FIFA Arab Cup 2021 kicks off in Qatar

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Qatar hosts 16 of the best teams in the Arab world, as matches begin 12 months before the World Cup.

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Qatar will host the FIFA Arab Cup 2021, the first to be held in the Middle East, from Tuesday, exactly 12 months before the World Cup 2022.

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

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

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Here’s what you need to know about the tournament:

How many teams are participating?

A total of 16 teams divided into four groups are participating 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 format of the tournament?

Each team plays three group matches, with the top two teams from each group progressing to the quarter-finals on 10 and 11 December.

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

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, the Ras Abu Abu Stadium in the capital Doha and the Al Bayat 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 Transfermark.

The most valuable player by trade value is Egypt’s Mohamed Salah, who plays for Liverpool, 29. Its market value is some $113m.

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

The average age of the player is 27 years. Jordan’s Moataz Yassin is the oldest player at 39 and Moroccan Sami Tlemkani is the youngest at 17.

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