The tenth edition of the Arab Cup kicked off on November 30th of 2021, the 2021 Arab Cup is the first time FIFA has organized the competition as the now branded, FIFA Arab Cup. The competition’s hosting country was Qatar, who are also in preparations for the 2022 World Cup which they will be hosting as well.
Before the tournament kicked off, eyes were on Morocco who are the defending champions, having had won the last tournament in 2012.
This edition of the tournament featured a total of 16 teams, all divided into four groups, which meant all teams will play a base of 3 games in each group. Leaving only the two teams from each group to advance further into the tournament's quarter-finals.
The groups for the tournament were as follows :
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
The quarter-finals then featured the fixtures of Tunisia defeating Oman by 2-1, Qatar slamming the United Arab Emirates with 5 goals with UAE unable to respond with any goals. The third fixture in the quarterfinals finished with Egypt defeating Jordan 3-1 and lastly was Algeria vs Morocco the deciding factor of this game was not the full minutes or the additional 30-minute extra time and a 2-2 tie to penalties that Algeria won 5-3 on.
The semi-finals were where viewers all around the world got to witness the beauty of football that can be found outside of the Euro’s, the Nation League and the Copa America. The semi-finals showcased the evidence of there being a strong future ahead for all the teams in the Arab Cup.
The first semi-final was held in Doha Qatar Stadium 974 where Tunisia faced a difficult match against Egypt, yet pushed their countries dreams into making it into the final through a header own goal by Egyptian captain Amro Elsoulia in the 95 minute of injury time.
The second semi-final fixture of Algeria vs host country Qatar also took place in the city of Doha just in the Al Thumama Stadium. This matchup was close on both sides of the playing field, Algeria opened the scoring first with defender Djamel Benlamri heading the ball into the back of the net. Qatar held onto its dream into making it into the final thanks to Mohammed Muntari who scored a late equalizer. In the final minutes of injury time, Algeria’s Youcef Belaili scored a goal to send the 2019 African cup of nations defenders to their first-ever Arab Cup finals to take on Tunisia.
Before the finals took place, the 3rd place matchup of Qatar and Egypt was located at Stadium 974, the game went onto penalties where host country Qatar won 5-4 on. Securing a third place for the country.
At the Al Bayt Stadium, Tunisia and Algeria took to the stage to fight for the title of the FIFA Arab Cup, the tenth edition of the tournament's kind. 90 minutes finished scoreless for both sides which meant an additional 30 minutes would be added to decide who will be the champions.
It was Algeria’s substitute Amir Sayoud who took matters into his hands and scored a glorious strike past the Tunisian goalkeeper and into the top left of the net to put Algeria one step closer to being champions
To secure the title for Algeria was a goal from Yacine Brahimi, who scored into the empty net in the final minutes of the second 15 minute half in the additional 30 minutes of extra time to seal the night for Algeria and crown them their first-ever Arab Cup title.
The tournament without a doubt featured multiple goals, even own goals at times, yet the goal of the tournament comes from champions Algeria’s Youcef Belaili, who scored a rocket in the quarter-finals against Morocco.
As stated above, the semi-finals showed the world the beauty of the Arab Cup, but all in all the whole tournament showed the great future this tournament has and can be as it shed some light on a couple of bright rising footballing stars in this tournament. Who a few, if not many, maybe be able to continue this beautiful game of football in the upcoming 2022 World Cup. The tenth edition of the FIFA Arab Cup and its first time being organized by FIFA, not only shows the promising future for the game of football in the Arab Cup, but it splashes a hint of spirit towards the upcoming 2022 Men’s World Cup in Qatar.