Doha, Qatar: Despite getting short time for preparation, Qatar are hoping to attain full readiness as they host Kuwait in the first leg of their FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 joint qualifiers at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium tomorrow.

The team, which will return to action for the first time since retaining their Asian Cup crown last month, held a training session at Aspire Academy training pitch yesterday after head coach Marquez Lopez announced the 25-man squad for the double-header against Kuwait on Monday. Qatar’s away match against Kuwait is scheduled on March 26.

With Hassan Al Haydos retired from international football, Qatar will also miss goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb and defender Pedro Miguel due to injury while Boualem Khoukhi, who was also the part of Asian Cup winning squad, is also not present in the team for the two matches.

Qatar won seven straight matches to claim back-to-back Asian titles beating Jordan 3-1 in the final on February 10. Al Annabi also claimed two consecutive victories to start their campaign in the second round of Preliminary Joint Qualification campaign on a flying note, beating Afghanistan 8-1 and India 3-0 in November.

Al Annabi’s fine form helped them jump 21 places to 37th spot in the FIFA rankings last month.

Yesterday, all the players attended the training session with Lopez assessing his players, who were mainly busy with their clubs at the Expo Stars League.

Qatar and Kuwait will hold their final training sessions at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium tonight. Qatar were 2-0 winners when the two sides last met at Gulf Cup in January 2023.

The reigning double Asian champions are leading Group A at the joint qualifiers with six points while India and Kuwait are tied on three points. Afghanistan are on the bottom after losing both their games. Top two teams from each of the nine groups in the second qualifying round will seal their spots in 2027 Asian Cup, besides advancing to the third round of World Cup qualifying.

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