Qatar coach Sanchez backs young squad ahead of AFC Asian Cup opener vs Lebanon
When the Qatar team opens their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup campaign in Abu Dhabi today, they will be looking to prove a point.
With the tournament being one of the last significant events before Qatar hosts the 2022 FIFA World Cup, all eyes will be on the team to deliver.
Qatar is set to open their campaign in Group E against Lebanon, at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain today. Spaniard Felix Sanchez, who is coaching the team, felt his boys could match up to the best teams in Asia, reported Gulf Times.
Sanchez’s squad is one of the most youthful among the 24 nations represented at the tournament, with seven of the players who have travelled to the United Arab Emirates having graduated from the side that won the 2014 AFC U19 Championship in Myanmar.
Sanchez believes the AFC Asian Cup is a perfect proving ground for his players.
“There’s a group of players that played in (AFC U-19 Championship) some years ago and had a good achievement,” said Sanchez, who coached the U-19 team and also worked with the country’s U-23 squad before taking over the senior side.
“We’re going to focus, and we can’t look further than the game against Lebanon because this competition is a few games and you need to be OK in all of them.”
Qatar has twice reached the AFC Asian Cup quarterfinals — in 2000 and on home soil in 2011 — but Sanchez refused to be drawn on his side’s expectations at this year’s tournament as he declared his squad fully fit for the Finals.
“Everyone is fine and ready to play,” he said. “We know Lebanon. We saw them playing, we know their strengths, and we know it’ll be a hard game, and we’re only focused on that,” he said.
Lebanon will be appearing at the AFC Asian Cup for the first time since hosting the tournament in 2000.