The time is 04:31:05am
UEFA preliminary draw for FIFA World Cup 2022â¢: seeded teams confirmed
As excitement mounts ahead of the UEFA preliminary draw for the FIFA World Cup 2022â¢ that is due to take place on 7 December at 18:00 CET as a virtual event in Zurich, Belgium were today confirmed as the top-seeded team in Pot 1 following the publication of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.
The Red Devils will be joined in Pot 1 by the other top-placed European teams in the ranking: France, England, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.
Based on the ranking, the remaining 45 UEFA member associations will be allocated as follows:
Pot 2: Switzerland, Wales, Poland, Sweden, Austria, Ukraine, Serbia, Turkey, Slovakia and Romania
Pot 3: Russia, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Czech Republic, Norway, Northern Ireland, Iceland, Scotland, Greece and Finland
Pot 4: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Israel, Belarus, Georgia and Luxembourg
Pot 5: Armenia, Cyprus, Faroe Islands, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Kosovo, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Latvia and Andorra
Pot 6: Malta, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar and San Marino
The teams drawn will be allocated to a group in alphabetical order, from Group A to Group J (i.e. the first team drawn will be allocated to Group A, the second team to Group B and so forth). When a draw constraint applies or is anticipated to apply, the team drawn will be allocated to the first available group in alphabetical order as indicated by the draw constraint programme.
As Pot 6 will only contain five teams, these teams will be drawn into the sixth position in groups F to J.
All teams within a group will play each other twice in a home-and-away format between March and November 2021. The ten group winners will qualify directly for Qatar 2022, with the ten runners-up advancing to the play-offs.
Besides the ten runners-up from the group stage, the play-offs will also include the two best group winners from the UEFA Nations League 2020-2021 overall ranking that did not qualify directly for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and did not enter the play-offs as runners-up. The 12 teams will be split into three play-off paths, which will feature single-leg knockout matches in March 2022 to determine the last three European nations to book a place in Qatar.
The full draw procedures, including details on constraints, are available here.
Fans around the world will be able to follow the draw live on FIFA.com and through FIFAâs broadcast partners.27/11/2020 08:57 AM
A Legend devoted to his sport
âTo bring football back to FIFA and FIFA back to football.â That was one of the pledges Gianni Infantino made during his campaign to win election as FIFA President. He fulfilled that pledge at the start of his term of office in 2016, setting up the FIFA Legends programme.
In their capacity as footballing legends who have made an indelible mark on the history of the game, a number of former players and coaches â both male and female â joined the movement with the idea of making their voices heard, utilising their profiles and bringing their skills to bear in support of the tournaments and events organised by FIFA.
Chief among these great names of the game was Diego Maradona, who passed away on Wednesday 25 November, leaving the world in mourning.
In January 2017, the Argentinian wizard attended The Best FIFA Football Awards 2016 to present the Best FIFA Menâs Coach award. âItâs like a dream for me,â said Maradona before the ceremony. âIâve been waiting for this moment for a long time and Iâm going to savour it.â Admitting to being âa little bit nervousâ about walking on to the stage, he added: âItâs strange because I never felt so tense before a final or a semi-final.â
The legendary No.10 enjoyed a very special moment before the ceremony as he was reunited with the FIFA World Cupâ¢ Trophy, which he had lifted into the air at Mexico 1986.
Three months after that awards night, Maradona took part in the draw for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017 and a match promoting the competition, which he also won, back in 1979, when he was voted the player of the tournament.
2017 also saw him take part in the 67th FIFA Congress in Manama (Bahrain) and open a shopping centre with a match in which he played alongside the likes of Ronaldinho, Carli Lloyd and Nia Kuenze.
He then appeared at the final of the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 in St Petersburg, before starring once again at The Best FIFA Football Awards in London that October, where he presented the FIFA Best Menâs Player award to Cristiano Ronaldo.
Maradona was also involved in the preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russiaâ¢, taking part in the Final Draw. He was in the stands for the Opening Match, the Final and for some of Argentinaâs matches.
That same year, El Pibe del Oro ('Golden Boy') shared his memories of Mexico 1986 with FIFA TV for the One to Eleven documentary.
In April 2020, the Argentinian wizard joined his fellow FIFA Legends for the #WeWillWin campaign in support of the health and key workers fighting on the front line against Covid-19.
Then, in June, having been moved by the events that led to the start of the #StopRacism #StopViolence campaign, Maradona gave his full support.26/11/2020 01:37 PM
FIFA President confirms 22 national teams will participate in FIFA Arab Cup 2021 in Qatar
FIFA President Gianni Infantino has confirmed that 22 national teams from the Arab region have signed up to participate in the FIFA Arab Cup, which will be staged from 1 to 18 December 2021. Speaking during a visit to Lusail Stadium, which will host the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022â¢ Final, the FIFA President stated that he expected the regional tournament in 2021 to unite millions of football fans from across the Middle East and Arab world.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: âWe are delighted that all 22 teams from across the Arab world have agreed to take part in the FIFA Arab Cup 2021, which will be held in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 stadiums, and we are looking forward to seeing the regionâs best teams battle it out to see which nation will become champion. Through football, this tournament will unite over 450 million people from across the region, and we are confident that the FIFA Arab Cup will help to build excitement across the region as we edge ever nearer to hosting the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East and Arab world in 2022.â
QFA President, H.E. Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmed Al Thani, said: âQatar looks forward to welcoming 22 Arab national teams and their fans, and giving them the opportunity to be one of the select teams that will experience what Qatar has prepared to host the FIFA World Cup.â
His Excellency added: âThe tournament will give our national team the chance to enhance their preparations ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, by going up against some of the best teams in the region.â
âFans from across the region will be treated to the same world-class experience that awaits fans from around the world when they flock to Qatar for the FIFA World Cup in 2022. We welcome our friends from the Middle East and the Arab world to join us in what will be an important milestone and a final test of our preparations, only one year away from us hosting the first FIFA World Cup in the region,â added the QFA President.
The 22 participating teams are: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
The 16 teams that take part in the final stage will be split into four groups, with the top two from each qualifying for the quarter-finals. A total of 32 matches will be held over 18 days.
The tournament will be delivered by FIFA, the Qatar Football Association, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy and the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC. Seen as a vital opportunity to test operations and facilities ahead of Qatar 2022, the tournament will take place in the same timeslot as the FIFA World Cup. The finals of both the FIFA Arab Cup and FIFA World Cup will take place exactly one year apart â each on 18 December, Qatar National Day, which is a public holiday.24/11/2020 06:15 PM
Etoâo: Qatar 2022 will be a special experience for football fans
Samuel Etoâo believes the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022â¢ will offer many unique and memorable experiences for fans when the next edition of footballâs showpiece event heads to the Middle East and Arab world in two yearsâ time.
In an interview with qatar2022.qa, the former Cameroon international â who serves as a Global Ambassador for the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) â highlighted some of his favourite places to visit in the country.
"I enjoy visiting lots of different places when Iâm in Qatar,â said Etoâo, a four-time African Player of the Year. "Sometimes, I like to go to the Villaggio Mall and on other occasions I enjoy visiting the Katara Cultural Village, which has many shops and restaurants. I also love Banana Island, which is a brilliant holiday destination if you want to get away from it all.
"Iâm sure fans will find many interesting places to visit when they arrive in this magnificent country in 2022.â
Etoâoâs initial experiences of Qatar were shaped during a brief playing spell with Qatar Sports Club during the 2018/19 season. He believes fans will be amazed by the friendliness of the people and the safety of the country. Qatar is consistently ranked as one of the safest countries in the world.
âI like the people in Qatar, they are open and sincere,â said Etoâo. âI also like the fact you always feel safe and secure in Doha and throughout the country.
âThese things should offer football fans a level of reassurance when they come to Qatar for the World Cup. I believe they will be able to have a great time visiting the country and watching the best players in action during the tournament.â
Having appeared in four World Cups for Cameroon, Etoâo is aware of the logistical challenges that players have faced in previous tournaments. With Qatar 2022 set to be one of the most compact World Cups ever staged, it will not just be the fans that will benefit. Players will never be more than about an hour from any of the eight stadiums and will have the luxury of staying in the same place throughout the tournament.
âThe players will not be so tired because they wonât have to travel to games by plane,â Etoâo said. âThey will be based in the same city and have the optimum time to train and prepare. That will be good because they will be fresher when they take to the pitch and compete.
âThe players will have the chance to use the best facilities in the world, whether it is the spectacular new stadiums that will host matches or the world-class training facilities. One thing is for sure, what the players will experience in Qatar will be a reward for their efforts in qualifying for this World Cup.â
Etoâoâs time in the Qatar Stars League also allowed him to assess the quality of the players that will represent the host nation in 2022. Qatar will head into the tournament as the champions of Asia â and Etoâo believes the Maroons have the quality to shine on a global stage.
âI expect them to be competitive because they have built a winning mentality by becoming Asian champions,â he said. âWhat is important now for Qatar is that they take advantage of every opportunity to play the best national teams in the world and learn from those experiences. They have some good players, including Akram Afif, who I rate highly. I wish them all the best.â23/11/2020 04:10 AM
Milestones continue to be reached at Qatar 2022 stadium sites
To mark the two-year countdown to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022â¢, check out the progress we are making at each of our eight stadium sites.
Three stadiums â Khalifa International, Al Janoub and Education City â have all been inaugurated and are fully operational, with the remaining five at various stages of construction.
All eight stadiums will be completed well in advance of the tournament, which will kick off on 21 November 2022.
Al Bayt Stadium
Designer: Dar Al-Handasah
Distance from Doha city centre: 43km (27 miles)
A remarkable sight will welcome fans to Al Bayt Stadium, which is being delivered by Aspire Zone Foundation. Designed to represent Arab hospitality, the venue will host nine matches through to the semi-finals stage of Qatar 2022 and is covered by a structure resembling a traditional Arab tent known as 'bayt al sha'ar', complete with a state-of-the-art retractable roof.
The stadium structure has been completed and is ready to host matches. This includes the laying of the stadium pitch in world record time. It is the second Qatar 2022 tournament venue to achieve a five-star rating from the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS). The surrounding Al Bayt Park is also open to the public.
Al Janoub Stadium
Design inspired by: Dame Zaha Hadid
Distance from Doha city centre: 23km (14 miles)
Located in Al Wakrah with a design inspired by the late British-Iraqi architect Dame Zaha Hadid, the futuristic Al Janoub Stadium will host seven matches up to the round of 16 stage during Qatar 2022. The design is inspired by the sails of traditional dhow boats â in tribute to Al Wakrah's seafaring past. An innovative cooling system and retractable roof mean the stadium can be used all year round.
The stadium was inaugurated on 16 May 2019 ahead of that yearâs Amir Cup final. More recently, Al Janoub played host to matches in the West Zone of the 2020 AFC Champions League and is also a venue for the East Zone portion of the competition. The stadium has also been chosen by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) as the venue for the 2020 AFC Champions League final on 19 December.
Al Rayyan Stadium
Distance from Doha city centre: 22km (14 miles)
Al Rayyan Stadium will showcase the very best of Qatari culture when it hosts seven matches up to the round of 16 stage during Qatar 2022. The outer faÃ§ade will be made up of intricate patterns representing Qatar, from its history of trade to its varied wildlife. Al Rayyan's desert landscapes will be reflected on the faÃ§ade â and in the dune-shaped hospitality areas and merchandise stalls dotted around the stadium complex.
Recent infrastructure completions include the stadium faÃ§ade, seating installation and the playing surface. The stadium is set to be inaugurated in the near future.
Al Thumama Stadium
Designer: Arab Engineering Bureau
Distance from Doha city centre: 13km (8 miles)
The design of Al Thumama Stadium is inspired by the 'gahfiya', a traditional woven cap worn for centuries by men across the Arab world. It is the first FIFA World Cupâ¢ venue to be designed by a Qatari architect â Ibrahim M. Jaidah. The stadium will host eight matches up to the quarter-finals stage during Qatar 2022.
Roof and faÃ§ade works have been completed, as has the stadiumâs bleacher installation. Seat installation, along with mechanical, electrical and plumbing works, plus finishing, are ongoing.
Education City Stadium
Designer: FIA Fenwick Iribarren Architects
Distance from Doha city centre: 12km (7 miles)
Education City Stadium is located at the heart of Qatar Foundation â a vibrant centre for knowledge and innovation where this ultramodern arena will be a fitting addition and lasting symbol of sustainability. The stadium will host eight matches up to the quarter-finals stage during Qatar 2022 and eventually become the home of the Qatar women's national team.
The stadium became the first Qatar 2022 tournament venue to receive a five-star GSAS sustainability rating ahead of its inauguration in June 2020. More recently, Education City played host to matches in the West Zone of the 2020 AFC Champions League and is also a venue for the East Zone portion of the competition.
Khalifa International Stadium
Distance from Doha city centre: 13km (8 miles)
On 19 May 2017, Khalifa International Stadium became the first FIFA World Cup 2022â¢ stadium to open when it hosted the Amir Cup final in front of more than 40,000 fans. Located in Aspire Zone, the historic venue has previously hosted the Asian Games and the AFC Asian Cup. The stadium is set to host eight matches up to the third-place play-off during Qatar 2022.
Recent events to have taken place at Khalifa International include the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships, the 24th Arabian Gulf Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019â¢. This year, the stadium played host to matches in the West Zone of the 2020 AFC Champions League and is also a venue for the East Zone portion of the competition.
Designer: Foster + Partners
Distance from Doha city centre: 16km (10 miles)
The 80,000-seat Lusail Stadium will embody Qatar's ambition and its passion for sharing Arab culture with the world. The design of this magnificent stadium is inspired by the interplay of light and shadow that characterises the fanar lantern. The venue will also become the centrepiece of Lusail â a newly built, state-of-the-art metropolis, designed specifically with residentsâ needs in mind. The stadium will host ten matches up to and including the final of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022â¢.
The stadiumâs concrete works and bowl steel installation have been completed, while the roof big lift has commenced. The installation of the stadiumâs steel structure and faÃ§ade are ongoing, as are the mechanical, engineering, plumbing and finishing works.
Ras Abu Aboud Stadium
Designer: FIA Fenwick Iribarren Architects
Distance from Doha city centre: 10km (6 miles)
Ras Abu Aboud Stadium will be the first fully demountable and re-usable tournament venue in FIFA World Cupâ¢ history. Designed by Fenwick Iribarren Architects, this 40,000-capacity stadium will be built using shipping containers and other modular materials. Overlooking the stunning Doha Corniche and West Bay skyline, the stadium will host seven matches up to the round of 16 stage during Qatar 2022.
The stadium will be built using 998 modular containers, with the delivery and installation of all remaining containers now completed. This includes special containers for the completed Kahramaa Primary Substation. All remaining structural steel members, including tension rods, have also been delivered and installed. Installation of all seats in the stadiumâs bowl has also been completed.22/11/2020 06:00 AM
Classic curtain-raisers remembered as Qatar 2022 countdown continues
We know the date but not yet the teams who will be taking part: the Opening Match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022â¢ takes place on 21 November 2022, two years from today.
A lot will happen before then, starting with the UEFA preliminary draw on 7 December, but before it does we are going to whet your appetite with a look back at some of the most unforgettable World Cup opening matches of all time.
The first two: Uruguay 1930
13 July 1930, Montevideo: France 4-1 Mexico and USA 3-0 Belgium
There was not one opening match at the inaugural World Cup but two. Snow was falling as the tournament kicked off on 13 July 1930, with France and USA respectively beating Mexico and Belgium. One name stood out on this landmark day, that of Lucien Laurent, the scorer of the first ever goal in World Cup history.
The trendsetter: England 1966
11 July 1966, London: England 0-0 Uruguay
Prior to 1966, the World Cup nearly always began with several matches played at the same time. By way of example, Italy 1934 got under way with no fewer than eight knockout games kicking off simultaneously. And even when Switzerland and Germany started proceedings at France 1938 with a 1-1 draw after extra time (the Swiss won 4-2 in a replay five days later), it was not billed as an opening match. England and Uruguay had the honour of contesting the first such game in 1966 and set an unfortunate trend in the process, with the World Cupâs next three opening matches (Mexico v USSR in 1970, Brazil v Yugoslavia in 1974, and Poland v West Germany in 1978) also ending in goalless draws.
The damp squib: Germany 1974
13 June 1974, Frankfurt: Brazil 0-0 Yugoslavia
Though it was unseasonably cold, wet and windy when the tenth World Cup began in Frankfurt, this meeting between the defending world champions and a technically gifted side with a reputation for being âthe Brazilians of Europeâ promised to atone for the miserable weather. Sadly, it failed to deliver and petered out into a tame 0-0 draw.
The surprise: Spain 1982
13 June 1982, Barcelona: Argentina 0-1 Belgium
After four consecutive goalless stalemates, all the indications were that the goal curse of the Opening Match would continue when Argentina met Belgium in 1982. Belgium forward Erwin Vandenbergh had other ideas, however, bringing an end to a 422-minute goal drought in the World Cup curtain-raiser and giving the Red Devils an unexpected win over the reigning world champions, led by one Diego Maradona.
The shock: Italy 1990
8 June 1990, Milan, Argentina 0-1 Cameroon
For the second time in their history, Argentina began a World Cup defence with a stumble, this time against Cameroon, who had two men sent off. A star-studded Albiceleste line-up, once again spearheaded by Maradona, fell to a solitary Francois Omam-Biyik goal, as the Indomitable Lions recorded one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history.
The upset: Korea/Japan 2002
31 May 2002, Seoul: France 0-1 Senegal
The question many were asking was not if defending champions France would win against unfancied Senegal but how many they would win by. Like Cameroon 12 years before them, the Senegalese were making their debut in the competition. Though this meeting between a team packed with stars from Europeâs top clubs and a group of relative unknowns seemed a foregone conclusion, it ended with another stunning African success, as Papa Bouba Diop scored to give the new boys a famous 1-0 win.
The goal feast: Germany 2006
9 June 2006, Munich: Germany 4-2 Costa Rica
For the first time since 1970, the host nation got the ball rolling. The sun shone and 66,000 fans roared their approval as Germany and Costa Rica served up a festival of attacking football. Philipp Lahm opened the scoring with a superb drive into the top corner. Paulo Wanchope equalised for Los Ticos before Miroslav Klose, who would become the World Cupâs leading all-time scorer eight years later, struck twice to put Germany in control. Wanchope pulled one back to complete a brace of his own, with Torsten Frings sealing a 4-2 win for the hosts and two World Cup records: Germanyâs fourth victory in an opening match and the most goals ever in an opening match.
The one with the vuvuzelas: South Africa 2010
11 June 2010, Johannesburg: South Africa 1-1 Mexico
âWeâre not contemplating the possibility of a draw,â Siphiwe Tshabalala told FIFA.com on the eve of the match. âWe want to win this game and nothing can stop us.â The South Africa midfielder must have thought his words had come true when he struck a magnificent opener for Bafana Bafana on 55 minutes. Amid the blaring vuvuzelas, however, Mexico conjured up an equaliser 11 minutes from time, capping an unforgettable evening.
The one with the scoring subs: Russia 2018
14 June 2018, Moscow: Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia
Though Brazil beat Mexico 5-0 on the first day of action at Switzerland 1954, it was not, strictly speaking, an opening match, as Yugoslavia were beating France 1-0 at the same time. That means that the biggest victory ever recorded in a World Cup Opening Match came in the most recent one of all, when Russia overpowered Saudi Arabia, thanks in no small part to their substitutes. Prior to Denis Cheryshev and Artem Dzyuba, who scored three of their sideâs five goals between them, no players had ever come off the bench to score in a world finals opener.21/11/2020 05:35 PM
Tshabalala: My 2010 goal will be special forever
Earlier this year, Siphiwe Tshabalala wrote and released a childrenâs book.
âItâs about a young boy from the dusty streets of Soweto who has a dream of playing football on the biggest stage, and who loves the game with all his heart,â he told FIFA.com.
âThe boy goes for trials, but heâs short and other players laugh at him and bully him because of his height. He focuses on his dream though, and when he gets a chance he surprises everyone with his talent and skill. Eventually, he makes the team for this massive tournament. When the day of the tournament comes, the team are relying on him and he steps up to score the biggest goal in the world. And thatâs how he becomes âSuper Shabbaâ!â
It is, says Tshabalala, âan authentic African superhero storyâ. And no-one is better placed to vouch for its authenticity than the man who lived that fairy tale, and has been revered in his homeland ever since.
The Bafana Bafana icon is also perfectly placed to look ahead to the Opening Match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022â¢, which takes place two years today. After all, if any Qatari player wants to know about the life-changing impact of lighting the touch paper on a historic World Cup â the first hosted by a proud football region â Tshabalala can offer a few words of advice.
âThat was always going to be the biggest goal in my career, no matter what came after, because it touched so many lives and brought joy to so many people,â he said. âIâll always love it â itâs beautiful â but the goal is bigger than me as an individual.
âAlthough it happened ten years ago, it still feels like yesterday because I get reminders and messages from people about it every single day. Itâs very humbling. That goal was special at the time, itâs special today and, for me and a lot of other people, it will be special forever.â
Had the ball been scrambled in, or found the Soccer City net via his backside, the goal might still have defined Tshabalalaâs career. But it was, of course, a thing of real beauty â carefully constructed and finished with one of the most purely struck shots of that, or any, World Cup.
âI actually thought at first about lobbing or chipping it because the keeper was off his line,â Tshabalala admitted. âThankfully I thought twice and decided for power instead. And as I was about to hit it, the ball took a very slight bounce off the ground. That helped, I think, and the connection was so good that as soon as the ball left my foot I knew it was going in.â
The touchline dance that followed became almost as famous as the goal itself, and reflected the wingerâs joy at realising a long-held dream.
âWhen they announced the World Cup was coming to South Africa [in 2004], I was nowhere as a footballer. But I remember telling my friend, âIâll be there in 2010, playing for Bafana Bafanaâ. It shows the power of positive thinking.
"It was the same as the game got closer â I envisaged having a good game and scoring a goal. The celebration showed that actually because it was rehearsed. We knew we were going to score!â
Now 36, Tshabalala recently returned to South Africa from a spell in Turkey to sign for the ambitious Durban outfit AmaZulu FC. âIâm very, very excited to start this new chapter,â he told us. âItâs a club with huge potential to become a force to be reckoned with in this country.â
The 90-times-capped Bafana Bafana star has also been devoting an increasing amount of time to his foundation, which has shifted during the pandemic from a focus on sport to providing the needy with day-to-day essentials.
âFortunately, Iâve been able to do quite a lot there,â he explained. âI was given a permit by the government to go about freely during the lockdown period, and weâve been able to provide blankets, soap powder and other basics that were especially important in winter to people in need. Itâs work thatâs very important to me.
âI always say to people that, whoever I played for and whatever trophies I won, my biggest legacy will be touching lives. That goal in 2010 touched so many lives and so does the work I do with my foundation now. If I can be remembered for both of those things, I will be very, very happy.â21/11/2020 03:26 PM
Al Haydos: Qatar have lofty ambitions for 2022
In two yearsâ time, the eyes of the world will be on Qatar for the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022â¢.
When: 21 November 2022
Where: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
What: The opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022â¢
At 12:55 local time, the ceremony will start and the Qatari players and their first group opponents will walk out to a capacity crowd of 60,000 at Al Bayt Stadium. The announcer at the venue, which was designed to resemble a traditional Arab tent, will invite all attendees to kindly stand for the national anthem of the State of Qatar.
In one voice, Qatari fans and players will chant their national anthem, which will echo around the stadium and reverberate across the country. The cameras will zoom in on some of the stars of Al-Annabi (The Maroons), such as Hasan Al Haydos, Saad Al Sheeb, Akram Afif and Almoez Ali, in a moment that will live long in the memory of all Qataris.
From the outside looking in, this is the scene we hope to see in 2022, but how does team captain Hasan Al Haydos, picture this moment, and how does he think he and his team-mates will be feeling? FIFA.com talked exclusively with the Al Sadd star, who is expected to wear the skipperâs armband at the finals, about how he anticipates what will be a truly historic occasion for Qatar.
FIFA.com: Today weâre exactly two years away from kick-off. How do you envisage 21 November 2022?
Hasan Al Haydos: It could be very similar to what you described, but I probably experience some of that every time I pull on the Annabi jersey. I think all my team-mates and I are looking forward to the day when we play the opening match. I hope that weâll be ready when 21 November 2022 comes around. I imagine that weâll meet in the morning with everyone smiling, and everyone asking one question: "Were you able to sleep?"
However, I donât think sleep [or lack of] will be a problem. Weâll have huge amounts of positive energy and all the players will be eager to go to the stadium and write a new chapter in the glorious history of the State of Qatar.
How do you imagine the scene on your way to Al Bayt stadium?
If I close my eyes now, I can picture the streets full of fans streaming into Al Khor, where Al Bayt stadium is located, from all quarters. I see Qatari flags decorating cars and buildings, and being waved by the fans. Inside the stadium, I expect the stands to be at capacity, and the closer we get to kick-off, the more the tension will rise. However, that's normal, as itâs the day we've been waiting for since Qatar was awarded the hosting of the finals back in 2010.
How about when you arrive at the stadium, do your warm-up and then come together for kick-off?
To be honest, weâve experienced these details in many big games, but this time itâll certainly be different. I canât imagine how Iâll be feeling at that time, but with each passing moment, anticipation will increase. I expect the warm-up will enhance our motivation, as weâll see the fans and hear them cheering for us. However, I expect the final minutes before kick-off to be the best. Like when we go hand in hand towards the pitch at Al Bayt Stadium and when the national anthem begins to play, and I hear the words echo around the whole stadium. The players will, as always, be united while singing the anthem, which has always motivated us to win. I hope to experience a great atmosphere on this day.
What are Al-Annabiâs ambitions for Qatar 2022?
We have lofty ambitions that go beyond a mere honorary appearance. We want to show the skills and the abilities of Qatari players. We want to get results that help us progress to the knockout stage, even though we know that wonât be easy. Some previous editions of the World Cup saw big teams exit from the group stage (Argentina and France in 2002, Portugal in 2014, and Germany in 2018), so weâll do all we can to avoid an early elimination.
How would you sum up the teamâs development in recent years?
Qatari football began to follow a well-thought-out process 17 years ago. Objectives were set, the Aspire Academy was opened, and the search for talent began. In 2014, Qatar won the AFC U-19 Cup and qualified for the FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015. The top players of that generation subsequently became part of the senior national team. Thanks to successive camps and matches, we developed a team capable of competing and winning titles.
After our exit from the group stage at the 2015 Asian Cup, we built a new side. We improved a lot over the following four years and, as everyone saw, we were the best team at the 2019 edition and deservedly won the title.
Talking about the 2019 Asian Cup, what was the key to winning the title?
It was a tournament of contradictions for us. This was perhaps the one and only time we played without support from our fans in the stands. We were aware of that tremendous responsibility and how much the Qatari people and everyone else here were supporting us. We realised this because of social media and the phone calls we were getting from our families, which conveyed the atmosphere to us. After each win during the knockout phase, weâd return to the hotel and follow the celebrations in Qatar. We realised the importance of what we were doing.
The team had a fantastic campaign, scored the most goals at the tournament and only conceded once. How did you attain these records?
We pledged to do our utmost in every game. We gave our all and didnât spare any effort. I donât think we could have been more focused. We approached every game and every opponent professionally. We knew what we needed from each game and managed to attain even more than weâd set to achieve before the tournament. We had the best attack and defence, and dominated the individual awards, such as best player and best goalkeeper.
Looking back on those games, I think we were on the attack the whole time against Korea DPR (6-0) and were clinical against Saudi Arabia (2-0). We eked out wins against Iraq and Korea Republic (both 1-0) but dominated the semi-final against the UAE, scoring four goals. In the decider against Japan, we took the game to them early on and scored two goals. Given that it was the final, we then defended our lead in the second half before we managed to score our third.
Do you think the 2019 Asian Cup will be the benchmark for the players and coaching staff?
It certainly showed our ability to deal with different situations: how to attack, when to defend, how to exploit an opponent's weaknesses, when to retain the ball as much as possible before going forward, when to resort to shooting from distance, and when to penetrate through the middle. Let me thank all the players for their commitment to the technical and tactical instructions of our coaches, and Iâd like to salute them for producing their skills. We had what it took and were invincible there, thank God. The efforts of the technical staff paid off in this tournament, as we won the title and impressed the whole continent with what we did.
At the World Cup youâll be playing against different teams from various continents. How do you assess that challenge?
Thatâs true, which is why we have a long preparation programme in which weâll plan for various scenarios. For example, at the 2019 Copa America we played against three strong teams (Argentina, Paraguay and Colombia), having already played a pre-tournament friendly with Brazil. This year we went up against Ghana and Costa Rica, while we continue to compete in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers. Weâll take part in the Copa America again in 2021 as well as the Concacaf Gold Cup, before competing in the Arab Cup at the end of the year.
All these tournaments and games will help us gain new experiences and give us more opportunities to get used to playing against big teams in different circumstances. Theyâll give our young players the best opportunity to get ready for the finals. In 2022, I think weâll also have time to play more matches before the World Cup.
What is your message to all the players, national teams, and the fans expected to come to Qatar?
I just want to say, âWelcome to Qatarâ. Youâll have a fantastic personal experience, and youâll enjoy the best finals ever. Qatar will have the best footballing environment.
To the players and teams: we guarantee youâll take part in the best tournament. Hotels, training grounds and stadiums are very close to each other, which will help you conserve energy. This should encourage you to perform at your very best. Many world stars have been to Doha already and experienced the atmosphere here. Some of them enjoyed smaller-scale events here, such as the FIFA Club World Cup in 2019, and in less than three months, others will get to experience this when the latest edition takes place next February.
To the fans: our stadiums will provide you with the best experience to watch football matches, and youâll have the rare opportunity of being able to attend two games on the same day. Iâm also sure that youâll enjoy the unique diversity of Qatar; the sea, the desert, as well as both old and modern markets. All these will be connected by the best network of roads and trains. In short, Qatar is ready to amaze you.21/11/2020 02:03 PM
Two years to go: FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022â¢ countdown draws closer
Saturday, 21 November, marks exactly two years until the next and groundbreaking edition of the FIFA World Cupâ¢. The compact nature, modern landscape and fascinating culture offered by the first edition of the event to be held in the Middle East and Arab world will guarantee a unique experience in 2022. Among the many distinctive features, travelling fans will have the opportunity to potentially attend more than one match a day during the group stage, which will feature an exciting schedule with four daily fixtures, as announced earlier this year.
Infrastructure planned for the event has reached 90% completion, with the three stadiums that have already been finalised â Khalifa International, Al Janoub and Education City â safely hosting more than 100 matches in 2020 in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. Three more tournament venues are in the final stages of construction: Al Rayyan, Al Bayt and Al Thumama. The main works at the remaining two stadiums â Ras Abu Aboud and Lusail â are set to be completed in 2021.
Countrywide infrastructure is also being delivered at a rapid pace, including the state-of-the-art Doha Metro â which was successfully utilised by fans during the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019â¢ â new roads and the expansion of Hamad International Airport, which is planned to cater for more than 50 million visitors a year by 2022.
â2020 has surely been a challenging year for the entire world, and football was no exception. Despite the difficulties, steady progress was made in the last few months, showing yet again Qatarâs strong and continued commitment â under the leadership of the Amir, whom I personally thank â to hosting an unforgettable FIFA World Cup in two yearsâ time, which will no doubt build a legacy long beyond 2022,â said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
âBesides the very important labour reforms recently announced by the government, progress has also been made on stadium construction, along with the implementation of strict measures to protect workersâ health. During my short visit to Doha a few weeks ago, I witnessed first-hand how well preparations have advanced, and I am looking forward with confidence to Qatar 2022, for the transformative impact it is already having on the country and the region, for the unique experience it will provide fans from all over the world and, of course, for witnessing the best World Cup ever.â
HE Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, added: âWe are immensely proud of the progress we have made over the last ten years. Both tournament and national infrastructure projects are well advanced, with everything on track to be completed well ahead of the big kick-off. Our legacy projects, meanwhile, are already having an impact on peopleâs lives in areas such as workersâ rights, education and entrepreneurship.â
âThis is an incredibly important FIFA World Cup â for Qatar, the region and the world. Qatar 2022 will introduce billions of people to the Middle East and Arab world for the first time, and help to foster a greater understanding and break down stereotypes that people may have of our country and region. Weâre very excited to welcome the world in 2022.â
Qatar will host the most compact version of the FIFA World Cup in modern times. All the stadiums are in close proximity to one another and will be linked by an ultra-modern transport infrastructure, meaning short travel times for fans, players and media. Visitors will be able to stay in one location throughout the tournament and will not be required to take any internal flights. The longest distance between stadiums is 75km (Al Bayt to Al Janoub), while the shortest is just 5km (Education City to Al Rayyan).
In July, it was confirmed that the opening match would take place at the stunning Al Bayt Stadium, a 60,000 capacity venue designed to resemble a traditional tent used in the Arab world. The final will be staged at the 80,000-capacity Lusail Stadium on 18 December 2022 â Qatar National Day, which is a public holiday.20/11/2020 10:00 AM
Joy for Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela & rampant Ecuador
Scroll down for trivia, stats, quotes and more about each game.
Peru 0-2 Argentina
Nicolas Gonzalez and Lautaro Martinez earned Argentina a 2-0 win away to Peru that lifted them on to ten points from a possible 12 in Qatar 2022 qualifying.
Gonzalez made it two goals in as many internationals after 16 minutes, while Martinez collected a sumptuous Leandro Paredes through-ball, rounded the goalkeeper and slid the ball into the empty net soon afterwards.
Lionel Messi was at his mercurial best in the second half, but he couldnât get the goal his play deserved. Argentina, nonetheless, will be delighted with victory in a country in which they have struggled.
Lionel Messi: âWeâre very happy with the victory. We needed it after the other day. From the outset we played a great game. We created many, many chances and the goals came. Little by little we are getting strong as a group.â
Lautaro Martinez: âI think we played really good football and weâre really happy. Against Paraguay, individually, I didnât play a good game. Today I had to put that right.â
World Cup qualifying head-to-head record:
10 Argentina wins; 7 draws; 2 Peru wins
Uruguay 0-2 Brazil
Arthur and Richarlison got the goals as Brazil won 2-0 in Uruguay to make it 12 points from a possible 12 in Qatar 2022 qualifying. Uruguay remain on six points and are set to lose Edinson Cavani to suspension after he was sent off in the second half for a stamp on Richarlison.
Darwin Nunez smashed Edersonâs bar as La Celeste made a fast start, but A SeleÃ§Ã£o took command as the half wore on and got their reward after 34 minutes. Following fine work from Danilo and Gabriel Jesus, Arthur, only playing because Allan wasnât fully fit, found the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Titeâs troops were 2-0 up before the break, a superb Renan Lodi cross firmly headed into the bottom corner by Richarlison.
Gabriel Jesus tormented the opposition defence in the second half, but Brazil couldnât amplify their advantage. The frustrated Uruguayans, for their part, picked up a series of yellow cards and a red that could cost them dearly.
Thiago Silva: âWeâre delighted. We were without some key players â and our key player, Neymar â but we managed to put in a very good performance and win. Itâs always tough to beat Uruguay. Even though they were without Suarez, an outstanding striker, weâre very pleased to keep another clean sheet. I believe you need to be solid defensively to win titles.â
Richarlison on his goal: âThatâs not my position. My position is to attack the first post, but I happened to score a goal like that in training and I said to myself, âIf it worked in training, this is what Iâm going to do.ââ
Did you know?
World Cup qualifying head-to-head record:
5 Brazil wins; 5 draws; 1 Uruguay win
Paraguay 2-2 Bolivia
Bolivia eked out a 2-2 draw in Asuncion to get their first point in Qatar 2022 qualifying and wound Paraguayâs hopes. La Albirroja dominated the game but were unable to take their chances.
Angel Romero won and converted an 19th-minute penalty to put Paraguay ahead, and almost doubled the lead moments later. However, Bolivia scored twice shortly before half-time, through Marcelo Martins and Boris Cespedes, to go in ahead.
Paraguay threw everything at their visitors in the second half. After having one goal disallowed, Kaku equalised but they were unable to find a winner and will be disappointed, despite remaining unbeaten, to only be on six points after four rounds.
Oscar Romero: âWe had so much possession. We were better on the ball, but we werenât able to take our chances. We must maintain our concentration for 90 minutes.â
Eduardo Berizzo: âEasy opponents donât exist in these qualifiers. Letâs learn from what happened today. We have to be able to overcome these difficulties.â
Did you know?
World Cup qualifying head-to-head record:
Top scorers in South American qualifying for Qatar 2022
Ecuador 6-1 Colombia
Ecuador produced a blistering first-half performance en route to a 6-1 victory over Colombia that powered them on to nine points from the first four rounds. Their opponents, meanwhile, remained on four and are now nursing back-to-back defeats in which theyâve conceded nine goals.
Robert Arboleda, Angel Mena, Michael Estrada and Xavier Arreaga â aided by a series of defensive errors â had La Tri 4-0 up inside 40 minutes, and Cafeteros coach Carlos Queiroz reacted by making four substitutions before half-time. Colombia did pull one back before the break, Duvan Zapata winning a penalty which James Rodriguez stroked home off the inside of the post.
The 29-year-old Everton playmaker did his best to cut the deficit even further at the start of the second half, but Colombia continued making defensive errors, with Estrada failing to capitalise on one. The Toluca forward did have the ball in the net after 74 minutes, but it was ruled offside.
Gonzalo Plata made it 5-1 in fine style and though he collected a second yellow card for his goal celebration, it failed to stop Ecuador amplifying the victory through Pervis Estupinan. A magical international break for Gustavo Alfaroâs side was complete.
Gustavo Alfaro: âEcuador have so many players with great potential. I have a squad with sufficient pedigree to match any national team around.â
Michael Estrada: âWe knew that Colombia were dejected because of what happened in Uruguay. We capitalised with our fast-paced game and got the victory.â
Did you know?
World Cup qualifying head-to-head record:
Venezuela 2-1 Chile
Salomon Rondon headed home a late winner against Chile to get Venezuela their first points on the board in Qatar 2022 qualifying. La Vinotinto had the best of a first half that finished 1-1, but La Roja had been looking the more likely to grab victory when the 31-year-old turned in an excellent Yeferson Soteldo cross.
Darwin Machis was involved in everything in the early stages, and he helped set up the opener for Luis Mago. The in-form Arturo Vidal quickly equalised, but Chile will have been relieved to go in at the interval all square.
Reinaldo Rueda's charges were much better in the second half, with Alexis Sanchez producing some breath-taking touches, but ultimately were caught on the break and remain on four points from four outings.
Did you know?
World Cup qualifying head-to-head record:
11 Chile wins; 2 draws; 2 Venezuela wins
Leading all-time scorers in CONMEBOL qualifying
World Cup participations
South America's top international scorers
Social media17/11/2020 09:00 PM