Qatar will be making their first ever appearance in football's biggest stage when they host the 2022 World Cup. Being hosts, The Maroons have been granted automatic entry to the tournament and one player who is looking forward to the occasion is Hassan Al-Haydos.
The star striker has amassed over 100 appearances for Qatar. He is still only 27 and will be looking to add more international caps and feature in the 2022 World Cup.
"It’s an honour to represent the national team of Qatar and achieve 100 matches as a player. I thank the officials, the coaches that coached me through my journey with the national team. I will try to do my best for the national team of Qatar until the last minute of my career," he told Goal before adding. "Playing in the World Cup is a dream of every player.
"It is a dream to represent the national team of Qatar in the World Cup. That is a long-term plan though. We also have short-term plans, like I said.
"We need to prepare well for the Asian Cup next year. We know it’s not going to be easy but we are currently focussing on the Asian Cup. We will take it step by step and eventually target the World Cup."
The 2014 Best Qatari Player award-winner also praised the approach of current national team coach Felix Sanchez Bas who is moulding a youthful squad for the World Cup.
"From the first day since Felix was appointed as coach, he’s been trying to transfer his philosophy. As you can see, we have a young generation of players. The average age of our players is less.I’m really happy that I’m a part of his plans. As you can see, we have a great team. Coach Felix is doing his best to build this young team for the World Cup."
On Friday, he scored as Qatar beat Ecuador 4-3, affirming his status as a key figure in Felix Sanchez's plans.
Qatar's best finish at the Asian Cup came in 2011 when they reached the quarter-finals. Al-Haydos was a part of that team and is now looking to better that showing in UAE next year.
"It won’t be an easy competition but we are very ambitious players. We don’t want to just qualify for the second round but win the trophy itself. We have to focus. We have to study our opponents. We have to think carefully, step by step. Then we can achieve what we want to achieve. Other than that, it will be hard for us. We have to work hard and give it our maximum."
Al-Haydos is also a key member of Qatar Stars League (QSL) outfit Al Sadd SC who are currently in the semifinals of the AFC Champions League where they will face Iran's Persepolis. Though he has tasted success in the tournament in the past, the forward wants to win it again.
"We know that we are up against Persepolis and their fans. It is not easy but we won’t give up easily. We are on a long journey to achieve something and it won’t be easy for them to win. We will try our best to qualify for the finals. To play in the Champions League finals is any player’s dream. To win the trophy is a dream and I want to have it again."
Al-Haydos has played for Al Sadd right from his youth career, earning a reputation as a one-club man despite his stellar career. He has played alongside legends such as Real Madrid star Raul and Barcelona great Xavi Hernandez who is still at the club.
"I am playing for one of the greatest clubs in Asia and I’m happy to represent this team. If there is a good offer to play abroad, I will definitely consider it. But I’m happy to represent Al Sadd," he professed.
Al-Haydos goes on to state that he has learnt a lot from Xavi who he thinks is in a league of his own.
"Playing with Xavi is surely good for my career. I have played with Raul before but Xavi is on a different level. The way he plays, moves, thinks and the motivation he provides is different from any other player. If we are not able to learn from Xavi, we are very bad players. I hope that when he retires in the future, he becomes one of our coaches so that we can learn more and more from him."