Everything you need to know about Qatar
Qatar′s CONCACAF Gold Cup 2023 fixtures:
Qatar’s major tournament record:
Best World Cup result: Group stages- 2022.
CONCACAF Gold Cup
Best Gold Cup result: Semi-finals- 2021.
AFC Asia Cup
Best Asia Cup result: Winners- 2019.
Best Copa América result: Group Stages- 2019.
Qatar at Gold Cup 2023: can they get to the final this time?
First things first, you’re probably wondering, why are Qatar playing at the Gold Cup?
Well, as is the answer to most football-related questions these days, it’s money.
Back in 2020, CONCACAF announced that Qatar would compete at the 2021 and 2023 Gold Cups as an invitee.
Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Korea Republic and South Africa had all featured as guests in the past, although this hadn’t happened since 2005.
The same day, CONCACAF unveiled Qatar Airways as a main sponsor of the Gold Cup, Nations League and Champions League, which is just a lucky coincidence isn’t it?
Setting all that aside, the Maroons were actually impressive at this tournament two years ago, beating Grenada, Honduras and El Salvador before being ousted 1-0 by USA in the semi-finals.
They were probably unlucky not to win in Austin that night, with Hassan Al-Haydos attempting a Panenka-penalty that went over the bar, before the U.S. snatched the go-ahead goal late on.
The whole point of Qatar being at that Gold Cup was to help them prepare for their World Cup debut, at which they lost all three games and were widely ridiculed for being the worst-performing hosts of all-time.
With that World Cup now over, it seems bizarre that the Maroons are returning stateside, but here they are.
Carlos Queiroz is the new man at the helm, the seventh different national team he’s been in charge of, after his native Portugal, UAE, South Africa, Portugal again, Iran, Colombia, Egypt and then Iran again.
Next January, Qatar will also host the AFC Asia Cup, after China withdrew from hosting, at which they’ll be seeking to retain their title.
At this tournament, they’ll begin by facing Haiti in Houston, before taking on Honduras in Phoenix and then Mexico in San Francisco.
Group B is possibly the most competitive of all the sections, but Qatar will fancy their chances of advancing, possibly doing some damage in the knockout phase too.
Qatar team news
Since Carlos Queiroz took over, many of Qatar’s stalwarts, who have well over 100 caps, have not been called up, as he looks to the future.
Eight players, Saad Al-Sheeb, Abdelkarim Hassan, Boualem Khoukhi, Ró-Ró, Karim Boudiaf, Abdulaziz Hatem, Akram Afif and Hassan Al-Haydos, who have a humongous 902 caps between them, all appear to have no national team futures.
Afif and Al-Haydos in particular were two of the most-talented players in this squad, so freezing them out, especially in Afif’s case given that he’s only 26, seems strange.
Of the original roster that Queiroz selected, Ahmed Alaaeldin has withdrawn due to injury, with 19 year old Mahdi Salem, who’s made just four senior appearance coming into replace him.
Despite the fact many of their best players are not here, there is still expirence and talent in this team, all of whom ply their trade in the Qatar Stars League.
Qatar′s key players: Homam Ahmed
One of the players they’re pinning their hopes on for the future is Homam Ahmed.
He’s a 23 year old left-back who started all five games at the Gold Cup two summers ago, scoring against Honduras, also starting all three World Cup matches last November.
Previous manager Félix Sánchez Bas played a back three/five, a system in which Ahmed thrived, given that he had more licence to attack as wing-back.
His defensive skills will be tested in a back four, but in matches when Qatar dominate the ball, namely their group opener against Haiti, he’ll be expected to get forward and support the attack.
Qatar′s key players: Mohammed Muntari
To date, Qatar have scored just one World Cup goal, a head by Mohammed Muntari in a 3-1 defeat to Senegal at Al-Thumama Stadium.
This is one of 14 international goals the 29 year old Ghanaian-born striker has to his name, also netting against Grenada at the Gold Cup and Algeria at the Arab Cup, both in 2021.
Muntari has hardly featured for club side Al-Duhail in 2023, but scored a confidence-boosting goal in a friendly victory over Jamaica earlier this month.
With Hassan Al-Haydos and Akram Afif no longer in the national team picture, they’ll need Muntari to step up and score some goals if Qatar are going to make another deep run.
Qatar′s key players: Almoez Ali
Their main man for goals though remains Almoez Ali.
The 26-year old, born in Sudan, needs one more goal to become Qatar’s top goal-scorer of all-time, currently level on 42 with Mansour Muftah who’s record has stood since the year 2000.
Ali was the top-scorer at the 2019 AFC Asia Cup with nine goals, including breaking the deadlock in the final victory over Japan.
Since, he’s become the first, and so far only, Qatari to net at a Copa América, also scoring three times at the FIFA Arab Cup and four at the 2021 Gold Cup.
Two summers ago, Ali scored against Panama, Grenada and then twice against El Salvador, thereby picking up the golden boot and featuring in the team of the tournament, alongside Akram Afif.
If you tune into any Qatar matches at this summer’s tournament, Ali is certainly the man to keep an eye out for.
Qatar′s possible starting line-up for CONCACAF Gold Cup 2023
Qatar′s full squad for CONCACAF Gold Cup 2023