Al Annabi ready for Canada challenge in Vienna friendly

Al Annabi ready for Canada challenge in Vienna friendly

The Peninsula

Asian champions Qatar are set to take on Canada in a friendly in Vienna as head coach Felix Sanchez mulls the 26-man Al Annabi squad to make debut at the FIFA World Cup at home.

Today’s game at the Viola Park will be the second last friendly for the World Cup hosts as the Spanish coach evaluates his players before finalising the squad. 

The match will kick off at 8pm (Qatar time).

Al Annabi will also play Chile on Tuesday – their last game during the international week to be followed by team announcements from the 32 competing nations. 

A group of 30 players are part of Qatar’s final preparations for more than three months, which included a training camp in Spain besides the ongoing camp in Austria. 

Ahead of the today's match, Sanchez tested his players and various formations during a four-nation friendly tournament – also featuring Jamaica, Ghana and Morocco – in Austria before meeting Croatia on September 20.

Qatar have competed in 30 international fixtures since March 2021, finishing third at the FIFA Arab Cup last December besides qualifying for the semi-finals on their CONCACAF Gold Cup debut last year. 

After the friendlies, Qatar squad will briefly return home and will hold an open training session on October 2. They will return to Spain for more isolation before the World Cup starts.

Al Annabi will kick off their World Cup campaign with their first Group A match against Ecuador in tournament’s opening game on November 20 at Al Bayt Stadium.   

Meanwhile, Canada, who are ranked 43rd in the FIFA rankings – five places above the reigning Asian champions – will also provide a best chance for Sanchez to check his players readiness.

Marking their first participation at the FIFA World Cup since Mexico 1986, Canada are also on a mission to make a strong presence at Qatar 2022. 

They are in Group F of this year’s World Cup along with football giants Belgium, Croatia and Morocco. 

After playing against Qatar, Canada, coached by John Herdman, will face Uruguay on September 27. 

“Qatar will probably be the most prepared team going in to the World Cup," Herdman said yesterday. 

"The investment that's gone into them is pretty unique — being able to use all of the opportunities that they have as a country to centralise their players and pretty much play like a club team."