Star striker Ali urges ‘complete focus’ for semi-final
CHANGZHOU: Qatar’s star striker Almoez Ali has urged his team mates to give their best in their AFC U-23 Asian Cup semi-finals on Tuesday, saying the players must have ‘complete focus’ on the last-four clash.
On Friday, Ali struck twice (32 and 34) while team mate Hashim Ali (53) became the youngest player to score a goal in the U-23 tournament as Qatar beat Palestine 3-2 to seal their semi-finals berth.
Palestine tried to come back into the match through Oday Dabbagh (60) and Mohamed Darwish (87) but Qatar survived the nervy last few minutes.
“It is a satisfying result for us,” Ali said on Saturday.
“Although we won but we need to stay focused throughout the 90 minutes of a match,. We must have complete focus, in the semi-final,” he urged. “Thank God for the victory. Palestine played well but overall we stood out because of our spirit. We managed to win adopting a step-by-step policy,” he said.
“Clearly we were the more determined side out of the two teams in the quarter-finals,” the star Qatari forward said.
“We are delighted to have won our quarter-final. The win is a very important step in our journey in this tournament. The 3-2 win gives us a great boost as we prepare for the semi-finals stage. Like I said, we will be going step-by-step,” he added.
“Now we will start focusing on the semi-final because it will be very different from the previous matches.I hope we continue in the same way so that we don’t give up until the last minute,” the striker said.
Goalkeeper Mohammed Al Bakari said his team ‘deserved to win’ the tense clash on Friday.
“We bow our head in thanks to the Almighty. We deserved to win considering the hard work put in. That’s what helped us get the desired result,” Al Bakari said on Saturday.
“The determination from our side against a never-say-die Palestinian team was there for everybody to see, We played spirited football in both the halves. Thank God we managed to hold them well in the later part of the match,” he added.
“There were many opportunities for us to score. We could not exploit those chances but we did impose our style of play for most of the match. I hope we perform even better in the semi-finals as we seek to reach the final,” he added.
In the second semi-final, Uzbekistan will meet South Korea while Qatar wait for the winner from the clash between Iraq and Vietnam.
The 16-team tournament ends on January 27.