By A Correspondent/Kuwait City
Coach Felix Sanchez will be treating Qatar’s third and final Gulf Cup group stage match against Bahrain like a title clash.
A win tomorrow against Bahrain at the Kuwait Sports Club Stadium will secure Qatar a semi-final berth at the Gulf Cup.
Qatar crushed Yemen 4-0 in their opening game at the eight-team event but lost 2-1 against Iraq on Tuesday following an engaging battle.
With three points from two matches, defending champions Qatar are in a must-win situation as are their rivals Bahrain.
“We have a third game in hand. It is like a final for us,” Sanchez said after his side’s match against Iraq. “It depends on us if we want to reach the semi-finals. Of course we will try to play a better game. We need a good result to qualify. We will try harder.
“There are many things to be decided. It will be like a final for sure.”
The Qatar coach said his players won’t take the pressure of a crunch game since such a scenario is often talked about or discussed in team meetings.
“We knew we could be in such a situation before the start of the tournament. The players know it. They are professionals and they are ready to play this kind of a game. They will give their best,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said disappointing results - like the one on Tuesday night - could happen when a number of key matches are scheduled in a short time.
“This is a short tournament. Every team plays a few games in a very short period of time,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said he opted for changes in team tactics against Iraq since key Qatar midfielder Asim Madibo suffered a back injury in the clash against Yemen.
“We needed to make some changes because Asim was not available. That was a tactical change. This way we gave a chance to a fresh player,” Sanchez explained.
“We planned the game with three changes. We will not start our planning for the next game. We have 23 good players in the team and we have many options,” Sanchez said.
The Qatar coach praised Iraq for their resolute tactics that allowed the three-time champions to script a fighting win.
“We tried to push and get that second goal. They used two strikers and it was very difficult for us to stop them. Those strikers were physically very strong. In the second half we tried many things to win. My players did their best. They were pressing hard,” Sanchez said.
When asked about the second Iraqi goal, Sanchez said: “It was a goal where the (Iraq) players were very strong in the crossing. It was a very difficult angle to mark from the second line. We didn’t follow the player (Ali Husny) and he scored a goal. His (Qatar goalkeeper Saad al-Sheeb’s) reaction was that it was a goal and he couldn’t do anything about it. I don’t see anything wrong with that.”
He added: “We need a result. We have to recover the players physically and then we plan for the game. We will now just look at the next game.”
Iraq coach Bassim Qassim was a relieved man after a hard day’s of work.
“It was an important match and I am happy with the way we played,” Bassem said. “It was a difficult match but we fought well,” he added.
“We played a steady game. We were clearly a better side than our first game against Bahrain. The players were able to read the situations well,” Bassem said. “Since we read the situations well, we made changes accordingly on the ground. I thought we had the opportunity to score the third goal but could not get it,” the Iraqi coach said.
“Now we will try to get another win when we play Yemen. We are very confident now,” Bassem said.
“In the first game we played three strikers in front. We did that to surprise Bahrain with our attacking game but against Qatar we played in our normal way and we put pressure continuously,” he said.
Bassem said Iraq fans want the former champions to go all the way and win the title again.
“If we advance, then that will really please our fans. We have reached 50 percent of our target and hopefully we will advance after our match against Yemen,” Bassem said.
“We know we have a difficult task at hand but we are standing our ground to fight every game,” Bassem said.
“Gulf Cup is a different event. It offers a different challenge every match. We knew playing against Yemen and against Qatar would call for varying tactics. That’s how we looked at these matches,” Bassem said.
“There is a big difference the way these two teams play. I know Qatari team still has a great chance of qualifying and reaching the final,” he added.
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
Ganguly elected head of India's troubled cricket board
Al Sadd leave Hilal shell-shocked but miss spot in final
Captain Kohli hails ‘multidimensional’ India after series win
Brexit will boost South African cricket: du Plessis
India leave South Africa hurting with series sweep
QSAF announces transitional measures
World Cup glory counts for nothing now: Silverwood
Bangladesh board lashes out at players over strike action
Wales call up winger Lane to replace injured Navidi