Qatar ready for Iraq’s physical style of play
December 26 2017 12:15 AM
Qatar coach Felix Sanchez guides a training session in Kuwait yesterday.

By a correspondent Kuwait City

Gulf Cup champions Qatar are expecting a feisty encounter against three-time winners Iraq today, knowing that they have a liking for the physical game.
Qatar coach Felix Sanchez, who guided his team to a convincing 4-0 win over Yemen in their Group B opener on Saturday, said his players would also play aggressively in a bid to go all out for points at Kuwait Sports Club Stadium. On Saturday, Iraq produced a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Bahrain in another Group B clash at the same venue. “Iraq is a good team in all aspects – tactical and physical. It will be very demanding for us from a physical point of view but we are ready for this important game,” Sanchez said yesterday.
“I think they play in a different style (compared to Yemen). We have already forgotten the first game. It is a short tournament. You don’t have much time to think,” Sanchez said.
“Now we play Iraq who have talented players in different positions in the front. They have different ways of playing because they have strong players. They have skillful players in the midfield and the wings. It will be a different game,” Sanchez added.
Sanchez said he had a simple message for his in-form players: go for points! “My message is we are going to play the second game knowing we have points to go after. We are aware of that and we are confident of the possibilities of how well we can do. We have to play a serious game with a lot of concentration.
“We have spent the last two days trying to recover from the first game against Yemen. We’ve had a couple of light sessions to get ready for the Iraq clash. They (the players) are very motivated to play the game on Tuesday. Unfortunately for us (Asim) Madibo has suffered an injury and it is not a good feeling. Hopefully he will recover soon. We have options for this position. We have a strong squad. We have players who can replace him. Tonight we will decide who gets in his place. I think we won’t change the tactics.”
The Spaniard added that getting a winning start on Saturday was a well-deserved result.
“In my opinion it is always a positive thing to start a tournament with a good result. We got
that on Saturday. It is a young team but they are pros and they have good mentality,” Sanchez said.
“The second game is more important than the first one. After this game, we will know if we can quality for the knockout stage of the event. My players also know that and they are ready to go out and play with right mentality.  We watched the Iraq and Bahrain game the other day. It was a game between two equal teams. Both teams played to win. Each team has its own style. For us we have to do well for a win to qualify for the next stage. We have to play very good. We are aware of that,” he said.
Iraqi national team coach Bassem Qassem said his team will be eyeing a win against the might of the defending champions. “I have a strong and organised team but I know that the Qatari team is also organised and well respected by opponents. They are well prepared for this tournament and can go a long way,” Qassem said yesterday.
When asked to comment about his bench-strength, the Iraq coach said: “The presence of the players on the bench is something everyone knows. In the previous match against Bahrain we had five players who had not played for the Iraq team before.”
Qassem said Iraq would adopt an attacking approach against Qatar. “If I get back to Bahrain before the match I will play the same 4-3-3 formula because I know the real problem of my team is the difficulty of getting the goals and therefore we are focused on creating intensity in the offensive line,” Qassem said.
“The Qatari team has its strength in its group and has a good team in all the lines. We have to deal with it as a group and not as individuals,” the coach added. Iraqi defender Ali Fayez said yesterday: “All the players in the squad are ready after we had a tough opening match. The Qatari team is one of the strongest teams in this tournament. They are also the defending champions.”
He added: “We have a decent number of good players. We know that the Iraqi people are waiting for us to win a game.”

Hosts Kuwait bow out of Gulf Cup

Oman defeated Kuwait 1-0, while the UAE and Saudi Arabia played out a 1-1 draw in their Gulf Cup Group A matches in Kuwait yesterday.
With their defeat yesterday, 10-times champions Kuwait have bowed out of the tournament as they lost both their matches so far. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are both one four points having won and drawn a match each.
Earlier in the tournament, Saudi Arabia had beaten Kuwait 2-1, while the UAE prevailed over Oman 1-0.
Yesterday, Oman’s Ahmed Kano scored the only goal of the match from a penalty in the 58th minute to end Kuwait’s semi-final hopes.

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