Arab football stars, including former players and coaches, have stressed the importance of the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021, which will be organized by the International Football Association (FIFA) in partnership with the State of Qatar at the end of this year.
Ahead of unveiling the draw for the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 on Tuesday at Katara Cultural Village in Doha, Arab football stars noted the importance of Qatar's hosting of the tournament as part of its preparations to organize the most prominent sporting event in the world at the end of next year.
Omani goalkeeping legend Ali Al Habsi, who expressed his great happiness at the return of the Arab Cup, especially with the great development witnessed by Arab football in the recent period and with brilliant Arab players playing in European leagues such as Riad Mahrez, Hakim Ziyech, Mohamed Salah and others, adding the championship will also contribute to improving the levels of the Arab teams.
Speaking to reporters, Al Habsi said that holding the tournament in Qatar will be the best preparation before the World Cup 2022 due to the large number of participating teams, adding Qatar is capable of organizing a very distinguished tournament.
The Omani national team goalkeeper and ambassador of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy indicated that the competition will be strong between the teams, especially with the multiplicity of football clubs from Asia and Africa, in addition to the public presence, pointing to great presence in the last Club World Cup that saw the participation of one Arab team. So, certainly there will be greater interest with the participation of all Arab teams, he added.
Regarding holding matches on the World Cup stadiums, Al Habsi said it is a very wonderful thing, and considered it a mini-World Cup, during which all the distinctive sports facilities are tested and prepared before the World Cup 2022.
Saudi Arabia national team coach Herve Renard expressed his appreciation for the idea of the Arab Cup 2021, which Qatar will host next December.
The French coach said, in a press statement, that organizing the Arab Cup with the participation of all Arab teams is a good idea, adding that the only problem facing them in 2021 is that the calendar during it is crowded in the Asian continent because they will play a lot of matches.
He pointed out the Arab Cup will be held next December, and they do not know how the physical status of the players will be at that time. The priority will be to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, he explained.
He stated that they will play in September, October and November in the qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup before the start of the Arab Cup in December, so they will see if the team that they will participate with is complete and includes all the players, adding that there is still time before the start of the Arab Cup.
The Saudi coach explained that they will participate with a full team in order to progress far in the tournament, but he added that if they present a team that includes youth players, the goal will be for them to gain experience and prepare them.
Regarding Qatar, the French coach said that he led the Saudi national team in the previous Gulf Cup that was held in Doha and saw very wonderful stadiums, adding that there wont be any concern regarding the organizational aspects of the tournament.
For his part, the coach of the Moroccan national team Hossein Amouta expressed his happiness with the participation of the Moroccan national team in the tournament, stressing that the participation will be with the local team.
He expressed his hope that the Qatari initiative to establish the tournament will be the beginning of the establishment of many Arab gatherings in the future.
On the chances of the Moroccan national team in the tournament, he said that he always have great confident in the players, pointing out that they just achieved a wonderful victory in the African Nations Championship and being in the tournament will be a great incentive for players to present their best in the hope of opening the door to professionalism abroad.
Head of the Tunisian delegation Hussein Jenayah confirmed that all arrangements for holding the Arab Cup draw ceremony were excellent from an organizational point of view, adding that the tournament is important for friction with strong African and Asian teams.
He said that the tournament is the best preparation for Qatar before 2022 World Cup, and it is a very special preparation for them before the African Nations Championship, which will be held in January 2022.
The head of the Tunisian delegation concluded his remarks by saying that their roles as Arabs is to participate in the success of the 2022 World Cup, and the Arab Cup is a unique opportunity for that, stressing that what they see in Qatar is a very impressive development.
In turn, President of the South Sudan Football Association (SSFA) Francis Amin Michael praised the precautionary measures taken by the organizing committee in preparation for the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 draw in which the South Sudan national team is participating for the first time in its history. Francis extended his thanks and gratitude to the Qatar Football Association for the hospitality and reception, adding that it is not strange for the State of Qatar to organize major international sporting events.
He added that as for the South Sudan Football Association (SSFA), they are happy to participate in the draw ceremony and are proud to be part of this tournament that bring together all the 23 teams in the Arab world on the land of the World Cup country.
The President of SSFA pointed out that being in Qatar with the rest of the officials of the Arab associations constituted an ideal opportunity to exchange views and ideas and benefit from this Arab forum to develop cooperation in the future.
Meanwhile, Tunisian football coach Mondher Kebaier expressed his great happiness with Qatar's organization of the Arab Cup, expressing the hope that this initiative will continue in the future because of the great importance it represents, both for the participating teams and the players.
The Eagles of Carthage coach said that the tournament will witness strong competition among all, especially as it includes many different football clubs from Africa and Asia, such as the Qatari team that holds the title of the last edition of the AFC Asian Cup.
He pointed out that there are teams that have already been present in international forums and have provided outstanding levels which will benefit the FIFA Arab Cup 2021, indicating that the Tunisian team will do their best to claim the title, despite the strong competition that will be by the other teams participating.
For his part, former Syrian national team captain Firas Al-Khatib expected that the championship would witness an unparalleled success, especially as everyone was waiting for the kick-off, and thanked Qatar, the capital of Arab sports, for the idea of organizing this distinguished event that will bring together the Arabs.
Al-Khatib considered that the Syrian team will compete in the tournament in order to compete in addition to preparing for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers, especially that the FIFA Arab Cup will include strong teams, which will play in order to appear well and reach advanced positions.
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