Qatar National Football Team
By all accounts, the Qatar National Football team is one of the newer names in the grand history of international football. The sport wasn’t played in any official capacity in the country until 60 years later than some places in Europe had begun.
Although the team has never neared the top of the world rankings, the resources and dedication being poured into the sport in the country suggest that it may be only a few decades until Qatar competes with some of the best.
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Sunday November 20 – Qatar vs Ecuador (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor; kick-off 17:00 CEST).
Friday November 25 – Qatar vs Senegal (Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor; kick-off 2pm).
Tuesday November 29 – Netherlands vs Qatar (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor; kick-off 4pm).
Qatar National Football Begginings
Football was in full swing in many parts of the world by the time it started taking hold in Qatar. Expatriate oil workers are credited with being the game’s first proponents in the Arab land. This happened when Qatar first found out that they were an oil-rich nation in the 1940s, and in 1948, the country had its first official football match.
Setting up a System
It would still take some time for things to get going, and it wasn’t until 1960 that the Qatar Football Association was formed. Although this gave some structure to the domestic game, it would still be another ten years before the national organisation would join the international community through its admission to FIFA in 1970.
An Upcoming Region
Qatar’s ascent was part of the wave of interest in football in the Middle East at the time. Consequently, the first regional tournament was set up in 1970, and Qatar was an inaugural member. Their opening match, in which they lost 1-0 to Bahrain, was also the Qatar national team’s first ever official appearance.
The team ultimately performed poorly and finished the competition with just one point, earned from a 1-1 draw with Saudi Arabia.
Aiming for the World Stage
In 1977 Qatar participated in its first qualifying match for the World Cup, a 2-0 defeat to Bahrain. But there would still be some time to wait until the team finally achieved a qualification.
Campaigns consistently failed at the preliminary stages throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
However, at the same time, the team started achieving minor success in the Asian Cup, for which the team has now qualified multiple times and even won in 2019.
That 2019 victory was just a recent milestone on the positive journey that the Qatar national football team has been on since the mid-1990s. Regional tournament victories gradually started coming closer and closer to being reached, and, in 2004, the team got their hands on their most substantial trophy yet when they won the Gulf Cup. Two years later, they took home gold at the Asian Games.
The country’s relationship to the sport was radically altered when they were named the host of the 2022 World Cup in 2010. They will become the first Arab nation to host the tournament, and their automatic qualification as hosts means it’ll be their first time on the stage.
Qatar National Football is likely to struggle even on home soil, but there’s no doubt the sport is on its way up in the country.
Qatar National Football Team Trivia
- Qatar is gaining a reputation for using players born outside the country. In one match against Algeria in 2015, over half of the starting line-up was born abroad. This has garnered attention and criticism from both FIFA and rival teams.
- Qatar’s main rivalry is with Bahrain, which owes as much to the two countries historical tension as any sporting hostility.