, the squad were locked-down at training camps in Austria and Spain.
A biggest test for the host nation
When Qatar play Ecuador in the World Cup showpiece opener on the 20th of November, an 18-year, billion dollar national project to build a respectable and possibly competitive national squad will be put to the test.
Victory in that opening match, the team’s first appearance at global soccer’s showpiece event, would give Qatar vital points and the momentum needed to make it through to the last 16.
Most of Qatar’s World Cup side, the majority of whom are nationals and expatriates born, raised and naturalised in Qatar, were scouted as kids and came up through the ranks of the $1.3 billion Aspire Academy.
Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, brother of Qatar’s ruling emir, established Aspire in 2004 to develop homegrown players, six years before Qatar’s national team automatically qualified for the 2022 World Cup when it was named host country.
Many of the side including star duo Akram Afif and top-scorer Almoez Ali have been playing together under Spanish-born coach Felix Sanchez since 2014, when he led them as an Under-19 Qatari side to the AFC youth championship title.
Ahmed Hashim said ”In Qatar, Sanchez is credited with instilling a distinctly Spanish style of one touch, small pass, good teamwork, possession-based play.”
Since June, Sanchez has taken Qatar’s players to training camps in Spain and Austria.
They emerged to play a string of friendlies in September, losing to Canada and Croatia’s Under-23’s and drawing with Chile and, in recent weeks, winning friendlies against Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras.
The mixed performance suggests the Gulf Arab state are no heavyweights , the team might not stand a chance against their other World Cup Group A opponents Senegal and the Netherlands.
But the Qatari side have surprised in the past, most famously when they won the Asian Cup in 2019 after a dramatic 3-1 final win over Japan and a 4-0 thrashing of tournament hosts United Arab Emirates in the semi-finals.
Team announced :