NEW YORK – The Columbia men’s soccer team has been invited as the guests of the Embassy of Qatar for an educational, cultural, and athletic visit from March 9-18.

This is an opportunity for the students to enrich their educational experience at Columbia by traveling to Doha and engaging with their counterparts in Qatar.

The Lions depart Friday, March 9 and arrive in Doha the following evening.

On Tuesday, March 13, Columbia plays its first match against the Al Sadd Football Team B. On Thursday, the Lions take the pitch against the Aspire Under-18 football team, which competed at the Al Kass International Cup. The Lions also will play the Qatar U-19/U-23 national team Saturday, March 17.

“I want to thank the Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the United States, H.E. Sheikh Meshal Bin Hamad Al Thani, as well as Ms. Sara Al Saadi, head of the Embassy’s Public Diplomacy office, for organizing what I’m sure will be a very informative and enjoyable program,” Columbia head coach Kevin Anderson said. “We are thrilled for the opportunity to visit Doha as we firmly believe that it is only through the exchange of ideas and values that we advance global citizenship and create the closest possible connections between people.”

“I also want to thank my dear friend and Columbia University men’s soccer alum Hisham Elkoustaf, the senior advisor to the ambassador of Qatar to the United States for making this all possible. His dedicated and heartfelt work to make this opportunity available to us is amazing”

The Lions are coming off of two successful seasons, capturing the Ivy League championship in 2016, before returning to the NCAA Division I tournament in 2017. Columbia won its first match at the NCAA tournament since 1990, ending the season at 12-3-3. The 2017 season marked the third consecutive 10-win season for the program, and saw the team ranked as high as No. 13 in the nation.

Seven players were named All-Ivy League last fall, highlighted by All-Region honorees Alex Bangerl, Dylan Castanheira, Vana Markarian and Arthur Bosua, who also was named a second team All-American and a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist.