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World Cup: Qatar team profile

The only debutants at the World Cup, hosts Qatar will be hoping to recapture the form that saw them become Asian champions in 2019.

The Maroon are seen as real underdogs heading into the tournament but plenty of planning has gone into their campaign and coach Felix Sanchez's journey from Barcelona youth coach to the World Cup indicates how they will look to play.

Qatar have been handed a tough draw, opening their campaign against Ecuador, before then meeting Senegal and the Netherlands in Group A.

They are priced at 6/1 to qualify for the last-16 so the challenge is obvious but they can take encouragement from the fact that only once has the host nation been eliminated at the group stage of the World Cup.

WhatWorld Cup
WhereQatar
When20th November - 18th December 2022
How to watchAll matches will be shown on either the BBC or ITV
OddsBrazil 9/2, England 11/2, France 6/1, Argentina 7/1, Spain 8/1

What is Qatar's World Cup record?

This will be Qatar's debut at the World Cup, having qualified automatically as hosts. The Maroon will be the first nation to debut as hosts since Italy did so at the second World Cup in 1934.

Qatar previously won seven of their eight games in the second round of qualifying for World Cup 2018 but finished bottom of their pool at the third stage, although they did beat South Korea amongst their two victories.

How did Qatar qualify?

Qatar qualified as hosts and have had to seek competitive preparation elsewhere. Most recently they were third in last year's Arab Cup.

The Maroon lost to eventual champions Algeria in the semi-finals, before beating Egypt on penalties in the third-place play-off.

They were also third in last year's Concacaf Gold Cup, again losing to the eventual champions, who this time were the USA.

Who is in Qatar's group?

Sanchez and his players will make history on Sunday 20th November when they take on Ecuador in a match they are 9/4 to win.

That game takes place in Al Khor, before they move on to Doha to face African champions Senegal on 25th November.

In their final group game Qatar head back to Al Khor to take on three-time finalists the Netherlands on 29th November.

Related Group A News

World Cup - Football: Group A preview

World Cup - Football: Ecuador team profile

World Cup - Football: Netherlands team profile

World Cup - Football: Senegal team profile

Who is Qatar's manager?

Sanchez wrote his name into Qatari football folklore by leading the side to Asian Cup glory in 2019.

The Spaniard moved to the country in 2006 to work for the Aspire Academy and made his way through the system, being appointed the under-19s coach in 2013 before taking over the senior side in 2017.

As is often the case with Spanish coaches, and especially with Catalans, he preaches a possession-based style with the ball and a high press without it.

His side also plays with real unity and spirit that often allows them to play beyond the sum of their parts.

Who is Qatar's star player?

As hinted at previously, togetherness is what drives Qatar but they do have a sprinkling of quality and their main man looks set to be Almoez Ali.

The 26-year-old Sudan-born striker, who is 250/1 to be the tournament's top scorer,  is tall enough to be a threat in the air and has the mobility to run in behind.

Ali used these traits to score a tournament-record nine goals in Qatar's Asian Cup success, including a sublime bicycle kick in the 3-1 final win over Japan. He also netted a combined seven times in the Arab Cup and Gold Cup.

The forward currently plays for Al-Duhail and might see this as a tournament to push his chances for a European move.

Who could be Qatar's breakout star?

Another player who could potentially play in Europe is defender Bassam Al-Rawi.

Born in Baghdad to a former Iraq international, he is a naturalised Qatari having joined the Aspire Academy as a youngster and has spent time in Spain with Celta Vigo.

Currently at Al-Duhail, he is a ball-playing defender capable of featuring either centrally or as a full-back. Not the tallest, his best position is as the middle man in the back three where he can find space and set the play up from deep.

What is Qatar's predicted line-up and tactics?

Predicted line-up (3-5-2): Saad Al Sheeb; Bassam Hisham, Bassam Al-Rawi, Abdelkarim Hassan; Pedro Miguel Correia, Ali Assadalla, Tarek Salman, Karim Boudiaf, Homam Ahmed; Almoez Ali, Akram Afif.

Sanchez favours a back three, while also often playing with two strikers. Ali and Akram Afif usually lead the line, with the latter being his country's main source of creativity.

Abdelkarim Hassan, who previously enjoyed a loan spell with Belgian side Eupen, offers height at the back, while Karem Boudiaf is a physical presence in midfield.

There is quality in this side but it is built to get the ball to Afif and Ali who are their best outlets.

How far can Qatar go?

This is a historic tournament for Qatar but there is no doubt that they are up against it. Their continental performances over the last few years deserve recognition but the World Cup is a step up.

An opening win over Ecuador, back at the tournament after missing out in 2018, is priced at 9/4, while they will also have to get something from either Senegal and the Netherlands.

They are 14/1 to win Group A and that is reflective of their chances and the feeling is they will become the second host side to drop out at the group stage.

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