MUSCAT, Nov 25 - Qatar is bracing up for another test of its growing credentials as the 2022 Fifa World Cup host as the country gears up to welcome its neighbours for the prestigious 24th Arabian Gulf Cup. The regional showpiece tournament will be a crucial part of Qatar’s preparations for the world’s biggest sporting spectacle which they will host in 2022. The top regional tournament will be hosted in World Cup venues including Khalifa International Stadium and Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium. Qatar hosted the Arabian Gulf Cup three times and this edition will be the fourth while the team has been successful in winning the Gulf Cup title three times in 1992, 2004 and 2014.
The organising committee completed all the preparations for the opening ceremony of the tournament which will be followed by the opening matches of group one. All the participating teams have arrived in Doha and began their last warm up sessions prior to the kick-off of the competition.
Qatar are entering this tournament as one of the main nominees to clinch the fourth title while Kuwait are enthusiastic to be back to the winning route after Fifa suspension.
A new-look Saudi Arabia are ready to compete for the crown. Bahrain have a good strong squad as well. Another contenders are Iraq who had delivered high performance and results in the World Cup qualifiers. UAE team would like to rekindle the memories and regain the title of the GCC Cup. Despite the existing situation in Yemen, they are looking for a better participation in this edition. Oman with their new head coach Erwin Koeman want to retain the title and lift the title for the second successive time and third in the history.
The 12 days tournament, which will start on Tuesday and go on until December 8, will begin with a tough match between Asian Cup champions Qatar and Iraq. The match will kick off at 8:30 pm (Oman Time) at Khalifa International Stadium. In the same group, current runners-up UAE will take on Yemen. The match will start at 9 pm (Oman Time) at Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium (Al Duhail).
VAR TO BE INTRODUCED
The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system will be implemented for first time at the Arabian Gulf Cup. As many as 32 referees, including four umpires from the Sultanate, will officiate the matches. Oman’s referees list feature experienced international referees Ahmed al Kaaf, Omar al Yaqubi, Abu baker al Amri and Hamed al Ghafri. Three referees from Belgium will officiate the competition besides two umpires from Switzerland.
During the tournament, the GCC executive committee will announce the host country for the next edition of the Arabian Gulf Cup. Iraq is the only country who submitted the bid.