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SPORTS | 01-04-2022 15:33

Qatar 2022 World Cup draw: Argentina to face Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland

Argentina will face Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland at Qatar 2022 this November, after Friday's World Cup draw in Doha.

Argentina will face Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland at the Qatar World Cup later this year after FIFA carried out the draw for football's most famous tournament in Doha on Friday.

The Albiceleste were drawn in Group C and will kick off their campaign at 4pm Buenos Aires time on Tuesday, November 22 against Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium. 

Lionel Scaloni's side will then face Mexico on Saturday, November 26, at 10am at the Education City Stadium, before returning to the Lusail Stadium for a clash against Poland at 4pm on Wednesday, November 30.

In the other headline takeaways, there will be a mouth-watering clash between former World Cup winners Germany and Spain, who were drawn in the same group. Geopolitical rivals the United States and Iran were also drawn together.

Four-time World Cup winners Germany were in Pot Two, making them the obvious team to avoid for the top seeds in the draw in the Qatari capital. They were knocked out of the 2018 tournament in Russia in the group stage.

Germany and Spain are joined by Japan in Group E, which will be completed by the winner of an intercontinental play-off in June between Costa Rica and New Zealand.

Iran and the United States last met at the 1998 World Cup in France when the Iranians won the politically-charged game 2-1 in Lyon.

England also found themselves in Group B and will face Iran in their opening game on the tournament's first day, on November 21.

Gareth Southgate's side, semi-finalists four years ago in Russia and runners-up at Euro 2020, might also come up against neighbours Wales or Scotland, although Ukraine could also take the last spot in the European play-offs, to be decided in June.

Hosts Qatar, who will be appearing at their first World Cup, will face Ecuador in the World Cup's opening game at the 60,000-seat Al Bayt stadium in Al Khor, 35 kilometres north-east of Doha.

Qatar will also take on African champions Senegal as well as the Netherlands, who return to the World Cup after missing out in 2018, in Group A.

Reigning champions France will likely be pleased at finding themselves alongside familiar foes Denmark as well as Tunisia in Group D, which will be completed by the winners of the other intercontinental play-off, Australia, Peru or the United Arab Emirates.

Record five-time winners Brazil will play Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon in Group G.

 

Last chance for Messi and Ronaldo?

It might be Lionel Messi's last chance to win a World Cup as he will turn 35 before the tournament. The same goes for Cristiano Ronaldo, who will be nearly 38 when Portugal come up against Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea in Group H.

Croatia, runners-up in 2018, were drawn with Belgium and Morocco in Group F, which is completed by a Canada side returning to the World Cup for the first time in 26 years.

Thursday's event in Doha was attended by 2,000 guests, and featured former World Cup winners Cafu and Lothar Matthäus among the draw assistants.

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, was among those in attendance.

"I feel proud and happy that the world will see Qatar as we promised. We will provide an exceptional World Cup in our Arab world," he said during a short speech.

 

Controversial

The build-up to Qatar 2022 has been dominated by the off-field issues surrounding the awarding of the tournament.

It is the most controversial World Cup in history, with Qatar dogged ever since it was named host in 2010 by accusations of vote-buying – which were hotly denied – and questions over the country's suitability.

It will be the first World Cup held in November and December, the move from the usual June and July slot necessary because of the extreme heat in the Gulf region at that time of year.

Concerns remain over the treatment of gay and transgender supporters coming to a country where homosexuality is illegal, as well as over the working conditions of hundreds of thousands of migrant labourers in the country, including those who built stadiums.

At Thursday's FIFA Congress in Doha, Lise Klaveness, head of the Norwegian Football Federation, spoke out to say that the 2018 and 2022 World Cups had been awarded "in unacceptable ways with unacceptable consequences".

"Human rights, equality, democracy, the core interests of football were not in the starting XI until many years later," she said.

 

Who's playing who?

Groups for the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar following the draw on Friday:

Group A: Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands

Group B: England, Iran, USA, Wales or Scotland or Ukraine

Group C: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland

Group D: France, Peru or UAE or Australia, Denmark, Tunisia

Group E: Spain, Costa Rica or New Zealand, Germany, Japan 

Group F: Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia

Group G: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon

Group H: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea

World Cup finals to be played from November 21 to December 18

Intercontinental play-offs to be contested on June 13-14:

i) Winner of United Arab Emirates v Australia face Peru 

ii) New Zealand v Costa Rica 

European play-offs to be held in June on dates to be announced

 

 

– TIMES/AFP

 

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