The former Spanish international has tipped Qatar to win the tournament.
Spanish midfield maestro and former FC Barcelona man, Xavi recently came out with his AFC Asian Cup predictions on Qatari news channel Al Kass. The tournament starts on 5th January, with the hosts United Arab Emirates taking on Bahrain.
Xavi who has been a household name in Spain over the years shifted to Qatari side Al Sadd in the twilight of his career. However, he has been pretty decent for his new side scoring 20 goals in 74 appearances.
Xavi’s prediction did stir a lot of buzz on social media, especially among Indian football fans. The Spanish World Cup winner has predicted the Indian national team to finish bottom of their group with the UAE and Thailand qualifying and Bahrain ending up in third position.
India are in Group A, clubbed with hosts UAE, Thailand and Bahrain. The Blue Tigers start their campaign on 6th January against Thailand, followed by a game against the UAE on 10th and lastly Bahrain on 14th January. This is only the fourth time the national team have qualified for the biggest footballing event in the continent, with their last outing coming in 2011 in Qatar.
Xavi’s quarterfinalists include Syria, Japan, China, Iran, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Korea Republic and Qatar. The 38-year has put his money on Qatar to win the coveted title, beating Asian powerhouses Australia and Japan in the semi-final and final respectively.
Qatar have been drawn in Group E alongside Korea DPR, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. The Maroons will start their campaign on 9th January against Lebanon, followed by Korea DPR on 13th, before rounding off the group stage with their last match against Saudi Arabia on the 17th of January.
According to him Japan’s route to the finale will include beating the likes of Syria in the quarterfinals and mighty Iran in the semis.
Xavi has been an important figure in Qatar and with the 2022 World Cup coming up, the former Barcelona man has been working as the global ambassador for the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy. It the organisation which is looking after the infrastructural work for the first ever World Cup to take place in an Arab country.
The midfielder has claimed that he would like to take up coaching once he has hung up his boots and there is speculation that he might start his new journey with the Qatar national team going into the FIFA World Cup 2022.