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Nov 26 - Dec 8, 2019
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Sanchez expects India to put up a challenge

Qatar confident of earning full points from their second game against an improving opponent, says coach.
Vino9084 Qatar Team
Qatar players at a training session on the eve of their match against India. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

At least from the fans’ point of view, Qatar vs India on Tuesday is the most anticipated game of the group. Qatar coach Felix Sanchez, riding a wave of success in recent times, said he expected the match to be a challenging affair, despite the gulf in standards and ranking between the two teams.

“We’re ready for India, it’ll be a challenging game as every one needs points. We too are on the look out for points and hope for a good performance to win those points,” said Sanchez on Monday.

Qatar defeated Afghanistan 6-0 in the first match while India conceded two late goals to suffer a 1-2 defeat against Oman after being in the lead for most part.

Sanchez acknowledged India had made progress.

“Obviously, we’ve analysed their games in the recent past. They have new staff (coaches) and their game also has undergone some changes. We respect the team, it’ll be a tough game, but we’re also confident of producing a good game,” said the Spaniard.

Asked about the lessons the Group E teams like India and Afghanistan could take home from Qatar, Sanchez said it was about preparation and the quality of players at his disposal.

“We’ve been preparing for a long time, but the most important factor is the quality of players we have. That’s why we’re doing well. We’re working very hard to keep improving, to be able to compete well at the 2022 World Cup. The players are also motivated to perform,” he said.

Sanchez said the focus will be to play to their strengths.

“We’re not planning anything new. We’ll play to our strengths and we’ll select the right players to do that. Hopefully, we’ll be able to play at a good level to achieve our goal,” he said.

India Football Training
Indian team at a practice session on the eve of their match against Qatar. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

In contrast to Qatar, India stuttered in pursuit of their goals, pegging them firmly back. Coach Igor Stimac acknowledged Qatar’s superiority and said it was hard to find weak points in the home team’s armour.

“They’re physically good, play brilliant football and they’ve enough experience. In fact, they’re good enough to compete with European teams,” said the Croat, who had coached Qatar Stars League club Al Shahania for a brief period two years ago.

“But we go in with a positive mindset. I know the team well and during my time with Al Shahania, we drew with Al Sadd, who had many of the Qatar players in their ranks. That had upset Sadd’s title challenge then and tells us that in football, anything is possible,” he said.

Stimac said India’s first target was to earn a spot in the Asian Cup finals.

“Qatar and Oman are at a different level but if we can do well against Bangladesh and Afghanistan and achieve something good against Oman (in the away game), we can eye a spot in the next phase of World Cup qualifying,” he said.