November 20 will be a red-letter day for Qatari football.
Its men’s football team will make its World Cup debut as hosts of the tournament, taking on Ecuador at the Al Bayt Stadium to mark the opening of the 2022 World Cup.
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The Maroon have been on an upward trajectory in recent years.
Here is a timeline tracking the team’s, and the sport’s, journey and how it has established itself in the Asian football pyramid:
1960 – The Qatar Football Association (QFA) is formed. Three years later, it becomes an official FIFA member.
1970 – The national team plays its first official match against Bahrain in the biennial Gulf Cup, losing 2-1.
1972 – The QFA launches the Qatar football league.
1974 – Qatar win their first international match, beating Oman 4-0 in the second group game of the Gulf Cup. Qatar finishes third in the six-team tournament.
1975 – The Maroon take part in the Asian Cup qualifiers but fail to qualify for the tournament.
1977 – Qatar beat Bahrain on its World Cup qualifiers debut but finish third and fail to make it out of the group.
1980 – Managed by former Barcelona and Brazil winger Evaristo, Qatar makes its first appearance at the Asia Cup.
1984 – The team reaches the Gulf Cup final for the first time but loses 4-3 to Iraq on penalties.
1992 – Qatar qualify for the Summer Olympics, where they beat Egypt and hold Colombia to a draw. The same year, the team wins its first-ever Gulf Cup, winning four out of its five games in the tournament.
1997 – Qatar make it to the final round of qualifiers for the 1998 World Cup but miss out on qualification after losing to Saudi Arabia in the last game. A win would have secured a spot in France 1998.
2004 – Win a second Gulf Cup, this time as hosts.
2006 – The Maroon win their first Asian Games gold, defeating Iraq in the final.
2014 – A seminal year in Qatar football as the team loses just one match the entire year and wins the West Asia Football Federation and the Gulf Cup championships.
2019 – Against all odds, Qatar wins the Asian Cup for the first time. En route to the title, Qatar defeat South Korea in the quarter-finals and four-time champions Japan in the final. They concede just one goal in the entire tournament. The same year, Qatar was invited to play in the Copa America where, after an impressive 2-2 draw against Paraguay, it loses the next two games and finishes bottom of the group.
2021 – The team is invited to play the CONCACAF Gold Cup, where it makes it to the semi-finals before losing 1-0 to hosts USA.