By Sports Reporter/Doha
Coach Felix Sanchez will hope Qatar can continue its good run in international friendlies as they host Ecuador at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium today. In the two friendlies held in September at home, Qatar had defeated China and Palestine.
Ecuador will pose a bigger challenge to Qatar but Sanchez is hoping they can snatch another morale-boosting win in the build-up to the prestigious Asian Cup early next year. After Ecuador’s match, Qatar will travel to Tashkent to face Uzbekistan in Tashkent on October 16.
Sanchez has announced a balanced team combining youth and experience for the friendlies. The Spaniard has said Qatar’s preparations for the Asian Cup were continuing apace and the friendlies would give him a clearer picture as to the make-up of the squad for the continental event.
“The Asian Cup is a very important tournament for us. We want to be competitive in the tournament and show our rivals what we are capable of,” Sanchez had said last week. “Obviously we want to have our best players in the squad for the Asian Cup and the friendlies are a great opportunity for us to test ourselves,” he added.
Ecuador, who missed out on qualifying for Russia World Cup earlier this year, are physically strong, which will pose a challenge to Qatar players. But Sanchez is hoping his men can raise their level against the South Americans.
Qatar are also scheduled to meet Switzerland and Iceland in friendlies in November, and possibly also Brazil and Iran in March in the build-up to the Copa America in which Al Annabi would be participating for the first time.
Meanwhile, Ecuador’s head coach Hernan Dario Gomez has recalled Carlos Gruezo but there is no place on the roster for Manchester United captain Antonio Valencia. After facing Qatar today, Ecuador head to Oman for another friendly.
Gruezo played in the 2014 FIFA World Cup as a 19-year-old, having only debuted for his nation a month before the tournament in Brazil. Gruezo’s time with La Tri has not been as productive recently. This will be his first call-up in a year, since a 2-0 defeat to Brazil in September 2017 that saw the 23-year-old fail to make it off the bench. His last appearance came in September 2016 in a 1-2 loss to Peru.
Gomez returned to the Ecuador side he coached between 1999 and 2004, having led Panama to this year’s World Cup in Russia.
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