Coach Sanchez says he is ‘proud’ of the Qatar players
Doha: Coach Felix Sanchez said he regrets that his young Qatari side could not win their semifinal of the Gulf Cup but praised the efforts of the Qatari players.
Saudi Arabia set a date with Bahrain in the final after Abdullah Al Hamdan scored a first-half goal to beat the tournament’s hosts 1-0 on Thursday.
“I congratulate Saudi Arabia and best of luck to them. We dominated the match and dominated the second half, but unfortunately we did not score and we were not accurate in the final touch. We must continue to work for the future,” Sanchez said during the post-match press conference.
“They closed the spaces, attacked us with a team that played with ten defenders in the second half. We had many opportunities from different directions, but we did not succeed in scoring,” the Spaniard said.
Comparing the performance level of Qatar against the Asian Cup and the Gulf Cup, Sanchez said: “The two competitions are different and also the circumstances. Here we created many opportunities against a difficult team that participated in the World Cup and has experience. We did everything in front of them except for scoring goals.”
“We had to speed up the game as the ball was in our possession and the opponent was standing in its territories, but I am proud of the players and the efforts they made. They have implemented the plan that I set.”
Sanchez defended the top scorer of the Asian Cup Almoez Ali who did not find his familiar touch during the home event, by describing him as a highly useful player in the team. However, other teams had plans to restrain him which limited his effectiveness.
Qatar’s newly crowned Asian Player of the Year Akram Afif and the winner of the same award last year, Abdulkarim Hassan, with three goals each, came second in the list of top scorers in this year’s tournament.
Sanchez’s counterpart, Frenchman Herve Renard also praised his players after qualifying for the finals, saying it was a difficult match against Qatar.
“It was a very difficult match and it was not the best performance that we showed. In such games we have to fight and play with high concentration, and this is what happened and we deserved this qualification,” Renard said.
He further commented: “We did what we had on the field and we fought for 90 minutes in high spirit. This does not mean that Qatar lost because they are not good. We were honoured with this competition on the field.”