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Qatar 2022 chief ready to prove World Cup doubters wrong

Prepared to be flexible: Hassan Al-Thawadi says Qatar is ready to move the World Cup to winter if asked.
Prepared to be flexible: Hassan Al-Thawadi says Qatar is ready to move the World Cup to winter if asked.
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Dubai's Olympics dream could hinge on success of Qatar 2022FIFA boss Blatter blasts media for attack on Qatar World Cup
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Hassan Al-Thawadi, secretary general of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, says they will prove the doubters wrong by showing why their successful World Cup bid was the “best”.

Ever since the Gulf state was named as host nation for football’s showpiece event three years ago, it has faced a storm of criticism.


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World Cup draw: Holders Spain strangely low on belief

Major threat: Chilean star Alexis Sanchez has the potential to cause Spain a major headache.
Major threat: Chilean star Alexis Sanchez has the potential to cause Spain a major headache.
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World Cup draw: Pain for Spain as Brazil strike it luckyWorld Cup draw: Andy Gray & Richard Keys have their say
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Vicente Del Bosque struggled to disguise his disappointment after seeing his Spain team drawn in a notably tough World Cup group alongside the Netherlands, Chile and Australia.

The reigning champions will begin their title defence with a rematch of the 2010 final against Holland in Salvador, before following up against the dangerous Chileans in Rio and concluding by travelling to Curitiba for an encounter with the unfancied Socceroos.


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World Cup draw: Andy Gray & Richard Keys have their say

Moment of truth: Friday's World Cup draw threw up some interesting match-ups.
Moment of truth: Friday's World Cup draw threw up some interesting match-ups.
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World Cup draw drama a welcome break from other issuesWorld Cup draw: Pain for Spain as Brazil strike it lucky
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The draw for the group stages of the World Cup has thrown up some mouth watering prospects.

Here Andy Gray and Richard Keys, who front Al Jazeera Sport’s English Premier League television coverage, predict who will survive and who will take an early bath.

GROUP A
Brazil
Croatia
Mexico
Cameroon 


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World Cup draw: Pain for Spain as Brazil strike it lucky

World in his hands: Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque at Friday's draw.
World in his hands: Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque at Friday's draw.
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World Cup draw drama a welcome break from other issuesMousa Dembélé interview: Spurred on by EPL & World Cup dream
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Vicente Del Bosque was proved correct after the world champions were drawn to meet Holland in their opening game of next summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

Del Bosque told friends before the draw he expected to be paired against the Oranje – who they beat 1-0 to lift the Jules Rimet trophy in Johannesburg three years ago.

That proved to be the case as Spain were also pooled with Chile and Australia in a tough-looking Group B. La Roja will meet Holland in Salvador on the second day of the tournament.


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Aragones calls time on career

Aragones' last managerial job was Fenerbache in 2009.
Aragones' last managerial job was Fenerbache in 2009.
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Luis Aragones, the man who led Spain to the European Championship title in 2008, has announced his retirement.

During his time the 75 year old managed at ten different clubs during a 35-year coaching career.

The Spaniard is most revered for winning Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland and guiding his country to their first major title since 1964.

Until that now famous 2-0 victory in Vienna, Spain had been regarded as perennial underachievers. 


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Nations await their fate as World Cup draw beckons

Ballers: Michel Salgado (l) and Grafite with the Brazuca – the 2014 World Cup ball.
Ballers: Michel Salgado (l) and Grafite with the Brazuca – the 2014 World Cup ball.
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Pot-luck for Europe in new World Cup draw formatMousa Dembélé interview: Spurred on by EPL & World Cup dream
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All eyes will fall on Costa Do Sauipe this Friday, the idyllic Brazilian resort and venue for the 2014 World Cup draw (start: 20:00, UAE time).

While the teams and their players sit nervously, hoping for a straightforward route to the knockout phases, the world waits in anticipation for mouthwatering ties.

Two teams the rest will want to avoid are hosts Brazil and holders Spain – and the UAE’s footballing fraternity boasts former representatives of both.


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Pot-luck for Europe in new World Cup draw format

World Cup draws closer: The FIFA World Cup & the official ball (Brazuca) inside the Maracana Stadium in Brazil.
World Cup draws closer: The FIFA World Cup & the official ball (Brazuca) inside the Maracana Stadium in Brazil.
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Mousa Dembélé interview: Spurred on by EPL & World Cup dreamUAE could benefit from Platini's '40-team' World Cup
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The group stages at next year’s World Cup in Brazil could be made more difficult for one European team after FIFA yesterday announced a surprise change to the way Friday’s draw will be held.

Under the new, somewhat complicated formula, before the main draw takes place, one of the nine unseeded European teams from Pot Four will be drawn at random and moved to Pot Two.


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Ronaldinho hoping to make Brazil World Cup

Ronaldinho has impressed since joining Atletico Mineiro.
Ronaldinho has impressed since joining Atletico Mineiro.
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VIDEO: Ronaldinho adds Copa Libertadores to trophy haulEngland v Brazil: Ronaldinho relishing return to the world stage
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Ronaldinho remains hopeful that he will gain a place in the Brazil squad for next year’s FIFA World Cup.

The former Barcelona playmaker was part of his country’s team when they lifted the trophy 11 years ago, however he last represented Brazil in a friendly against Chile in April.

Ronaldinho currently plies his trade for Atletico Mineiro in the host nation for next summer’s football extravaganza.


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Scolari: Ronaldo is the best to work with

Ronaldo was pivotal to Portugal as they defeated Sweden to qualify for the World Cup.
Ronaldo was pivotal to Portugal as they defeated Sweden to qualify for the World Cup.
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Bale: No one can rival Ronaldo for Ballon d'Or gloryMessi full of praise for Ballon d'Or rival Ronaldo
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Cristiano Ronaldo is the “best guy in the world” to work with, according to Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari.

The Real Madrid star has often been criticised for his attitude, with many believing it is detrimental to the winger’s hopes of winning the Ballon d’Or.

Scolari, who handed Ronaldo his international debut in 2003 when he was manager of Portugal, has dispelled this notion.

"Everybody speaks nonsense about Cristiano," said Scolari.


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Belounis leaves Qatar after protracted pay dispute

Protesters voice their concerns over Qatar's migrant worker conditions.
Protesters voice their concerns over Qatar's migrant worker conditions.
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FIFA boss Blatter blasts media for attack on Qatar World Cup
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Qatar, the 2022 World Cup hosts, has finally allowed a French footballer to leave after being stuck for 17 months due to a pay dispute with his club, France's ambassador said on Wednesday.

Al-Jaish player Zahir Belounis has obtained an exit visa, which is usually controlled by employers in the Gulf state under its controversial "kafala", or sponsorship system, Ambassador Jean-Christophe Peaucelle said.

"I confirm that Mr. Belounis has received his exit visa and that he will leave Qatar tomorrow to France," Peaucelle said.


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