Felix Sanchez praised his side’s patient approach as Qatar made a winning start to the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 with a 2-0 victory over Lebanon in Al Ain on Wednesday evening, which came courtesy of two goals in the final 25 minutes of the game.
Bassam al-Rawi and Almoez Ali scored for the Gulf side as they joined Saudi Arabia at the top of Group E after the first round of matches, with the pair’s goals capping an assured display in the second period by the Qataris.
Sanchez’s side were made to work for the points against a Lebanon team that was disciplined and well-drilled and the performance of their opponents came as little surprise to the Spanish coach.
Coach Felix Sanchez
“We knew that this scenario could happen in the game,” said Sanchez. “Lebanon is a very competitive team and in every game they lose, they lose only by one goal and it’s difficult to score against them. We knew this would be the scenario.
“They were patient and this was one of the keys. We found the chances and it was good for us to be able to score. There are many games that this will happen in this competition because all the teams are really well prepared and have strength and it’s not easy to achieve good results.”
Al-Rawi’s 65th minute curling free-kick opened the scoring before Ali tapped in from close range to safeguard all three points 11 minutes from time, with Qatar growing in stature as the game progressed.
“The other team was very well organised and many times we reached the last third we were not able to shoot, or they stopped us or we were not able to cross,” said Sanchez.
“In the first half when we got into the last third we needed to finish the action and in the second half the players understood and were able to find gaps and to finish.
“When you start a tournament and play in a game like this, things are more difficult. The opposition was very well organised but the players did very well in the last 30 minutes.”
Lebanon coach Miodrag Radulovic was left frustrated that his team came out of the game with nothing to show for a disciplined display, with the outcome ultimately hinging on Qatar’s opening goal.
“It’s very difficult to play because it’s the first game,” he said. “Lebanon have waited 19 years to play in such a competition and my players don’t have the possibility to play in such a strong competition.”
“I knew how we have to play against Qatar and we closed all the strong points of our opponents.
“When it’s 1-0 it’s totally different. My players lost confidence and it’s very difficult to continue in this kind of game and this is exactly what’s happened. It’s a different game when you score 1-0 on 65 minutes.
“They didn’t have any chances in the first half, the first 60 minutes, and this is exactly how I wanted to play. I’m satisfied with how my players played.”