Qatar World Cup Preview & Analysis: Schedule, Roster & Projections

Qatar World Cup Preview & Analysis: Schedule, Roster & Projections article feature image

Pictured: Akram Afif.

  • World Cup hosts Qatar will be participating in their first iteration of the event.
  • Where do they stand ahead of the tournament?
  • Read on for a full team preview.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup has arrived, and Action Network's staff of soccer experts are here to take you through each and every team that will be participating. 

Read on for a full breakdown of Qatar ahead of the tournament, and click here for analysis on each of the other 31 teams.

Qatar World Cup Preview

Qatar are probably the biggest “unknown” in this entire tournament because of how little data we have on not only them as a team but on the individual players.

Every single player on Qatar’s roster plays in the Qatar Stars League, and not one player plays abroad, so it’s hard to gauge just how impressive some players' goal scoring, assist and defensive numbers actually are. 

To add even further to the mystery of this team, since they are the host country, they did not have to qualify for this tournament. They did play in the first round of Asian World Cup qualifying, however. They were paired in a group with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Oman. Over eight matches, they created 22.4 xG and only allowed 6.5 xGA. That’s impressive, but none of those four opponents are even ranked inside the Action Network’s Top 80 teams in the world. 

However, Qatar did go and play the Gold Cup in the summer of 2021. There, they performed very well, drawing Panama in the group stage and then beating El Salvador in the quarter finals (despite losing the xG battle). They actually played in the semifinals against the United States (who weren’t playing a full strength squad), but Qatar ended up playing an even game with the Americans, with an even xG total and a missed penalty for Qatar.

Chances To…Action Projectionsbet365 Odds
Win Group Stage4.41%+1600
Advance To Knockout Round16.99%+300
Win World Cup0.04%+25000
Odds as of publish. Action projections by Nick Giffen of the Action Predictive Analytics team.

Qatar do have a couple of fun attacking players in left winger Akram Afif, who plays for Al-Saad, the two time defending champs of the Qatar Stars League. They also have a good striker in Almoez Ali, who has scored 39 goals in 82 international appearances. 

The biggest concern for a team like Qatar that has spent so much time playing lesser competition and dominating possession is how they are going to fare when they have to sit in and defend for a majority of the match.

Qatar do have a major rest advantage over the rest of the countries in this competition, though. The Qatari Stars League went on pause on September 14th, so these players will have two months of rest and training together before they take on Ecuador on November 20th. 

That first match against Ecuador is their best chance of getting three points and potentially sneaking into the Round of 16, but they are significant underdogs against Senegal and the Netherlands, so I have a hard time seeing how the host nation is going to get through Group A. 

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Key Player: Akram Afif 

Afif has been the player of the year in the Qatari Stars League three out of the last four seasons with Qatar’s most successful club, Al-Saad. He usually plays on the left wing and is particularly dangerous with the ball at his feet cutting toward the 18-yard box to create a chance on goal. 

However, in Qatar’s 3-5-2 system, he plays up top as a striker alongside Almoez Ali, and they have developed a nice partnership, combining for 63 goals since 2015. Afif also provided 17 assists in only 18 matches for Al-Saad during the 2021-22 season. 

Afif did originally sign for Villarreal back in 2016, but after four years of loan spells at Sporting Gijón and Eupen, he only managed to score one goal.

If teams in Group A do not have a capable right back able to handle his pace and ability on the ball, he could cause a lot of problems for the opposition. 

Tactical Analysis

Qatar will typically play out of a 3-5-2 with their wing backs able to play as wingers in attack. The 3-5-2 in and of itself is typically utilized when teams want to play more of a counter attacking style, so Qatar will be well equipped to play without the ball in Group A.

The thing that makes Qatar so dangerous is they have a ton of speed going forward in attack and are able to transition the ball very quickly through combinations.

What the 3-5-2 allows you to do is play a five man back line with the wing backs dropping deep to help out in defense, and it also helps make the middle of the pitch very compact, having three central midfielders on the pitch. 

Since this Qatari team has been playing with each other for a very long time, they are very disciplined and have a fantastic defensive shape that is very difficult to break down. So, they will be well equipped to play without the ball and sit in and defend in a low block. 

Additionally, since they will have had two months to train together before their first match against Ecuador, they will have their tactics well drilled down, while everyone else has eight days to prepare.

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Qatar World Cup Schedule

Ecuador11 a.m. ET, Nov. 20
Senegal8 a.m. ET, Nov. 25
Netherlands10 a.m. ET, Nov. 29

Most Recent World Cup Result

N/A, First Appearance

This will be Qatar's first appearance in the World Cup Finals, and they qualified via being the host nation. Qatar have never gotten past World Cup Qualifying.

Qatar World Cup Roster

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