Doha: Drawn with the Netherlands, Senegal and Ecuador, Qatar coach Felix Sanchez has said his team is targeting a strong show in their World Cup debut at home.
Speaking to Spanish newspaper Marca, Sanchez said that the upcoming World Cup is a big challenge for his side, hoping his team to excel in front of home fans.
“We will face teams that have reached the finals of a World Cup, are champions of Africa. Many players are the best in the world in their positions, with World Cup and Champions League experience…. So we know what our role is, we know that we are not favourites but also, within our possibilities, we must set high expectations, high goals, try to compete to the maximum,” he said during the interview.
“In 2019 it was very difficult to think that Qatar could win the Asian Cup and we won it. Obviously, I’m not talking about Qatar winning the World Cup, but competing at a good level against those three teams is our challenge. Then this is football, and you never know what can happen.”
The Spaniard said his team can be dangerous on the counter attacks.
“We have talented players, we try to play as a unit and on the counter we can be dangerous. When we have the ball we try to manage, although we know that against opponents of this level it is very difficult to take the initiative and we will have to adapt because that is the reality. It would be suicide to try to take the initiative if we want to be competitive. We try to be compact defensively, allow the minimum opportunities and be strong in transitions.”
Qatar, who will play tournament’s opening game against Ecuador on November 20, have been preparing for the World Cup in training camps in Spain and Austria since June. The team is currently undergoing a training camp in Marbella, Spain.
“We have had a good preparation program, taking into account that we are Qatar, a small country with little experience, with players who have always played in Qatar, in a minor league. Being able to give them this international experience by playing tournaments like the Gold Cup or Copa America, as well as friendlies, has prepared us, although it will never be the same scenario or the same situation,” he said.
“We try to maintain normality. We already know that there is that pressure, and we don’t have to add to it. We have our routine, we try to isolate ourselves from the noise around us and focus on getting our best performance. It’s difficult because then you go onto the pitch, you see 60,000 people. It’s the first World Cup match and there’s so much expectation that it’s hard, but that experience will help them.”
Sanchez, meanwhile, said fans will enjoy the World Cup in Qatar.
“There is going to be a football atmosphere, because it will be all in the city. I would tell them to enjoy the World Cup and Qatar, most of them are going to get to know a new country, a new city and a new culture. Many times people go to places prejudging, but I hope that when people come they will see the reality of the country and feel comfortable.