Qatar coach Felix Sanchez selected a 26-man squad World Cup on Friday exclusively made up of home-based players led by attacking trio Akram Afif, Almoez Ali and Hassan Al-Haydos.
The tournament host is playing at the World Cup for the first time and face Ecuador in the opening match on November 20. Qatar will also meet Senegal and the Netherlands in Group A.
Sanchez and his players have been staying together in near-lockdown since June while holding training camps in Spain and Austria.
It is a similar approach to that of South Korea 20 years ago when the co-hosts made a shock run to the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup.
Sanchez, who learned his trade over 10 years with Barcelona’s youth teams, guided Qatar to a 3-1 victory over Japan in the 2019 Asian Cup final for the country’s first major international title.
“In 2019, it was difficult to imagine that Qatar could win the Asian Cup,” Sanchez said recently in an interview with Spanish sports daily Marca.
“Obviously, I’m not talking about winning the World cup but to play at a good level against these three opponents is our challenge. Afterwards, it’s football and anything can happen.”
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