Since 1930 and the first edition of the World Cup, all host countries except South Africa in 2010 have managed to exit the group stage. Four years ago, many doubts surrounded Russia, which experienced a low generation, but Sbornaya resisted the odds by reaching the quarter-finals and offered themselves in the skin of Spain. For this 2022 edition, Qatar is moving forward with less certainty and doubt is growing. Historically, Qatar has never qualified for the World Cup and its place on the Asian chessboard is always far from leaders such as Australia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Iran or Japan. . However, the good training work done in the country since the beginning of the 21st century – with the launch of Aspire Academy on November 16, 2004 – has paid off.
Back almost four years ago, in February 2019 during the Asian Cup. Eight players from this development program for young Qatari athletes are part of the selection, Youssef Hassan, Tarek Salman, Tameem Al-Muhaza, Assim Madibo, Salem Al-Hajri, Abdelranman Moustafa, Akram Afif and Ali Almoez. This worker coached by Félix Sánchez Bas (46 years old) since 2017, but where the latter has accompanied the youth selections from U19 to U23 since 2013 while having a major role in Aspire between 2006 and 2013 was actually a long build. Qatar has bet to create a team with strong principles of play (having a style inspired by FC Barcelona where Félix Sánchez Bas was in charge between 1996 and 2006), true unity and development that requires time In addition, Akram Afif and Ali Almoez became the stars of the team that they led to the Asian Cup crown with 9 goals for Almoez Ali and 10 assists for Akram Afif.
In the last four of the Gold Cup and the Arab Cup
A shock duo and a formation that has other tournaments to show for itself. With a team that is becoming more and more mature (26.8 years on average), Qatar is in the process of refining its spine. Exiting the group stage of a complex group during the Copa América 2019 by hanging Paraguay (2-2) then losing against Colombia and Mexico, Qatar is playing in the Gold Cup 2021 which is still fresh. A tournament that ended in the semi-finals after a narrow 1-0 loss against the United States. A relatively positive dynamic confirmed in November-December with third place in the Arab Cup in a competition that served as a one-year rehearsal for the World Cup. Until then, the lights were green, but the situation has since worsened for the Maroons.
Unofficially placed in Group A of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers in the Europe zone to play warm-up matches, Qatar started with victories against Luxembourg (1-0) and Azerbaijan (2-1) on the left yet to be hooked by Ireland (1- 1) and then experience somewhat worrying results. Crushed twice by Serbia (4-0 and 4-0) and Portugal (3-1 and 3-0) to travel to the 2022 World Cup, Qatar was also beaten by Ireland (4-0) and tied with Luxembourg (1-1) and Azerbaijan (2-2). If Qatar were officially part of this group, they would have finished fifth behind Serbia, Portugal, Ireland and Luxembourg, ahead of Azerbaijan. A worrying observation to which new results have been added.
… Since then, Qatar has been from Charybdis to Scylla
Apart from a narrow 2-1 victory in March against Bulgaria and another in August against the A’ team of Ghana (2-1), Qatar conceded draws against Slovenia (0-0) , a team that changed Lazio (0-0), Morocco A ‘ (2-2) and Jamaica (1-1) this year 2022. Worse, the September rally is currently a failure with correction against the U21 team Croatia (3-0 loss) and a loss against Canada (2-0). ). A bad dynamic that Qatar will try to break this Tuesday at 7 pm against Chile, now 55 days before the start of their competition against Ecuador (November 20). Performances that can also be explained by the poor form of his shock duo. Almoez Ali has remained 6 games without scoring and has 5 successes and 1 offer in the last 18 games. For his part, Akram Afif did a little better with 3 goals and 7 offers in the last 18 games, but he was only decisive in the last 6 meetings.
To shine, Qatar must succeed in putting their shock duo back in the best conditions and try to take inspiration from what is working. Last March, Félix Sánchez Bas made a positive statement in a press conference: “Since we won the Asian Cup three years ago, we have been working on developing the team through a comprehensive preparation plan and by participating in many continental tournaments. We participated in tournaments at the highest level in the Copa America and the Gold Cup, as well as in the European qualifiers which gave us a lot of experience, and the team took a lot more. The progress is amazing, the dynamics too. Less than two months from the World Cup on the ground, Qatar came out of his tongue after a big development. Expected next November 20 against Ecuador, Qatar must rise quickly and confirm that the work well done in recent years does not go up in smoke…