Sanchez confident Al Annabi will be ready for Qatar 2022
DOHA: Qatar coach Felix Sanchez is confident the players will gain enough experience in the lead-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup to not get overawed at their first finals appearance.
Qatar missed out on qualifying for Russia this summer, ensuring they will make their debut appearance at the tournament when they host the competition in just under five years’ time.
But with a multifaceted plan in place to prepare their players between now and when the finals kick off in November 2022, Spanish coach Sanchez believes the players will be ready.
“We know from history that it’s difficult to qualify for the World Cup,” said Sanchez, who serves as head coach of the country’s senior national team and under-23 side.
“To play in Russia would have been a good experience ahead of the next one, but I’m pretty sure they will have enough knowledge and experience to face this with the right mood to play in this competition.”
Qatar have gone close twice to qualify for World Cup, with their most recent near-miss coming ahead of the 1998 finals when a narrow defeat at the hands of Saudi Arabia cost the nation a place in France.
The country won the Asian Under-19 Championship in 2014 and reached the semi-finals of the Asian Under-23 Championship in both 2016 and 2018, underlining that the development work was bearing fruit.
Sanchez is hoping the experience will begin to pay off when he leads the senior team to the finals of the 2019 Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates as the final drive towards the 2022 World Cup commences.
“We have to push the players to get better and better,” he said.
“In one year there is the Asian Cup in the Emirates, in 2019, and this is another good test to see our players, not the youth but the national team.
“We hope the players are going to keep working hard and this will be a big motivation for them to continue their work.