Qatar’s Al-Annabi has returned home after facing Chile in its last friendly before the FIFA World Cup.
The South Americans held Qatar to a 2-2 draw in Vienna, besting the Asian champions in the first half of the match.
Alexis Sánchez netted the goal with a strike in the bottom right corner after Akram Afif was swiped off the ball by Chile’s Gabriel Suazo.
Sánchez’s goal triggered motivations toward the Chilean squad since it was the team’s first goal after they failed to score in the last six matches.
Qatar’s Afif redeemed himself in the match as he sent in an equaliser in the 59th minute.
Team captain Hassan Al Haydos positioned Chile on the edge as he shot an intense screamer into the box.
Goalscorer Arturo Vidal saved his team from defeat minutes before the game ended.
The 35-year-old midfielder received a through pass to skate the ball, beating goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham from stopping the goal.
The Felix Sanchez-coached side draw with Chile could be seen as either a win or a loss for the country; a win since Chile is ranked 19 places above Al-Annabi, who is 48th on the FIFA rankings.
Chile is an outstanding football team despite being absent from the upcoming winter tournament.
Yet that absence from the World Cup could be a worrying factor for the Qataris, who will face far more difficult teams in less than two months.
Through its preparations, the Qataris have encountered a difficult road.
At its training camp in Austria, Qatar entered the match against Chile after losing to Canada 2-0.
The Canadians eased Qatar on the pitch with the support of Cyle Larin and his teammate Jonathan David, who struck early goals in the match.
The match was considered an equal challenge for both teams since Canada is ranked 43rd in the world and will appear in its second world cup since 1986.
However, Qatar’s lineup was not operating to the best of its ability at the match as it failed to return with its own goals in the game.
Qatar’s worst performance in the friendlies was against Croatia’s under-23s as they were overwhelmed with a 3-0 loss.
Childish mistakes led to the collapse of Qatar’s defence, as Croatia’s domestic players beat the team.
The loss was shocking for the Maroons as they went undefeated in a four-nation tournament earlier last month.
Qatar defeated Ghana 2-1 and tied up with Morocco and Jamaica in a tight competitive match, which leveled up their FIFA ranks.
Consistent performance will be demanded from Qatar as they go against Ecuador, who pocket promising young talents like Moises Caicedo.
For his versatile playing style, Caicedo has been a target for big clubs this summer, like Manchester United.
Dubbed as an attacking midfielder in the making, Caicedo is essential for Ecuador if they seek to beat Qatar at home.
Additionally, the South Americans share a young and inexperienced roster similar to Qatar, as several starters will debut in the World Cup for the first time.
African and European champions
African champions Senegal pose a formidable challenge for Qatar as they are led by Sadio Mane and Koulidou Koulibaly.
Senegal is seen as an underdog for this year’s tournament due to their potential.
Champions of Africa Cup of Nations, the squad defeated Egypt twice, a predominantly strong team in their drive for their first AFCON title and a seat at the World Cup.
Additionally, The Netherlands will return to the international stage seeking to prove themselves.
The team has competed in ten FIFA World Cup, appearing in the finals three times.
Looking to break their record for playing most World Cup finals without ever winning the tournament, the Dutch will give it all they can to advance to the knockout stages.
Powered by Virgil van Dijk, the team is considered the best in the upcoming tournament.
Ranked eight on the list, not only are they favorite to beat their group contest, but favorites to lift the trophy.
Regardless of what transpires on the pitch, Qatar’s men will make history as they represent their country for the first time at the first Middle East World Cup.
Yet, who knows what will happen as Qatar surprised the football world in their run for the 2019 AFC title.