Riyadh: Qatar find themselves in the relatively easier Group A — alongside hosts Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and minnows Yemen — after the draw for the Gulf Cup that was held in Riyadh on Tuesday.
Kuwait, Iraq, Oman and defending champions UAE are in Group B in the biennial tournament that will be held in Riyadh from November 13 to 26.
Several officials, players and yesteryear stars from the participating nations attended the draws ceremony, which was marked by traditional music and dance performances.
The Gulf Cup will be the first major assignment for Qatar’s Algerian coach Djamel Belmadi, who took charge in March. A fine showing in Riyadh will help Qatar boost their confidence ahead of the gruelling Asian Cup in Australia next January.
Qatar Football Association Vice-President Saud Abdulaziz Al Mohannadi, who attended the draw, said meeting the host nation in the group stage would help Al Annabi break the psychological barrier. “The Gulf Cup and the Asian Cup are two important championships that are coming up. We need to be mentally tough to do well in these competitions. There’s no better way to break the psychological barrier than to meet Saudi and their passionate crowd in the opening match,” he said.