FIFA Arab Cup 2021 kicks off in Qatar

Qatar hosts 16 best teams from the Arab world, as matches kick off 12 months ahead of the World Cup.

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Al Bayt Stadium in the norther city of Al Khor will be inaugurated on Tuesday [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Qatar will host the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 from Tuesday, just 12 months ahead of the World Cup 2022 which will be the first to take place in the Middle East.

Tunisia takes on Mauritania in the tournament’s opening fixture with Iraq, the most successful team in the competition with four titles, locking horns with Oman in the second match.

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Hosts Qatar will play Bahrain and the UAE will take on Syria in the other matches on Tuesday.

Here is what you need to know about the tournament:

How many teams are taking part?

A total of 16 teams, divided into four groups, are taking part in the tournament.

Group A: Qatar, Iraq, Oman, Bahrain
Group B: Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Syria, Mauritania
Group C: Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine
Group D: Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Sudan

What is the tournament format?

Each team plays three group matches with the top two sides from each group progressing to the quarter-finals that will take place on December 10 and 11.

The four winners will meet in the semi-finals with the final taking place on December 18, Qatar’s national day.

Which stadiums will host the matches?

The tournament will take place in six stadiums across the country.

While four of those stadiums have already hosted matches, Ras Abu Aboud Stadium in the capital Doha and Al Bayt Stadium in the northern city of Al Khor will be inaugurated on the opening day of the tournament.

Ras Abu Aboud Stadium was constructed using shipping containers, removable seats and other modular ‘building blocks’ [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Arab Cup trivia

The most valuable Arab national teams are Morocco ($239m), Algeria ($195m) and Tunisia ($36m) according to football website Transfermarkt.

The most valuable player by trade value is Egypt’s Mohamed Salah, the 29-year-old who plays for Liverpool. He has a market value of some $113m.

Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi (PSG) and Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) are worth $79m and $47m respectively.

The average player age is 27 years old. Jordan’s Moataz Yaseen is the oldest player at 39 and Morocco’s Sami Tlemcani is the youngest at 17.

Source: Al Jazeera