Qatar added to Ireland World Cup qualification group

26 November 2018; Newly appointed Republic of Ireland U21 manager Stephen Kenny during a press conference at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

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They join Portugal, Serbia, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan as Ireland’s opponents. 

Reports fluctuated earlier surrounding Qatar’s potential inclusion in European World Cup qualifying as preparation for the finals. Those reports were then confirmed by the FAI by way of a tweet announcing Ireland’s fixtures.

They have already qualified for the finals due to their position of host, however this will give the nation a chance to see where they’re at in terms of competitiveness. They won’t be competing for points, meaning their games will be played as friendlies.

Ireland will play Qatar twice in qualifying, both home and away. The venue of these fixtures has not yet been decided. Given the distance between the two nations, it could very well be played in a neutral ground.

Qatar are ranked at 59 in the FIfa World Rankings, not many places below Ireland who are currently ranked 42. Despite not being a traditional football powerhouse, Qatar should provide stern competition for Ireland given their growth over the past few years.

Ireland are first set to play Qatar on March 30th. The final match between the two countries will take place on October 12th.

 

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