Qatar grouped with UAE in revised Gulf Cup draw
Yemen and Iraq too in same group as hosts; defending champions Oman head the other group in eight-team tournament.
Three-time champions Qatar were grouped with the United Arab Emirates in Group A as the draw for the 24th Arabian Gulf Cup was made in Doha on Thursday.
The Arabian Gulf Cup Football Federation (AGCFF) had to hold the draw for the second time after the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain decided to compete in the tournament, making it an eight-team event instead of the five-team affair originally planned.
As hosts, Qatar were placed at the top of Group A, and they were joined by Yemen and Iraq, apart from the UAE. Oman, the defending champions, headed Group B, with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain being the other teams.
Asian Cup champions Qatar are the highest ranked team on the FIFA list at 57, while two-time winners UAE are ten slots below at 67. Iraq are ranked 74th, with Yemen the bottom-ranked at 141.
In Group B, three-time champions Saudi Arabia hold the best ranking of 69, with Oman (84), Bahrain (101) and Kuwait (156) following in that order, as per the October FIFA list.
The tournament fixtures will be announced later, as also the other hosting stadiums, apart from the Khalifa Stadium, the main venue, the AGCFF stated. As per the revised plans, the event will kick off on November 26 and conclude on December 8.
The draw ceremony, at the Grand Hyatt hotel, was attended among others by Qatar Football Federation President Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmad Al Thani, who is also the president of the AGCFF, and Nasser Al Khater, Chief Executive Officer of FIFA World Cup 2022 and Assistant Secretary General (Tournament Affairs), Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy.
Jassim Al Rumaihi, the Secretary General of the AGCFF, termed the draw as a fair one.
“It’s a fair draw. All the teams are playing in the qualification rounds of the Asian Cup and the World Cup. I hope we get to see a high level of football. As the teams are playing in the qualifying rounds, they’ll be well prepared and ready for this event,” he said.
Al Rumaihi said the increase in the number of teams has added to the value of the tournament. “It’s much better than having five teams. With eight teams, you can see different types of football from different nationalities and as I said, it would be the best tournament in terms of level of football.”
The organisers had already started sale of tickets but with three more teams coming in, the ticketing plans will see changes. Al Rumaihi said he was confident of the spectators turning up in big numbers.
“I’m confident there will be good crowds. This tournament is important not just for Qatar, it’s important for other teams as well. It’s been there for 50 years. So, everyone is looking forward to it. I am sure there will be a high level of football and plenty of spectators.”