Qatar eye win over Kuwait to advance in World Cup qualifiers, seal Asian Cup berth

Qatar eye win over Kuwait to advance in World Cup qualifiers, seal Asian Cup berth

The Peninsula

Doha, Qatar: Qatar are set to take on Kuwait in their reverse fixture, setting sights on early progression in the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers and seal their AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 berth with a victory tonight.

The Marquez Lopez’s men reached Kuwait yesterday after holding their final training session in Doha on Sunday night, looking to maintain their perfect run in the Preliminary Joint Qualification – Round 2, with the match kicking off at 10:00pm at Ali Subah Al Salem Stadium in Al Ardiya.

The reigning double Asian champions blanked Kuwait 3-0 in their home tie of the double-header last Thursday, consolidating their top spot in Group A with nine points, having also defeated Afghanistan 8-1 and India 3-0 in their first two games in November.

Qatar will confirm their berth for the 2027 Asian Cup and will also advance to the next stage of the World Cup 2026 qualifiers by earning further three points against Kuwait tonight.

But the hosts, coached by Rui Bento are expected to give Qatar a tough challenge in their home fixture as Lopez eyes victory.

“We have worked hard to prepare for the match and will hold the final training session tonight before the match,” the Qatar coach said at a pre-match press conference yesterday.

“We have defeated Kuwait on Thursday but it will be a new challenge for us. We will give our best to take full three points,” Lopez added.

Responding to a query regarding the selection of youngsters like Al Rayyan forward Ahmed Al Rawi, the Spaniard said: “We are introducing young talent as part of our policy to form a strong squad that has a mix of youth and experienced players as we are facing a major challenge in the qualifiers.”

Qatar striker Almoez Ali (right), goalkeepers Salah Zakaraia (centre) and Meshaal Barsham during team's training session last night.

Meanwhile, Qatar midfielder Mohammed Waad said the team will have to work hard against the home side to earn a win.

“It is certainly not an easy match and we are expecting a tough challenge from Kuwait who will play in front of their home fans,” he said.

“But we are determined to maintain our winning form and return with full points,” Waad added.

Asian Cup top scorer Akram Afif, who wore the captain’s armband to replace retired Hassan Al Haydos, will be the key player for Qatar as the star forward has been in sublime form scoring a brace against Kuwait to take his tally to 10 international goals this year.

Meanwhile, India will host Afghanistan in other Group A match after the two sides played a goalless draw on Thursday.

“We should have won with the chances we created, we tried different combinations and players but it just did not work. This is a problem that has been following us for years,” said India coach Igor Stimac.

India are second in the group with four points followed by Kuwait, who have three points. Afghanistan, who are yet to score a win, are on the bottom and need a win to keep their chances alive.

The top two sides from each group will advance to the third round of World Cup qualifying besides confirming their berths for the 2027 Asian Cup.