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Qatar join Ireland's World Cup qualifying group as fixtures are announced

Ireland will play the World Cup hosts in two friendly games, and open the campaign away to Serbia.

FIFA World Cup trophy.
FIFA World Cup trophy.
Image: Nick Potts

Updated Dec 8th 2020, 6:41 PM

QATAR HAVE JOINED Republic of Ireland’s 2022 World Cup qualifying group in an agreement between Uefa and the Asian Football Confederation to enhance their preparation for the competition. 

“As Qatar has already qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup as hosts, Uefa has invited them to join with the teams of Group A to help their squad prepare for the tournament”, read a Uefa statement. 

Portugal, Serbia, Luxembourg, and Azerbaijan are the other sides in the group.

Qatar will not be competing for points as they have already qualified, so their games will be treated as friendlies. 

Ireland will not be expected to fly to Doha for an away fixture, with Qatar set to base themselves in Europe for the games. The ‘away’ fixture will be played a neutral venue in Europe, yet to be announced.

Ireland’s group was selected as it was the only five-team group without a team competing in the Nations League finals. 

There is precedent for this, as hosts France competed in Euro 2016 qualifying. This is not the first time Qatar have participated in other continental competitions: they took part in the 2019 Copa America and will do so again next year. 

The group’s fixtures have since been confirmed by Uefa this evening. 

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Ireland face Serbia away first on 24 March before welcoming Luxembourg three days later. They will also have the first of their friendly ties against Qatar during that month, with the second will take place in October.

September is the only window featuring three competitive games, beginning with Portugal away followed by home games with Azerbaijan and Serbia. The return game with Azerbaijan is on 9 October, with the group culminating in November with Portugal at home followed by Luxembourg away. 

Ireland must top the group to qualify automatically, with second place earning a play-off. 

Ireland’s World Cup Qualifying Fixtures:

Serbia v Ireland – 24 March
Ireland v Luxembourg – 27 March
Ireland v Qatar – 30 March (non-competitive)
Portugal v Ireland – 1 September
Ireland v Azerbaijan – 4 September
Ireland v Serbia – 7 September
Azerbaijan v Ireland – 9 October
Qatar v Ireland – 12 October (non-competitive; game to be played in Europe)
Ireland v Portugal – 11 November
Luxembourg v Ireland – 14 November

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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