Doha (AFP) – Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani admitted Monday that Qatar’s inclusion among teams in this year’s Copa America was a “surprise” but backed the Gulf state’s first ever tournament appearance.
The 31-year-old, who plays for Qatari-owned French champions Paris Saint-Germain, said allowing the World Cup 2022 host in to South America’s biggest international competition could prove “special”.
“To have Qatar is a surprise and I think it is going to be something very nice,” the Uruguay striker said to reporters at PSG’s winter training camp in Doha.
“To have a team from this continent at the Copa America, it’s something very special to bring a new culture and to mix with the South Americans.”
The 2019 tournament will take place in Brazil in June and July this year.
It was announced in May that Qatar would be one of the 12 teams taking part. Japan have also been invited.
The same month it was also announced that Qatar’s state-owned airline, Qatar Airways, would be the shirt sponsor of arguably South America’s biggest club side, Boca Juniors of Argentina.
Qatar Airways has subsequently also become the official “global airline partner” of CONMEBOL, the South American football confederation.
Uruguay are the nation with the most Copa America titles, 15, and Cavani said there was a real possibility they could win again.
“We have very good chances, we have been playing very well in recent years and had a good competition in Russia,” he said.
“Historically, Uruguay is a team smart enough to have won it the most times.
“This, I think, gives prestige to Uruguay in this competition.”
The draw for the event takes place on January 24.