Confident Qatar begin campaign against Sri Lanka
Former champions look to top Group B and earn a berth in AFC Under-19 Championships in Uzbekistan.
Former champions Qatar will launch their quest to return to the summit in Asia when they take on Sri Lanka in their first match of the AFC Under-19 Championship 2020 qualifiers at the Aspire Academy ground on Wednesday.
GROUP B FIXTURES
|Nov 6||Yemen vs Turkmenistan (5.10 pm); Qatar vs Sri Lanka (7.20 pm).|
|Nov 8||Sri Lanka vs Yemen (5.10 pm); Turkmenistan vs Qatar (7.20 pm)|
|Nov 10||Turkmenistan vs Sri Lanka (5.10 pm); Qatar vs Yemen (7.20 pm).|
|All matches at Aspire Academy grounds.|
Qatar won their only AFC Under-19 title in 2014 and were semifinalists two years ago in Indonesia. Uzbekistan will host the final rounds of the 2020 tournament and Qatar will be looking to seal a spot there as Group B toppers in Doha.
Turkmenistan and Yemen are the other two sides in Group B, with the matches set to continue until Sunday.
The 25 participating nations have been divided into 11 groups, with group winners securing direct qualification to the final rounds. The four best runners-up teams will also advance. Should hosts Uzbekistan finish on top of their group, or are among the best second-placed teams, the fifth-best runners-up will qualify.
Qatar coach Fabio Cesar said his boys had been hard at work to come through the qualifiers. “That’s very much our goal. Qatar have been doing well at various levels – senior, under-23 and under-16. Now it’s our chance,” he said.
After the opening game against Sri Lanka, Qatar will meet Turkmenistan on Friday, followed by the match against Yemen on Sunday. Cesar said he would not take any rivals lightly.
“I expect tough matches as the other teams also have the same goal. In football, there’re no easy games. So we’ve to be at the top of our game and take each match seriously to qualify,” he said.
Qatar’s preparations started in July, but it has not been smooth sailing as they bowed out early from the West Asia Championships in Palestine back in August. They have been playing friendly games since then, and Cesar said the team had shaped up well.
“Our preparations have been good. I hope we can transfer that into actual game situations,” he said.
Cesar said Yemen could pose a stiff challenge to his boys. “I don’t know much about Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka, but Yemen could be a tough opponent,” he said.
Yemen coach Amin Ali, on his part, felt Qatar, being the hosts, held the advantage. “Everyone knows the situation in Yemen. So our preparations started only in September. But we still hope to do well,” he said.