Qatar’s golden generation: Players to watch during the World Cup

Qatar has never qualified for a single FIFA World Cup since the country’s independence in 1971, and this year’s team is looking to fight through the odds in the upcoming tournament.

Placed in a challenging group stage, the Qataris have been drawn against South Americans Ecuador, who share a young and naive roster similar to the Maroons, with several starters expected to debut in the World Cup for the first time.

African champions Senegal and European prizewinners The Netherlands poses a formidable challenge for first-timers Qatar as they aim to pass outside their pot.

The Felix Sanchez-coached side will require each one of their 26 men squad to be at their best.

Here are a few players who have the potential to make history for the country this coming winter.

Hassan Al-Haydos

Captain Hassan Al-Haydos is the all-time most-capped Qatari international on the squad, with 158 games under his belt.

Dubbed one of the greatest players in his generation, the forward has shelled a total of 38 goals during his time with Al Annabi.

With the ability to shift into the central midfield and the right-wing, Al Haydos has developed into not a leader both off and on the pitch.

Hassan Al-Haydos

A continental champion, the 31-year-old is pitted to return to his previous playing style that he torched with his club, Al Sadd.

Making his international career debut in the 2008 Summer Olympic Qualifiers, scoring several memorable goals, Al Haydos knows to deviate into an assailant when his team needs it the most.

Akram Afif

Like father like son, Akram Afif is a universal player who plays on both the left and right-wing as he possesses football knowledge from overseas.

Anointed the best player for the 2021-2022 season, Afif has continued to make a name for himself each year.

In the build-up to the 2019 Asian Cup victory, the forward scored a record number of 10 goals in the tournament earning him the AFC Player Of The Year seat.

Akram Afif

During the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021, Afif won the Adidas Bronze Ball award for assisting four goals in the tournament, the first in the category.

In Qatar’s bid to qualify for the Round of 16, Akram will be indispensable to replace.

Almoez Ali

As the face of Qatari football, Almoez Ali became the first player in history to score in three tournaments and on three continents – the Copa America 2019, the Asian Cup 2019, and the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Presently the country’s third-highest all-time goal scorer, with 39 goals in his name, Ali is short of all-time top scorer Mansour Muftah, who has nailed 44 in the box.

Almoez Ali

A marksman, the 26-year-old made noise in the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup, scoring 12 goals in five matches.

Taking the Gold Cup Top Scorer Award, Ali was one of the motivations for advancing Qatar to reach the semi-final of the CONCACAF tournament.

Abdelkarim Hassan

Banding 120 games to his name, Abdelkarim Hassan won the Asian Footballer of the Year award in 2018.

In 2019, the 29-year-old defender submitted a hat trick against Yemen, who were handed a 6-0 humiliating loss at the Gulf Cup.

Gifted with speed, dribbling, and screamers, Hassan furnishes the team with his game knowledge.

Abdelkarim Hassan

A part of the golden generation of Qatari footballers, Hassan will be needed as he partners up with Almoez Ali and captain Hassan Al-Haydos.

Saad Al Sheeb

Reaching the goal of playing in the World Cup, Saad Al Sheeb will no doubt play in the upcoming tournament.

Only conceded a lone goal throughout that 2019 AFC tournament, Al Sheeb has earned a spot with the Al Annabi squad.

Credited as the Best Goalkeeper at the 2019 Asian Cup, the 32-year-old often joined the team from the bench as he sought to expand his goal sheet.

Facing a tough Group A, Al Sheeb will undoubtedly be the hand the country needs in its first World Cup campaign.

Bassam Al Rawi

A rising defender for the country, Bassam Al Rawi has done more than just defend the ball away from Qatar’s box.

At the 2019 AFC tournament, the 24-year-old nailed in two free kicks securing the team’s path to championship.

A dominant leader on Al Duhali Sc, Al Rawi has the ability to prove himself on the international stage as he bears 54 caps with the Maroons.

Bassam Al Rawi

Offensively Qatar’s team has the ability to penetrate the box, but will need tactical players like Al Rawi who can do both.

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