Qatar has never played in a World Cup. And let’s be honest, it probably would have taken longer for them to qualify if it weren’t for them being the host.
According to the soccer odds, their chances of advancing to the Round of 16 are minimal, but hey, in 2018 Russia wasn’t expected to reach the Quarterfinals. Plus, they’re led by a scoring machine called Almoez Ali.
The last host not to make it out of the Group Stage was South Africa in 2010. Let’s see if the Maroons have what it takes to avoid such a fate.
How Did They Get to the 2022 WC?
Well, as recently mentioned, they’re the host. Unlike the reigning champion, the host has a guaranteed spot.
Even so, Qatar played the second round of the Asian Football Confederation qualifiers for two reasons: to keep up the rhythm and to qualify for the Asian Cup. And they did after winning Group E thanks to a 7-1-0 record, 18 goals for and only one against. Oman took their place in the third round of the WC after finishing as the runners-up.
Almoez Ali finished as the team’s top scorer with six goals. Akram Afif followed him with four and Hassan Al-Haydos with two.
Head Coach & Top Players
Felix Sanchez is a Spanish head coach whose entire professional career has been in Qatar. From 2013 to 2015, he coached the Under-19 team, winning nine out of 10 games. Later, he coached the Under-20 squad for 12 games, finishing with a 2-2-8 record. Despite those rough numbers, he was appointed coach of the Under-23 team in 2017. He led them to a 10-9-13 record in three years.
He also took over the senior team in 2017; yes, that can be done, leading them to a 43-15-23 record. That record includes winning the 2019 AFC Cup undefeated. The Maroons beat Iraq, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, and Japan in the knock-out stages. In other words, they faced and defeated la crème de la crème.
Regarding the top players, we already established that Ali is a scoring machine, but what about the defense and midfield? Well, the defense is led by goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb, who won the Golden Glove in the 2019 regional tournament. He currently plays for Al-Sadd, with which he has won the domestic title three times.
Hassan Al-Haydos is the midfielder you want to keep an eye on. He has scored 33 goals for Qatar’s national team and has won it all with Al Sadd, including the AFC Champions League. Summing up, the Maroons have a well-balanced team.
Qatar in the 2022 World Cup
Due to being the host, Qatar is in Group A. The Maroons will face Ecuador, Senegal, and the Netherlands, in that same order. As expected, the European side comes in as the betting online favorite to win it, thanks to a -250 price. Qatar isn’t even the favorite to finish second, as Sanchez’s team offers a +1400 price.
The last host team to win the title was France in 1998. Just to give you an idea, Brazil is the soccer betting favorite to win the title at +450, at least at the time of writing, while Qatar is offering a +35000 price. I’m not saying the Maroons will pull off a stunner, but I wouldn’t rule them out from advancing to the Round of 16, especially if they defeat Ecuador in the opener.
Individually, Ali is listed among the dark horses to win the Golden Boot. He’s offering a +25000 price.