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European Qualifiers a new challenge for Qatar players, says Felix Sanchez

Doha: Head coach Felix Sanchez is looking forward to Qatar's participation in the European FIFA World Cup Qualifiers later this month, saying the players will benefit from playing against some of the continent's biggest teams.

Qatar will travel to Vienna to face Luxembourg at the Generali Arena on March 24 and will meet Azerbaijan three days later. The Maroons will then travel to Dublin to face Republic of Ireland on March 30.

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The defending AFC Asian Cup champions will play their ‘home’ fixtures on European soil in order to facilitate shorter travel times for their group opponents. As the FIFA World Cup hosts, Qatar have already qualified for the 2022 tournament.

“The players are looking forward to participating in the European Qualifiers, where Qatar will play (in Group A) against Portugal, Serbia, Luxembourg, Azerbaijan and Republic of Ireland,” Sanchez told local media.

“I constantly follow the Qatar Stars League matches and there are some players who have presented good levels and demonstrated their ability to represent the team.

“We have a list of 40 players and the number will be reduced but there is the possibility of some new players joining the list. Although the preparatory period is short, the most important thing is to ensure that the group that will participate is ready to honour Qatari football.”

Sanchez added that the players will be selected on March 13, and the list will include between 25 and 30 players for the European qualifiers.

On Qatar’s withdrawal from this year’s CONMEBOL Copa America, Sanchez expressed hope of taking part in the next edition.

“Qatar will participate in the European Qualifiers and the national team will also take part in the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup. All these arrangements and changes have happened in the current period due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I apologise for Qatar not being able to participate in it (Copa America), and I hope that we will do so in the future, especially as it is a distinguished tournament."

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