- The FIFA Arab Cup takes place from 30 November to 18 December
- Its qualifying round runs from 19-25 June
- 14 teams vying for remaining seven places at tournament
While the first half of June has been dominated by FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ preliminaries, qualifying of a different kind will be the focus for a group of African and Asian nations from 19 June. The setting will be the Qatari capital Doha, where 14 sides will contest a single knockout fixture for the remaining seven berths at the FIFA Arab Cup 2021™.
The winners of each pairing will join hosts Qatar, Iraq, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Syria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Algeria in the tournament’s final phase from 30 November to 18 December.
- Where: Doha, Qatar
- When: From 19 to 25 June 2021
- At stake: A place at the FIFA Arab Cup for the winners of each head-to-head
- Who: The 14 lowest-ranked countries (of the 23 participating sides) on the April 2021 edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking
About the FIFA Arab Cup
This will be the first pan-Arab FIFA tournament, with the final set to be played on the same day the World Cup Final will unfold one year later: 18 December, Qatar’s National Day. The participating teams will also get to play at six World Cup venues.
What you need to know
- Libya–Sudan will get the qualifying round underway on 19 June at the Khalifa International Stadium. Of the seven matches on the programme, this looks the most evenly balanced, with just four places separating the sides on May’s FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.
- The following day sees the two teams farthest apart in the Ranking – Oman (80th) and Somalia (197th) – face off. The task looks all the harder for the east African side, with Oman in top form having just booked their place in the third and final round of AFC qualifying for Qatar 2022
- Founded only in 2011, the South Sudan national team have never before faced a team from outside CAF. Their 21 June showdown with Jordan, who last faced African opposition in 2017 (Libya), will therefore be a milestone.
- Lebanon–Djibouti and Libya–Sudan are the only matches in this qualifying round in which both teams are still in contention for a place at Qatar 2022.
The number of goals Comoros put past Djibouti (4-2) in a qualifying fixture for the 2009 Arab Cup of Nations. It remains the most goals scored by Les Coelacantes in an official match.
potentially the number of years between FIFA tournaments for Yemen goalkeeper Mohammad Ayash, who took part in the FIFA U-17 World Cup Finland 2003. However, to grace another one, he will need his team to overcome a resilient Mauritania side, who continue to surprise.
If he plays against Bahrain, Kuwait striker Bader Al Mutawa will overtake Egyptian Ahmed Hassan to become the most-capped men’s player of all time with 185 international appearances.
“I’m calm and convinced that, if we manage to qualify, we’re capable of winning some games in Qatar. The main thing is to beat Lebanon and take part in this competition. That would allow us to win a few games in Qatar. The main thing is to win against Lebanon and participate in this competition. That would provide something we lack a bit as a team: experience.”Madhi Mahabeh of Djibouti [FIFA.com]