Qatar shifts focus as World Cup qualifying resumes

There is stability in the dugout as Qatar resume their first World Cup qualifying campaign against Kuwait on Thursday, but six weeks after defending their Asian Cup title on home soil, things have changed on the pitch.

Marquez Lopez, who led Qatar to a successful defense of their continental title last month, was handed a contract until 2026 after taking over on an interim basis from Carlos Queiroz in December. But while there will be a familiar face on the bench at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium, there will be a newcomer to wear the captain’s armband after Hassan Haydos announced his retirement from the international stage. .

The 33-year-old captain led the team to success in 2019 and last month’s Asia Cup, but a disappointing run at the 2022 World Cup has left a creative void at the heart of the squad. blank.

The team Lopez takes over sit top of Group A with six points after winning their first matches against Afghanistan and India, with the top two in each group advancing to the next stage of the preliminary rounds. Eight Asian national teams are guaranteed promotion to the finals, with a ninth team advancing to the intercontinental play-offs. Qatar hosted the 2022 World Cup but never qualified for the finals, with Japan, South Korea, Australia, Iran and Saudi Arabia claiming Asian spots at the most recent edition.

Japan face North Korea in the first of two games in Tokyo on Thursday before traveling to Pyongyang on Tuesday for Mori Yasu’s side’s first international outing since a poor showing at the Asia Cup. . Japan leads Group B with maximum points from both games, with North Korea and Syria on three points against Myanmar. South Korea will play Thailand under the leadership of Hwang Seon-hong, the German’s temporary replacement for Jurgen Klinsmann after he was sacked after the Asian Cup.

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Jurgen Klinsmann’s side were knocked out of the semi-finals of the continental tournament following a dispute between captain Son Heung-min and Paris Saint-Germain’s Lee Kang-in.

South Korea also has 6 points in Group C, 3 points ahead of Thailand and China. The Iran team in Group E has 4 points with the Uzbekistan team and will face the Turkmenistan team at home in Tehran. The Uzbek team will go to face the Hong Kong team of China. Australia top points in Group One ahead of their clash with Lebanon, while Palestine face Bangladesh in Kuwait City due to Gaza’s conflict with Israel.

Group G leaders Saudi Arabia face second-placed Tajikistan, with Roberto Mancini’s side two points clear of the Asian Cup quarter-finalists.

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By Ali Raza

I am a dedicated and skilled News Content Writer with a passion for delivering accurate and engaging stories to a diverse audience. With a solid background in journalism and a keen eye for detail, I bring a commitment to excellence and a deep understanding of the evolving media landscape.

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