Boudiaf: Arab Cup a great learning experience before World Cup

  • Qatar’s FIFA Arab Cup title bid was ended by Algeria

  • Al Annabi to face Egypt in battle for third

  • Karim Boudiaf discusses team’s Arab Cup adventure

Notwithstanding their semi-final defeat, Qatar gave a good account of themselves at the FIFA Arab Cup 2021™ with victories over Bahrain, Oman, Iraq and UAE, before succumbing to a strong Algerian outfit.

Despite already participating in the Copa America and CONCACAF Gold Cup, as well as playing official friendlies as part of European qualifying for the FIFA World Cup 2022™, Qatar were relishing the chance to test themselves at the Arab Cup, where, playing in front of large crowds, they could also get a foretaste of what to expect when hosting next year’s showpiece event.

In conversation with FIFA.com, Al Annabi midfielder Karim Boudiaf explained the importance of the competition a year prior to the World Cup: “The tournament was a trial run for the World Cup and has given us the chance to compete against strong teams such as Algeria and Egypt, who we’re about to play for third place.”

Podium place at stake

The semi-final against Algeria had a thrilling finale with Qatar equalising in added time only for the Desert Warriors to grab the winner from the penalty spot in the 17th minute of added time.

Despite that bitter defeat, Karim Boudiaf was focusing on the positive: “Although we ultimately lost out, we came back strongly and equalised in the dying minutes of the match. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the winning goal.

“Overall, though, we’re satisfied with our performance at the tournament,” he added. And the journey is not over yet for the Qatari midfielder, who is seeking to finish the event on a high and claim third place ahead of Egypt.

“We still have it all to play for against the Pharaohs. We’ll be facing a strong team with a lot of experience, so we’ll no doubt take a lot from the game. Going up against teams like Algeria and Egypt gives us vital experience before the World Cup.”

An enthralling final in store

After the third-place play-off at Stadium 974, all eyes will turn to Al Bayt Stadium, which will host the Tunisia-Algeria final and bring to a close what has been an entertaining tournament for all.

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s decider, Boudiaf said: “It’s a big final between Algeria and Tunisia, as they’re old rivals who are used to playing each other. With each having star-studded line-ups, neither will find it easy, so I’m expecting a very competitive match.”

The 31-year-old finished by saying: “The Arab Cup has been spectacular, and it’s been a privilege to be a part of it.”