The Arab Football Cup will be back in its new guise, starting November 30, after a nine-year absence, with sixteen teams from Qatar hosting six of the eight World Cup stadiums.
For the first time, the tournament will take place under the auspices of the International Federation (FIFA), in finals that will serve as a mini-trial for the World Cup, which the small gas-rich Gulf state will host at the end of 2022 for the first time in Middle East.
In the tenth edition that will end on December 18, similar to the World Cup, the teams have been divided in four groups, after some of the lowest teams in ranking participated in the qualifiers, with the champion and runner-up who qualified for the quarter-finals.
The matches will be held in the Al Bayt stadiums (official opening and final), Ahmed Bin Ali, Al Janoub, Al Thumama, Education City and 974.
While the participation of the teams varies between the front row and the Olympic players, Qatar intends to win the title on its soil for the first time in its history, to reconcile its fans after the recent disappointments in the European qualifiers for the World Cup, where participated as a visiting team.
The 2019 Asian champion, who has gained great experience participating in the Copa America and the CONCACAF Gold Cup, has returned in a group that includes Iraq, whose Dutch coach Dick Advocaat announced his resignation just days before the tournament after his chances of World Cup qualifiers have declined. The group also includes the Sultanate of Oman and Bahrain to bring the flavor of the Gulf.
The most important Arab stars are absent from the tournament, in particularly the Africans associated with them club Europeans, such as the Egyptian Mohamed Salah, the Algerian Riyad Mahrez, the Tunisian Wahbi Khazri or the Moroccan goalkeeper Yassin Bounou.
In the second round, Tunisia are looking for a second title after opening in 1963, facing two teams that suffer in the last round of World Cup qualifiers in Asia: United Arab Emirates and Syria, while Mauritania completes the group contract after the recent revival and reaching the African finals twice in a row.
The Moroccan team is competing in the third round with an alternative squad, similar to the last version that held the title, in absence of several stars, including striker Ayoub Al Kaabi, the best player in the African Nations Cup for local players 2018, who won the title in the style of 2020.
To Jordan and the Palestinian neighbor, the Saudi team will participate in this group, with a reserve absent from the French coach, Herve Renard, who has entrusted the task to compatriot Laurent Bonadi.
“I preferred to play a supervisory role on the players participating in the Arabian Cup to closely monitor them and see their professionalism, and in previously I did it with the Moroccan national team when they participated in the Africa Cup for the locals, “said Renard., who is constantly leading the” Green Falcons “towards the 2022 World Cup.
The fourth will see a clash between the Algerian Olimpico and Egypt led by his new Portuguese coach, Carlos Queiroz, who is competing in competitions without its professionals in Europe, similar to Salah, the Liverpool star, and Mohamed Elneny, the Arsenal player, and Lebanese and Sudanese teams complete the group.
Starting from Lebanon
The idea of organizing the Arab Cup and separating it from football competition in Arab sports tournaments was launched in Lebanon in 1957 by journalist Nassif Majdalani and Secretary General of the Football Association Izzat al-Turk.
The Lebanese Federation called a meeting in Beirut in September 1962, in the presence of representatives of local Arab federations, and decided to launch the Arab Cup for national teams, with the Lebanese capital hosting the first session the following year.
Many Arab federations accepted the idea until it was decided to launch it from Beirut, where the tournament was born between March 31 and April 7, 1963, with the participation of 5 teams, namely Tunisia, which won the title, Syria, Kuwait , Jordan and home to Lebanon.
In the midst of holding the championship on and off without regularity, Iraq dominated the title, crowning the years 1964, 1966, 1985 and 1988.
Egypt ended the “Lions of Mesopotamia” series by crowning it in 1992, before Saudi Arabia won the 1998 and 2002 titles, while Morocco joined the list of winners in the last edition of 2012 with a roster alternative.
The Arab Championships followed, but with no fixed dates until the Arab Federation for the Game decided that the tournament would take place in similar way to continental and international tournaments once every four years, or in the youth category to avoid excuses for participation.
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