The Gulf country, which will be hosting the first ever World Cup in the Middle East, will see its national team go up against several European squads.
Qatar will play as a guest team in the European World Cup qualifying Group A as part of the 2022 World Cup preparations, the Union of European Football Associations [UEFA] said on Tuesday.
As hosts of the long-anticipated games in less than two years, Qatar instantly qualifies for the World Cup. However, the national team will be taking part in friendly games to get ready for the finals.
“We are delighted that Qatar will participate in UEFA qualifying matches for the next FIFA World Cup, which our country is proud to be hosting. Playing matches in Group A against high-quality teams provides our national team with an excellent foundation as we continue our journey of preparation ahead of 2022,” said Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani, president of Qatar Football Association.
Doha’s players have been placed as a ‘shadow’ team in Group A among five others in UEFA’s qualifiers. The team is scheduled to play friendlies against any of the teams that will have a free date on a given matchday.
Teams in Group A include Portugal, Serbia, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg and Ireland. While the matches are going to be hosted in Europe, the exact location of the venue has not been confirmed yet.
Since the Qatari team will be playing in friendly matches, the games will not count towards the qualification process.
Qatar is now counting down the days to host the long-anticipated World Cup with less than two years remaining on the clock.
Al-Khater said that the country is planning the “complete normal” games, in comments made amid reports of rapid progress in producing vaccines for the novel coronavirus.
“The introduction of the vaccine and the rollout of the vaccine, it’s definitely good news for everybody,” Al-Khater told the AP.
Doha anticipates some 1.5 million football fans to visit Qatar for the 2022 World Cup.