Sanchez: We have the highest respect for all of our opponents
Doha: Qatar national team coach Felix Sanchez asserted that his players are aiming for a good start to the FIFA World Cup 2022 – AFC Asian Cup 2023 joint qualifiers, when they host Afghanistan at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium on Thursday.
Addressing the media at the pre-match press conference, Sanchez said: “We are very happy and excited to start our campaign to qualify for the next Asian Cup here at home in front of our fans. Since it is our first match in front of our own fans after winning the Asian Cup, we will do our best to perform well and get maximum points.”
On Afghanistan; an unknown opponent:“At this level, no team comes to an international match with no plans. We know they have studied us and likewise we will find a way to score against an opponent, which we may not know a great deal about. We are well aware of their motivation and will play against them accordingly.”
World Cup logo reveal and its significance:“The unveiling of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ logo is a reminder to us that we are getting closer and closer to the most important football event of the whole world. It (logo reveal) motivates us to do well and intensify our preparations to arrive in the best form in 2022. We want to show the whole world that Qatar has a competitive football team at the highest level.”
QSL’s contribution to the National Team:“We have seen some very entertaining and competitive matches during the first two weeks of the QSL matches. The high level of the domestic league helps the national team greatly. We do not have a great deal of time to spend with players and it is of utmost importance that players join the national team in the most optimum match-fit conditions to give us an opportunity to work on tactical details. The QSL is very important to prepare players for us, a job Qatari clubs do extremely well.”
Opportunity to play younger players against Afghanistan and India:“I do not look at the age of players to form our starting eleven. We will field the best players of our squad against Afghanistan and India. On paper, we may be considered favourites, but I have the highest respect for all of our opponents. We are here to take maximum points and put on a performance that our fans should enjoy. I stress that I will select players based on their form, how they played for their clubs and those who can contribute the most to our cause, which is qualification for the Asian Cup, and in the long run, give a good account of ourselves in the World Cup, regardless of the age of any individual player.”
Legacy of the AFC Asian Cup triumph:“Our AFC Asian Cup victory proved that Qatar has football pedigree. It was a great achievement, the greatest in our football history. It confirmed that we can compete at the highest level in Asia against all top Asian nations. It was a great first step towards performing well in the World Cup. But it happened seven months ago, and we need to look ahead, work very hard and continue our progress. What happened at the Asian Cup was a great example to our players that with dedication and teamwork, we can do great things. We hope to encourage them to reach greater goals.”
Meanwhile, Qatar’s midfield star Assim Madibo remarked that the team is motivated to perform well in their first home game since the Asian Cup and step up their World Cup preparations.
“We are proud that Qatar is hosting the World Cup and that we will be the first generation to represent the country at this grand event,” said Madibo. “We need to work harder and intensify our preparations for the qualifers, which signifies the start of our journey towards the World Cup.”
Madibo also expressed his delight in seeing the World Cup logo unveiled across the globe, saying that such occasions increase the team’s spirit and motivate them to do well and bring laurels to Qatari football.