Qatar is back to the European qualifiers for 2022, where it is set to face off with Serbia, Portugal and Luxembourg in Group A.
Qatar’s national team is set to play against Serbia in the FIFA World Cup European Qualifying match at the Nagyerdei Stadion in the Hungarian city of Debrecen on Wednesday evening.
The reigning Asian champions Qatar, a guest team in the qualifiers, are placed in Group A along with Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg, Serbia, and Azerbaijan.
— Qatar Football Association (@QFA_EN) August 30, 2021
“The match is of great importance especially as we are facing a strong team that has its reputation and leads the group, equal with Portugal with (7) points, and it has players who are able to change the result at any time,” Sanchez said during a pre-match press conference on Tuesday.
The Spaniard said that although the game won’t be an easy one, his men are “able to match the opponent” especially following preparing at a short camp in Austria.
All matches will be played in Europe to make it easier for teams there to participate in the tournament.
This will be the Qataris first game since their impressive run in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, in which they were stopped in their tracks at the semi-finals.
Qatar drew with Panama (3-3) before winning Honduras (2-0) and El Salvador 3-2. They were then defeated 1-0 by host nation United States, ending a brilliant showcase at the 2021 Gold Cup.
Sanchez expressed his confidence in his team ahead of tonight’s match, “these strong confrontations will have a positive impact on our players as a result of contact with strong European teams,” he noted.
“The pressure of the matches definitely will affect the players, and it is necessary to deal with it regardless of the huge number of matches.”
Serbia is ranked 29 in global rankings, according to FIFA. The European squad drew with Portugal (2-2) and Jamaica (1-1) in their last four internationals. They crushed Azerbaijan (2-1) in the other two matches before losing to former Asian champions Japan (0-1).
“We have the capabilities to compete and benefit from encounters in order to gain experience from strong European teams,” said Qatar captain Hassan al-Haydos.
Al-Haydos said in a statement to the press that his team’s match against Serbia will not be an easy one due to the Serbian team’s high technical level and global ranking, “but we will try our best in order to know the strengths and weaknesses of the team,” he added.
Hosts of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar, are participating in the qualifiers as a practice in preparation for the mega tournament next year on home soil.
The reigning AFC Asian Cup titleholders automatically qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2022 as the host nation.
On Monday, the Qatar Football Association announced that striker Mohammed Muntari will not be participating in the qualifiers due to an injury.
Qatar is set to play against Luxembourg on 7 September in their third and last international.
“The Serbian team is very strong, and includes stars who play in the European leagues. However, we have prepared very well, especially given our performance in the Gold Cup, our abilities, and high morale,” Qatar’s star Almoez Ali said.
The national team will face Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal on September 4 following the match with Serbia.