Qatar’s head coach Felix Sanchez said he and his players can’t wait to take the field on Sunday in the FIFA World Cup opener against Ecuador. The decade-long dream of Qatari players will come alive at the Al Bayt Stadium as the tournament hosts make their World Cup debut.
For Sanchez and his men, the last few years has been all about preparing for the football showpiece event at home. That they won the maiden Asian Cup title in 2019, was a reward of their careful planning and hard work. Now the Al Annabi are ready for a World Cup battle, backed by their passionate fans.
“We waited for a long time to get to this event. Obviously, everyone is looking forward to the tournament,” Sanchez told beIN Sports yesterday. “We feel proud to be part of the event and we will try to do our best, play at a high level and compete with the teams we will face,” the Spaniard added.
The 46-year-old, who arrived in Qatar in 2006 to join the Aspire Academy, has coached at various levels in the Gulf State. “In 2019, it was difficult to imagine that we would win the Asian Cup, but we won the title. I am not talking about whether we will become world champions, but certainly our goal is to compete at the top levels,” said Sanchez, who will also face European heavyweights the Netherlands and African champions Senegal in Group A.
“We are facing teams that have previously participated in the World Cup, or were crowned as African champions, and they include a number of the best players in the world. They have experience playing in the World Cup or the Champions League,” he added.
The Qatar squad continued their training at the Aspire Academy training pitch yesterday. The players had arrived home from Spain on Monday after a month-long training camp, where they also played friendlies with lowly-ranked teams.
Meanwhile, Qatari players echoed Sanchez’s sentiments saying they were thrilled at playing at the World Cup. Goalkeeper Saad al-Sheeb said: “We are very proud to be representing our country in this prestigious tournament. The team is excited and ready and God willing, we will put up a good show.”
Defender Bassam al-Rawi said: “These are exciting times for us and the fans. Everybody is excited before the first match and we are looking forward to a good show.”
Midfielder Abdelaziz Hatim said the team is in best shape to take part in the tournament. “We have prepared well and our spirits are high. We are having fun. We are relishing this time as the World Cup approaches. I think every one of us is very proud of that,” he said.
Qatar’s Spanish coach Felix Sanchez leads a training session at the Aspire Academy training pitch in Doha yesterday. (AFP)
Qatar’s players attend a training session, ahead of their World Cup opener against Ecuador. (AFP)