Chance to make amends or secure knockout place

  • Second games in Group A and B kick off on Friday

  • Qatar, Tunisia and UAE all seeking early qualification

  • Others hoping to bounce back after opening-day travails

After an exciting start to the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021™, the second round of group games could be decisive for a number of teams. Several have the chance to book their places in the knockout phase, while others need to get points on the board and make up for faltering starts.

In Group A, tournament hosts Qatar take on Oman, with the former aiming for their second successive win and a place in the last eight. Meanwhile in Group B, UAE and Tunisia will be seeking to extend their winning starts despite facing difficult opponents.

Friday 3 December (all times local)

Group A Bahrain v Iraq (Al Thumama Stadium, 13:00) Oman v Qatar (Education City Stadium, 16:00)

Group B Mauritania v UAE (Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, 19:00) Syria v Tunisia (Al Bayt Stadium, 22:00)

History on their side Qatar head into their game against Oman with the confidence of a fine recent record against their opponents. Indeed, you have to go back more than 12 years for the Reds’ last victory over the hosts – a 1-0 triumph in the semi-final of the 2009 Arabian Gulf Cup en route to winning that title for the first time.

Backs against the wall The second game in Group A sees what should be a hard-fought encounter between Bahrain and Iraq, with little margin for error for either side after both failed to win their opening game. Portuguese coach Helio Sousa will be hoping his Bahraini players perform as well as they did against Qatar, where they managed 56 per cent of the possession, albeit without capitalising on it. For their part, Iraq will be without midfielder Yaser Kasim after his red card against Oman and thus even more reliant on Mohammed Qasim, one of their top performers in the opening game.

First meeting The clash of Mauritania and UAE at the Ras Abu Aboud Stadium will be the first ever meeting of the sides. The Africans will be keen to make amends for a heavy opening-day defeat by Tunisia and get back into contention against an Emirati team led by Caio Canedo, who scored one and made another in his side’s opening win over Syria. Asked about the Mauritania fixture, the striker told that "victory over Mauritania would leave us on six points and in a comfortable position, so that’s what we’re focusing on ahead of our showdown with Tunisia."

Potent attack Tunisia had the most effective front line in the opening round thanks to their 5-1 rout of Mauritania. Mohamed Firas Ben Larbi and Seifeddine Jaziri grabbed two apiece with Youssef Msakni rounding off the scoring. However, they face a stern test against a Syrian side that performed admirably in the second half of their opener with UAE, when they came close to salvaging a point.

The quotes

"Oman are very tough opponents who we’ve already faced twice (in the current FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers). We’ve had to quickly recover from our first game despite not having much time, but we’ll nonetheless try to perform better on Friday." Qatar coach Felix Sanchez

"We’re aiming to build on the Mauritania win when we face Syria in our second game so as to ensure early qualification for the next round. We’ll try to show the same determination, because we’re here in Doha to win the title." Tunisia defender Mohamed Amine Ben Hmida