Bassam al-Rawi has said that Qatar cannot afford to relax despite Friday’s 1-0 win over Oman putting them in a commanding position at the top of the AFC U23 Championship 2018 Group A standings.
The hard-fought victory, coupled with Qatar’s earlier defeat of Uzbekistan by a similar scoreline, leaves Felix Sanchez’s boys flying high at the summit and within touching distance of a place in the quarter-finals.
However, despite his side’s fine run of form, and with a final group stage game still to come against China on Monday, al-Rawi insists that nothing has been achieved just yet.
“We played well versus Oman, we gave our best and we got the three points,” said the talented
Al Duhail defender who was a member of the Qatar squad at the 2016 edition of the AFC U23 Championship.
“At this stage (of the tournament), we always play to win and to get those all-important three points.
“We have six points, but that doesn’t mean we have qualified. We need to take three points against China.”
China began their AFC U23 Championship campaign in style courtesy of a comprehensive 3-0 win over Oman, but were subsequently beaten by Uzbekistan on Matchday Two.
Whilst recognising the size of the task that awaits Qatar when they face China, Al Rawi is optimistic of his side’s chances at the Changzhou Olympic Sports Center.
“It is going to be a difficult game, especially as we are playing at their home ground,” he explained.
“There might be a full stadium, and I think it’s going to be a difficult for us to win, but we can do it.
“We are feeling confident and we will always go for the win.”
Meanwhile, Uzbekistan defender Khojiakbar Alijonov has hailed his side’s mental resilience following Friday’s crucial 1-0 win over host nation China PR at the AFC U23 Championship 2018.
The 20-year-old struck early in the first half at the Changzhou Olympic Sports Centre to seal all three points for the Central Asians and revitalise their chances of qualifying for the quarter-finals following a 1-0 defeat to Qatar on Matchday One.
“Before the match, I think we were in a difficult situation in the group,” admitted the Pakhtakor left-back who featured for his country at the 2016 AFC U-19 Championship.
“But, we worked on our mental approach. Some players just weren’t ready (for the first match).
“The coach told us before the game that we must play to the best of our ability against China because they are the most dangerous team in our group.”
Whilst delighted to have scored against China, Alijonov insists that the result was all that mattered ahead of the Oman game when a win would see Uzbekistan through to the last eight.
“It was a normal feeling for me as a player to score the goal, but what mattered most was the result.
“It’s always important to score goals but results must always come first.
“We’re not thinking about our match against Oman now, the coach told us that we will rest for a day and will begin preparation the following day.”
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