قطر / Qaṭar / Qatar
- Capital: Doha / الدوحة
- Official Languages: Arabic
- Common Languages: English
- Nicknames: العنابي (The Maroons)
- Association: Qatar Football Association (QFA) / الاتحاد القطري لكرة القدم
- FIFA Code: QAT
- Best World Cup Result (Men): Qualified (2022)
- Best World Cup Result (Women): Not Qualified
- Best Asian Cup Result (Men): WINNERS (2019)
- Best Asian Cup Result (Women): Not Qualified
- Best WAFF Championship Result (Men): WINNERS (2014)
- Best WAFF Championship Result (Women): Fourth Place (2014)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Men): 51st (August & October 1993)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Women): 111th (December 2013)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Men): 113th (November 2010)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Women): 139th (September 2015)
- Most Capped Player: Hassan Al-Haydos – 135 caps [as of March 2021]
- Top Scorer: Mubarak Mustafa – 41 goals
The State of Qatar (دولة قطر / Dawlat Qaṭar) is an Arab country located in the Middle East region of western Asia, occupying the small Qatar peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian peninsula. It only has one land border with another country, the much larger Saudi Arabia to its south. Football arrived in Qatar after the Second World War with the sport being brought in by the employees of the oil companies which arrived into the small state, with the Qatari FA being founded in 1960, before eventually joining FIFA in 1972 and the AFC in 1974. Their first international game came in 1970 when they faced fellow Gulf neighbour Bahrain, in a 2-1 loss away from home.
The Maroons have been near ever-present qualifiers for the AFC Asian Cup qualifying for all but one tournament (the 1996 one) since 1980. Throughout that time, the Qataris had only fleeting moments of success throughout that period, reaching the quarter finals of the tournament in both 2000 and 2011 (a tournament they hosted). It wouldn’t be until the 2019 Asian Cup when the fortunes of the Maroons suddenly improved, as they shocked the footballing world. Winning all three of their group games, which included a 2-0 win over neighbours Saudi Arabia, they subsequently knocked out Iraq, South Korea and the hosts UAE to reach the final against Japan. Despite being the strong underdogs against an impressive Japan side, they overcame the odds to beat the Samurai Blue 3-1 to win their first major international title. One of the greatest stories in a tournament which is no stranger to amazing stories!
As you’re possibly aware, Qatar is all scheduled to host the 2022 World Cup, becoming the first Arab country to host football’s biggest tournament. It will also be their very first appearance in the World Cup having never qualified for it previously. In preparation for hosting the World Cup, they are scheduled to host the first FIFA Arab Cup in December 2021 (a tournament open to all Arab nations in Asia and Africa), as well as playing friendlies against teams drawn in Group A of UEFA’s World Cup qualifying. They are planning on competing in the CONCACAF Gold Cup as a guest nation in July-August of this year, and were also going to compete in their second Copa América during the summer, although it was later confirmed that Qatar’s participation had been withdrawn due to a change to the schedule for the World Cup/Asian Cup qualifiers, which Qatar are playing in and hoping to qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup in China.
To talk about the current Asian champions, and a nation who will be playing in a multitude of competitions and friendlies before hosting the World Cup in 2022, their debut appearance in the premier international competition, we interviewed the Twitter account Afakhroo. They are a Qatari-based supporter of the national team, as well as a supporter of Al-Arabi Sports Club, who are currently in mid-table in the Qatar Stars League but have won the title on seven occasions. To find their social media accounts, follow the links below:
- Twitter: @Afakhroo_
Q. Who would you say is your country’s best player and coach/manager of all-time, and the reasonings behind the choices?
The best player is Mansour Moftah, and the best coach is the current coach, Félix Sánchez. The reason for choosing them is that for the first time in our history we have achieved the Asian Cup under the leadership of Félix Sánchez, and Mansour Moftah has a lot of achievements and a long history with the national team. Moftah is the Qatar Stars League all-time top goalscorer with 179 goals, and was the league’s top goalscorer on four seasons between the 1981-82 and 1985-86 seasons.
Q. Who could be regarded as a ‘cult hero’ in terms of the national team both in the past and present?
Mubarak Mustafa is a Qatari legend and is one of the most popular Qatari, Gulf and Arab players. He gained his fame from his extraordinary skill that made him one of the bright stars in Qatari football and one of his greatest achievements was reaching the U-16 World Cup in 1987 in Canada and reaching the quarter-finals. He was also involved in getting the Qatar team to qualify for the football tournament in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
Reaching the quarter-finals at the 1992 Olympics was perhaps among the most prominent achievements Mubarak achieved, and it was he who scored a crucial goal in the 1-0 victory against Egypt which ultimately paved the way for the Qatari side to reach the second round of the Olympics for the first time in the history of Qatari football.
Q. Of the current team, who would you say is the best player from Qatar currently?
I will select Akram Afif [24 year old left winger currently at Al Sadd] because he is a complete player and he has played in Europe for many seasons, such as with Villarreal in Spain, and he also played in Belgium for Eupen, and gained experience from major players. He won the Best Asian Player award in 2019, and he is also a scorer and a playmaker for the national team.
Q. How would you describe the current state/performance of the national team?
The national team is under great development due to our participation in the 2019 Copa América, playing friendlies against European qualifiers, and entering international tournaments that gave us great spirit, performance and goodness that contributed to building a strong team.
Q. Are there any Qatari players who you think we should be focusing on for the future – who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent from the country?
Yes, there are a couple of players, and they are Akram Afif and Almoez Ali [24 year old attacking midfielder who currently plays for Al-Duhail]. Akram won the best player in Asia award for the year 2019, and Almoez holds the record for scoring the most goals in one Asian Cup by scoring nine goals during the 2019 run, as well as winning the best player of the tournament award. Both of them are huge talents and have a great future
Q. Looking at Qatar’s international history, what would you say has been the best game, result or performance for the national team in your opinion?
The best result and performance match was against Japan in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup final.
Q. Likewise, is there a performance or result which is regarded as the team’s lowest point?
The team’s lowest performance was against Iraq in the Gulf Cup in 2019, losing 2-1 in the opening game of the tournament.
Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of the Qatari national team?
The best thing is that I am proud of the current team being the defending Asian champions, whilst there are no bad things.
Q. Have the fans adopted some kind of unofficial anthem to sing along to before/during/after matches?
Before the match, the Qatari national anthem is sung.
Q. Do you have a favourite or iconic shirt from the whole time of the national team?
The best shirt is the 2020 shirt. It is very luxurious.
Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of the Jordanian national team?
Our hopes are high. We hope to go far in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, at least to the semi-finals, and I am sure we are able to do that.
A massive شكرا جزيلا to Afakhroo for answering our questions on the Maroons. Remember you can find their social media account in the links at the top of the blogpage.
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