The Qatari national football team played its first-ever Copa America game on Sunday against Paraguay in Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Maracanã Stadium. Qatar participates in the South American championship, currently being held in Brazil, as one of the two guest teams invited, alongside with Japan.
Paraguay took on an early lead with a penalty scored by Óscar Cardozo in the 4th minute, then secured its lead early in the second half with a long-range shot by Derlis González. However, the 2019 Asian Cup champions fought back from a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2. Almoez Ali scored Qatar’s first goal from a long-range strike in the 68th minute. The equalizing goal came 9 minutes later from Boualem Khoukhi’s close shot that went in from a Paraguayan defender.
“We dominated the game in several phases and despite being 2-0 down the team never stopped believing,” said Qatar’s Spanish manager Felix Sanchez
Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Copa America provides a great opportunity for Qatar to prepare, as they play against highly ranked opponents in the prestigious tournament. Qatar is currently 55th on the FIFA World Ranking while Paraguay is ranked 36th. The two other members of Group B, Argentina and Colombia are ranked as 11th and 13th best national teams in the world. Qatar will play against Colombia on Wednesday and face Argentina on Sunday.
(Cover Image: Aspire Academy )