Doha (Qatar) (AFP) – Middle Eastern emirate Qatar will play in the 2019 Copa America in Brazil after accepting an invitation to take part, a football association spokesman in Doha said on Thursday.
“Qatar will play in the 2019 Copa America, it’s a great opportunity for us to participate in such a tournament,” the spokesman told AFP.
The invitation was accepted by Qatar Football Association president Hamad Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmed Al-Thani, who is in Argentina attending the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) congress, added the spokesman.
The 2022 World Cup hosts are one of six non-South American sides expected to take part in the tournament in June and July 2019.
China, Japan, Mexico and two other countries could also join South American giants including Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, to push tournament numbers up to 16.
South American governing body CONMEBOL announced last month that three teams from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), in which Qatar play, will be invited along with three other nations from either the rest of the Americas or the Caribbean.
Earlier this week, Qatar national team coach, Spaniard Felix Sanchez, said playing in the Copa America would be “a great experience to face the top international teams in the world”.
Qatar are desperate for competitive matches before hosting the World Cup in four years’ time.
Eight different non-South American countries have been invited to play in previous Copa Americas.
Qatar were previously invited to play in the 2011 Copa America, but could not take part because of prior commitments, say officials.
Also on Thursday, CONMEBOL formally asked FIFA to expand the 2022 World Cup to 48 from 32 teams in time for the tournament in Qatar.