The Middle Eastern country will be the guest in this edition of the most important tournament for national teams in North, Central America and the Caribbean, becoming the second Asian nation to take part in the tournament in its history.
South Korea made its debut in the 2000 Gold Cup, being eliminated in the first round. In 2002, they participated again as a guest nation and reached the semifinals. The bar is therefore set very high for what will be the second Asian nation to play in the American championship. Qatar will play its first match against Panama.
However, the Asian country did not seem to be among the organizers' options, at least at first. They had to do without Curaçao, a team that had qualified but declined to participate due to a COVID-19 outbreak that affected its entire squad.
Due to their absence, three places were left vacant. One of them went to Guatemala for having obtained the second place in the qualification phase and another to Haiti, which was the best team eliminated from the qualification phase.
The fact that Qatar will host the World Cup in 2022 was decisive for the Middle Eastern country to win the remaining place. Much is expected of them as the reigning Asian champions, and they will surely do well.
This is the Qatar national team
They will not be just any opponent: they are the reigning AFC Asian Cup champions. The Qatari team arrives more than motivated by the great responsibility of hosting the 2022 World Cup. It will be an absolutely unprecedented event in their history, so much so that it is precisely the reason for their inclusion in this edition of the tournament.
One of their most prominent players will be young striker Almoez Ali, who was the top scorer of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. He scored nine goals and had a sensational tournament, confirming himself as one of their biggest stars.
His partner in attack, the also young Akram Afif, is not far behind: he scored a decisive goal in the final of the Asian Cup that they managed to lift this year and has finished as the top scorer and assist in the Qatar All-Star League. This team has plenty of firepower up front and will undoubtedly try to exploit it throughout the tournament.