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Team-by-team guide: 2022 Qatar World Cup preview

To prepare you for the tournament, The18 has launched team-by-team previews for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. This is the preview for the host nation, Qatar.

Qatar World Cup 2022 Preview

World Cup Appearances: First

Best Finish: N/A  

How They Got Here: Qualified as host nation  

Coach: Félix Sánchez (Spanish)

Strongest XI: (5-3-2) Saad Al Sheeb; Abdelkarim Hassan, Bassam Al Rawi, Boualem Khoukhi, Tarek Salman, Pedro Miguel; Abdulaziz Hatem, Karim Boudiaf, Ali Asad; Almoez Ali, Akram Afif  

Injuries: Abdullah Al-Ahrak (cruciate ligament) 

What’s To Like: The international team that stays together, advances to the last-16 together. Or at least that's been the Qatar Football Association's 12-year plan since being handed the World Cup back in 2010.

No squad will come close to matching Qatar's experience at the tournament. Abdelkarim Hassan, Karim Boudiaf and Hassan Al-Haydos each have well over 100 caps, and they'll be joined in the centurion club shortly by Boualem Khoukhi and Abdulaziz Hatem. It also helps that the entire squad is domestically based, with the vast majority either playing for Al-Sadd or Al-Duhail in the Qatar Stars League. 

This long period has seen the club rise from 113th in the FIFA ranking to as high as 42nd off the back of some eye-catching results, including a first-ever Asian Cup title in 2019 and a semifinal appearance as a guest nation at the Concacaf Gold Cup. 26-year-old striker Almoez Ali won the Golden Boot at both tournaments. 

What’s Not To Like: Well there's the 6,500 migrant worker deaths associated with this heinous $220 billion project to erect these soon-to-be derelict sporting temples from the desert sands. And then, on the pitch, there's the fact that while Qatar has recorded successes against AFC, CAF and Concacaf sides, the results are less promising against the might of UEFA and CONMEBOL.

Ecuador, after missing the 2018 event, isn't going to fear Qatar on opening day. Based on what we saw at the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup in Qatar, it doesn't look like "The Maroon" will have the same sort of fanatical support that drove previous underdog host nations like South Korea and South Africa. 

After that, Qatar looks particularly doomed against Senegal — Africa's best team with Sadio Mané, Kalidou Koulibaly and Édouard Mendy — and a rising Netherlands squad under the direction of Louis van Gaal. That match with the Oranje could get out of hand. 

X-Factor: Qatar has shown organization and an ability to defend resolutely in the buildup to the tournament, and experienced goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb figures to be a national hero while facing 15 shots each game.

Best Hair: Akram Afif 

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Most Likely To Fuck It All Up: There will be a lot of pressure on Almoez Ali to deliver up top, but he'll be starved for service in all three games and each miss will linger.

What Will Make This A Good World Cup: Every host nation throughout history has targeted the knockout rounds, but Qatar would probably settle for one win during the group stage.

Bonus Prediction: This is not going to go well.

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