African powerhouses Egypt and Algeria were drawn in the same group on Tuesday for the inaugural Arab Cup, an event which will take place in December and serve as a dress rehearsal for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The tournament will start on 1 December with the final to be held on 18 December, exactly one year before the 2022 World Cup final. The date also marks Qatar’s national day. The Arab Cup will be played in six venues in Qatar, all developed and built for the 2022 World Cup, two fewer than will be used for next year’s showpiece event. The draw, which took place in a sparsely-attended Katara Opera House in Doha to adhere to covid-19 protocols, separated teams into four groups of four, with the lowest ranked of the competitors having to qualify to reach the group stages. The tournament will be contested by 23 Arab countries belonging to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the Confederation of African Football (CAF). Egypt, African Cup of Nations champions seven times, will play Algeria, who won their second title in Egypt in 2019, and the winner of Lebanon’s qualifier against Djibouti, while Libya face Sudan for the last spot in the group. Hosts Qatar take on Iraq, the winner of Oman’s clash with Somalia, and the victor of Bahrain’s qualifier against Kuwait. The FIFA Confederations Cup, which normally acts as the World Cup prelude, will not happen this time around.