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Friday, January 28, 2022

How Qatar’s Al-Annabi battled its way to FIFA’s top 50 ranking teams


FIFA has released its 2021 edition of the Men’s World Ranking, placing Qatar among the top 50 teams for the first time in history.

Qatar’s national team has been ranked number 42 in the men’s ranking, becoming among the 50 best teams in the world and fifth in Asia, according to FIFA World Ranking 2021.

Al-Annabi jumped 16 spots, breaking a new record for the first time since FIFA’s first edition in 1993.

The Gold Cup guests managed to fend of all challenges imposed by the pandemic this football season, showcasing an impressive performance at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States earlier this year and reaching the semi-finals.

The team played five matches at the tournament, winning three, drawing one and losing one match to America who went on to win the title.

With 12 goals in total and securing the Golden Boot award, the Maroons clearly made noise at this year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.

In Group D, Qatar played against Honduras, Grenada, and Panama.

In the first game against Panama, Al-Annabi drew 3-3 before then thrashing Grenada 4-0 in the Group Stages of the tournament. 

Qatar later beat Honduras 2-0, propelling the team to the quarter finals. A 3-2 win against El Salvador in the quarter finals secured the semi-finals for Qatar.

However, after an impressive run in America, Qatar was stopped in its tracks at the semi-finals. The team was defeated 1-0 by host nation United States, ending a brilliant showcase at the 2021 Gold Cup.

Before leaving for the United States, the team also played friendly matches against Croatia B, Panama and El Salvador. Qatar defeated both Croatia B 3-1 at the Aldo Drosina Stadium in Pula and Salvador 1-0.

Read also: Golden Boot: Qatar’s Almoez Ali named 2021 Gold Cup top scorer

At the joint FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 qualifiers, Qatar sealed the top spot in Group E although the reigning AFC Asian Cup titleholders automatically qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2022 as the host nation.

However, securing a place in the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 required winning Group E.

Qatar’s national football team cemented its dominance over Group E of the Asian Qualifiers after securing a 1-0 victory against India.

Following the India victory, the national team scored 1-0 against Oman, leaving Qatar with 22 points. The Maroons were the third team to reach AFC 2023 after Syria and Japan. 

Earlier, Qatar pulled out of the 2021 Copa America tournament that took place last June and July due to a scheduling conflict which it said followed the Asian Football Confederation’s [AFC] decision to postpone the joint qualifying round for the 2022 World Cup and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

UEFA had previously invited the national team to prepare for the FIFA 2022 World Cup taking place in Qatar.

Now that the continental championship has ended, Qatar is back to the European qualifiers for 2022 in Group A, where it is set to face off with Portugal, Serbia and Luxembourg on September 1, 4 and 7.

The matches will be played in Europe to make it easier for teams there to participate in the tournament. 

The Gulf state will be hosting the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup which is scheduled to take place between 30 November and 18 December, as a prelude to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The country’s national team will qualify automatically to the World Cup finals for the first time in history.

Qatar’s victories

In December 2010, Qatar was announced the host nation of the 2022 World Cup to become the first Arab country to ever host the mega tournament.

Since then, the Gulf nation has revved up its footballing portfolio, pumping major investments into its national team that have been seen at major tournament.

In 2011, the Maroons reached the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup and were close to reaching the finals before Japan scored an 89th minute goal to break the 2-2 draw to claim the title.

The 8th WAFF Championship (West Asian Football Federation Championship) hosted in Qatar in 2013 was another victory claimed by the national team which won the tournament for the first time.

Just ten months later, the team won Gold at the 2014 Gulf Cup after defeating Saudi Arabia, who were playing on their ground in front of home fans.

Ahead of 2018 World Cup Russia, the Qatari national team reached the qualifying matches with a grand performance in the second round, securing seven wins and only losing once.

However, their success in the second round didn’t last long. The national team finished bottom of the group, but secured a place in the 2022 World Cup match on home soil to become the first team to do so since Italy in 1934.

In 2019, Qatar exceeded expectations after winning the 2019 AFC Asian Cup title, Al-Annabi defeated Japan in the final match to secure its first victory at the Asian tournament.

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