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Qatar join Ireland's World Cup qualifying group as 2022 preparation


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The Republic of Ireland must face Qatar en route to the World Cup in 2o22.

The gulf state have been parachuted into Group A of the European qualifiers.

They'll face two games apiece against Ireland, Portugal, Serbia, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan. Those games will not count towards the final table.

Qatar - in effect - have been handed ten high-profile friendlies as preparation for the 2022 World Cup for which they've automatically qualified as hosts.

The news is unlikely to be welcomed by Ireland boss Stephen Kenny, who'd talked up the benefits of a five-team group after the draw was made.

He was pleased that his side would only be facing into two games, and not three, during the international window in March.

Ireland will have three games in that window, with the third at home to Qatar on March 30.

The return game - to be played in Europe - will come three days after the game with Azerbaijan in Baku.

Ireland's campaign will begin away to Serbia on Wednesday March 24, with Luxembourg visiting Dublin three-days later.

It concludes in November with a home match against Portugal, and a trip to the Duchy of Luxembourg.

 

Qatar are no strangers to competing in tournaments outside the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

They were invited to compete in the 2019 Copa America in Brazil and finished bottom of a group that contained Colombia, Argentina and Paraguay.

An invite to the 2021 renewal is also in the offing.

They're also set to compete in next year's CONCACAF Gold Cup where they'll play Honduras, Panama and Grenada.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND FIXTURES

GROUP A EUROPEAN QUALIFYING - 2022 FIFA WORLD CUP

March 2021
Wednesday, 24th – Serbia away
Saturday, 27th  – Luxembourg home
Tuesday, 30th – Qatar home, non-competitive

September 2021
Wednesday, 1st – Portugal away
Saturday, 4th – Azerbaijan home
Tuesday, 7th – Serbia home

October
Saturday, 9th – Azerbaijan away
Tuesday, 12th – Qatar away, non-competitive (game to be played in Europe)

November 
Thursday, 11th – Portugal home
Sunday, 14th – Luxembourg away

Richie Hogan, Jamesie, Graham Hunter, Liam O’Neill, Grassroots danger


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