Talismanic midfielder Akram Afif has said that Qatar remain focussed on the task in hand despite a morale boosting 1-0 win over Uzbekistan on the opening day of the AFC U23 Championship 2018.
An Almoez Ali strike gave Qatar a perfect start to their Group A campaign, but with a crunch game to come against regional rivals Oman today, Afif has said that his side should not get carried away by their early success.
“Our team really did well, and it was important to win that game,” explained the 21-year-old, who plays in Belgium for Eupen.
“Yes, we won the game and got the three points, but that doesn’t mean that we have won (the tournament). It’s not enough, and right now we are only looking ahead to playing Oman.”
With Qatar currently occupying second spot, China lead the way at the top the group thanks to their comfortable 3-0 win over Oman, a margin of victory that came as no surprise to Afif.
“China are a very good team,” he said whilst recalling the penalty he scored against the East Asians at the 2014 AFC U-19 Championship in Myanmar.
“No one particular player stands out. They are all very good and they help each other out, and I think they will go far in this tournament.”
Qatar will conclude their group stage matches against China at the Changzhou Olympic Sports Centre on Monday.
Uzbekistan brace for China test
Captain Zabikhillo Urinboev believes Uzbekistan can rectify their poor start when they face China in the second round of Group A matches today.
The 22-year-old Pakhtakor striker was a star performer for his country in Tuesday’s narrow 1-0 loss to Qatar, a result that, combined with China’s 3-0 win over Oman, leaves the Central Asians currently occupying third place in Group A and needing a positive result against the host nation to realistically have any chance of progressing to the quarter-finals.
“After the first matchday results, it is fair to say that we are in a difficult situation,” Uriboev said.
“We are busy preparing for the match against China because they are undoubtedly a strong opponent. Nevertheless, we will, of course, try to improve the current situation in the next game.”
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