The long-awaited tournament is seen as a vital opportunity to test operations and facilities a year before Qatar hosts the 2022 World Cup.
The first of its kind FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021 will be held between November 30 and December 18, the global footballing body revealed.
Qatar hosted its FIFA Arab Cup 2021 draw at the Katara Opera House in Doha on Tuesday , bringing together 14 teams to go head to head at the qualifying round.
The draw placed Qatar at the top of Group A with Iraq, the winner between Oman and Somalia as well as the winner from a match between Bahrain and Kuwait.
🥁 #FIFArabCup 2021 Official Draw results are in!
👀 Which matches are you looking forward to?
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) April 27, 2021
The seven national squads will join the nine highest-ranked teams at the tournament: host nation Qatar, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Syria.
According to the rankings, the play-offs were decided as follows: Oman (FIFA World Ranking: 80) vs Somalia (197), Lebanon (93) vs Djibouti (183), Jordan (95) vs South Sudan (169), Bahrain (99) vs Kuwait (148), Mauritania (101) vs Yemen (145), Palestine (104) vs Comoros (131), and Libya (119) vs Sudan (123).
Qatar will kick off the tournament on November 30, facing the winner of the Bahrain-Kuwait match in the qualifiers at 1pm Doha time.
Meanwhile, Iraq will play in the same round with the winning team from the Oman and Somalia game.
In the second round, host Qatar will face the winner from Oman and Somalia on December 3 at 4pm Doha time, while Iraq will play with the winner from Bahrain and Kuwait.
Qatar’s national team will then meet its Iraqi counterpart at 10pm on December 6 and the winner of the Kuwait and Bahrain match will face off with the winner from Oman and Somalia in the same round.
Group B will see Tunisia meeting the winner from the Yemen and Mauritania match, and the UAE will meet Syria in the first round on November 30.
On December 3, Tunisia will face Syria and the UAE will go head to head with the winner of the Yemen and Mauritania match in the second round. Consequently, on December 6, Tunisia will face the UAE, and Syria will play with the winner of the Yemen and Mauritania game in the third round.
For group C, Morocco will play with the winner of the Palestine and Comoros match, while Saudi Arabia will face the winner of the Jordan and South Sudan game in the first round on December 1.
In the second round on December 4, Morocco will play against the winner from Jordan and South Sudan, and Saudi Arabia will kick off with the winner from Palestine and Comoros, FIFA announced.
In the third round on December 7, Morocco will play Saudi Arabia, and the winner from Jordan and South Sudan will face the winner from Palestine and Comoros.
Lastly, Group D will see Algeria playing the winner from Libya and Sudan, and Egypt will battle with the winner of the Lebanon and Djibouti match in the first round on December 1.
For the second round, Algeria will go head to head with the winner of the Lebanon and Djibouti, while Egypt will face off with either Libya or Sudan on December 4.
The third round on December 7 will see rivals Algeria and Egypt go head to head. Meanwhile, the winner from the Libya and Sudan match will face off with the winner from Lebanon and Djibouti game.
The draw in the Qatari capital on Tuesday was made by four footballing legends; Egypt’s Wael Gomaa, Saudi Arabia’s Nawaf Al Temyat, Sudan’s Haytham Mustafa and Iraq’s Younus Mahmood, as well as FIFA’s Director of Competitions, Manolo Zubiria.
“The 14 lowest-ranked teams according to the April edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola Men’s World Ranking will participate in single-leg play-offs ahead of the tournament, which will be held later this year,” FIFA said, noting 23 Arab nations will take part in the historic event.
The long-awaited tournament will be held at the end of 2021 and is seen as a vital opportunity to test operations and facilities a year before Qatar hosts the 2022 World Cup.
Matches will take place at six Qatar stadiums, most of which are complete, while others are in the final stages of construction.
The finals of the Arab Cup 2021 and the 2022 World Cup are set to take place on the same date, 18 December, but one year apart. This also comes in conjunction with Qatar’s National Day.
The 23 nations participating in the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 are Qatar (host nation), Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.