Bahrain will take on hosts Qatar as the Fifa Arab Cup gets underway today with four matches across Groups A and B.
All eyes will be on the Al Bayt Stadium in Doha where the opening ceremony takes place. After the festivities, current AFC Asian Cup holders Qatar will face Bahrain, who were crowned Gulf Cup and the West Asian Football Federation Championship in 2019.
The hosts will try to get off to the best possible start by ending a series of failures against Bahrain – their last victory against them coming in a friendly all the way back in 2004.
Speaking at a Press conference ahead of their Group A opener, Bahrain coach Helio Sousa said: “We are happy to take part in the tournament, which is sure to witness some exiting contests. We hope to start on a positive note.”
Bahrain’s captain and goalkeeper Syed Mohammed Jaffar said: We are ready for the opener against Qatar. The players have been preparing according to the plans set by the technical staff and we are eager to be in the middle of action.”
In the other Group A match, Iraq will be hoping to make up for a string of disappointing performances in the World Cup qualifiers, which ultimately led to the resignation of coach Dick Advocaat. They come up against an Omani team led by coach Branko Ivankovic, who has successfully put together a side that has performed well so far in the final round of the Asian qualifiers and has shown great consistency.
Tunisia begin their Group B campaign against Mauritania in what will be an all-African affair. The Eagles of Carthage are looking to extend their dominance in this fixture after the two teams met twice last month in the second round of the African qualifiers for Qatar 2022. Mondher Kabaier’s Tunisian side won the first match 3-0 and drew the second 0-0.
The match between UAE and Syria promises excitement aplenty after the pair met in an enthralling contest during a World Cup qualifier back in September. UAE will be hoping their star striker, Ali Mabkhout, continues his fine goalscoring form against a Syrian team led by reappointed Romanian coach, Valeriu Tita, who will be aiming to get something out of this fixture before the two teams meet again next January for the return match of the Qatar 2022 qualifiers.