World Cup hosts Qatar to join European qualifying Group A
World Cup hosts Qatar will join European qualifying Group A, UEFA has announced.
Qatar will play their ‘home’ matches in Europe and as hosts have already qualified for the 2022 tournament, so their results will not count towards qualification.
“UEFA has invited the Qatar national team – the reigning champions of Asia – to prepare for the FIFA World Cup 2022,” UEFA said.
“Qatar will join Group A, alongside Portugal, Serbia, Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan.”
Ahead of Euro 2016, France were the first host nation to take part in a European Championship qualification phase, with their group-stage contests serving as friendlies with no points awarded.
England will launch their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign with a home game against Group I minnows San Marino on March 25 next year and three days later will travel to play in Albania.
The Three Lions will then play their home fixture against Poland on March 31 and must then wait just over five months before their next qualifying game, in Hungary on September 2.
Two qualifiers follow for Gareth Southgate’s side in September, with two more in October before their last home game against Albania on November 12 is followed by their final match in San Marino on November 15.
Scotland, in Group F alongside Denmark, Austria, Israel, Faroe Islands and Moldova, open their qualifying campaign at home against Austria on March 25 before travelling to play Israel three days later.
Steve Clarke’s side will make their final qualifying trip to Moldova on November 12 and will conclude their group games against Denmark at home on November 15.
Wales, drawn in Group E with Belgium, the Czech Republic, Belarus and Estonia, begin their qualifiers in Belgium on March 24, take on the Czech Republic in their first home game on March 30 and face Belgium in their final qualifier at home on November 16.
Northern Ireland will kick off their qualifying campaign in Group C with a daunting trip to Italy on March 25 and take on Bulgaria in their first home fixture on March 31.
Ian Baraclough’s side, who play Switzerland home and away in September, face Bulgaria in their last away fixture on October 12 and conclude their qualifiers with two home games, against Lithuania and Italy, on November 12 and 15 respectively.
The Republic of Ireland open their campaign in Serbia on March 24 and take on Group A underdogs Luxembourg at home on March 27.
Their last home qualifier is against Portugal on November 11 before they complete their group fixtures in Luxembourg three days later.
Following confirmation that Qatar have been added to Group A in order to prepare for the World Cup they are hosting in 2022, the Republic of Ireland face two further matches against them.
They play the Asian champions at home on March 30 and away on October 12, with neither result counting towards qualification.