Cahill: FIFA Arab Cup has highlighted deep love for football across the region
Qatar Legacy Ambassador Tim Cahill is backing Algeria to lift the FIFA Arab Cup™ on Saturday. The Australia legend – who appeared in four FIFA World Cups – has been impressed with the standard of football during the tournament. He also believes Qatar is perfectly positioned to host next year’s FIFA World Cup™ after attending several matches at the tournament, which featured the best 16 international teams from the Arab region. “I’ve been really impressed with the high level of football and the atmosphere in the stands,” said Cahill, who spent eight years playing for Everton in the English Premier League. “The stadiums have been packed and the fans have been treated to some exciting football. The semi-finals were incredible – both had action-packed finishes, including last-minute goals. There has been plenty of emotion on the pitch and in the stands.”
Cahill believes Algeria – who defeated Qatar 2-1 in the semi-finals on Wednesday night – are best-placed to lift the trophy at Al Bayt Stadium tomorrow. The Greens will face Tunisia in the final, after the Eagles of Carthage defeated Egypt 1-0 thanks to a late own-goal at Stadium 974. “If I had to predict a winner, I would say Algeria. But having said that, I think we are set up for a very interesting final. The Tunisians have some excellent young talent, including Hannibal Mjebri from Manchester United, while Algeria have established themselves as the strongest team in the competition thanks to players like Baghdad Bounedjah and Youcef Belaili.” Cahill, who currently works as the Chief Sports Officer at Aspire Academy, also believes the third-place play-off will be an exciting match – with hosts Qatar facing Egypt at Stadium 974. “Both teams have put in some remarkable performances during the tournament so I think it will be a decent game. It will be great for Qatar to again play in front of their home fans – however facing Egypt is never an easy task.”
Cahill said the organisation of the tournament proved Qatar was in an excellent position to deliver next year’s FIFA World Cup™, which will kick off on 21 November. “I think the real winners of this tournament are the fans. Millions have tuned into the tournament – with all of them excited to see who will be crowned the best team in the Arab world,” said Cahill. “The fans have also been treated to so many cultural activations off the pitch in the various stadium precincts. There has been a beautiful spirit and festive atmosphere at all the games – something which should excite everyone ahead of the World Cup. This tournament has really highlighted the deep love for football in this region – along with Qatar’s readiness to host the big one next year.” The FIFA Arab Cup™ final between Algeria and Tunisia will take place at Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday 18 December (kick-off 6 PM). The third-place play-off between Qatar and Egypt will be held earlier in the day at Stadium 974, kick-off 1 PM. Tickets for the matches are available from FIFA.com/tickets.