KEIR RADNEDGE REPORT: The national team of Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup finals, will ‘fill in’ a slot in the European qualifying competition to help prepare for the tournament.

Qatar, in two years’ time, will be first host never to have played previously in the finals since Uruguay at the inaugural tournament in 1930 and Italy four years later.

They will take up a vacant slot in the European Group A qualifying schedule between March and November next year. All the ‘home and away’ matches against Portugal, Serbia, the Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan are likely to be played in Europe and be counted as mere international friendlies.

Group A is one of five five-team mini-leagues,. The remaining five groups comprised six nations each. This is the only five-team section not featuring any of the four UEFA Nations League finalists.

The financial and broadcast relationship between world federation FIFA and European governing body with the Qatari beIN Media group will have eased negotiations.

Qatar, who qualified automatically for 2022 as host nation, are the current Asian champions. However concerns have been expressed, even since the controversial finals award in 2010, about the national team’s lack of competitive international experience down the years.

The pursuit of international match practice will also include competitive appearances in next year’s Copa America and the central/north American CONCACAF Gold Cup.