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WC Qualification Asia

2022 World Cup Qualifiers: Know your rivals - Qatar

12:26 PM MYT 08/09/2019
Qatar Asian Cup 2019
The Maroons are flying high after continental success and a terrific start to the qualifiers ...

QUICK FACTS


Country: Qatar

FIFA Ranking: 62

Nickname: The Maroons

Last match played: Qatar 6-0 Afghanistan (September 5, 2019)

Coach: Felix Sanchez


TEAM PROFILE


Qatar will be vying for a place in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, having qualified for the 2022 World Cup as hosts. The defending champions of the Asian Cup are arguably the most dangerous team in the qualifiers across all groups and start as overwhelming favourites against India after a commanding 6-0 win over Afghanistan in the opener on Thursday.

The current era of the Qatari national team is the most successful side in their history. Before their dream run to the summit of Asia earlier this year, Qatar last tasted success in the Gulf Cup back in 2014 under coach Djamel Belmadi.

The Maroons rode on Qasem Burhan’s goalkeeping heroics to win their first Gulf Cup title since 2004. They had also won the WAFF (West Asian Football Federation) Championship in the same year to kick-start their domination in the Gulf region.

However, their triumph in the 2019 Asian Cup will be hailed as the greatest achievement in their history. Qatar were not the favourites in the biggest tournament in Asia but achieved victory after conceding just one goal throughout the tournament – in the final against Japan.

Almoez Ali was awarded the best player award and the golden boot for the nine goals he scored. Having kept six clean-sheets in seven games, Saad Al Sheeb was the natural choice for the best goalkeeper award.

Qatar have already qualified as hosts for the 2022 World Cup and this will be their first appearance in the final stage of the biggest tournament in the world. But given they need to follow the same route for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, the Maroons will be eager to build on their flawless opener and take another step towards topping the group.


RECENT PERFORMANCES


The Asian Cup title placed Qatar on the pedestal of Asia and this attracted friendlies against some top teams. Last year, they were invited along with eventual Asian Cup finalists Japan as guest nations in the 2019 Copa America.

This meant that Qatar have faced some top teams in the last few months. In June, the Maroons were defeated 2-0 by a full-strength Brazil squad at the Estadio Mane Garrincha in Brazil. The visitors put in a good fight before succumbing to defeat after conceding two early goals.

Qatar were drawn alongside Paraguay, Colombia and Argentina in Group B of the Copa America. They fought hard to earn a point in an exciting 2-2 draw against Paraguay before facing a narrow 1-0 defeat against group leaders Colombia.

Their last test of the tournament was against a Lionel Messi-led Argentina desperate for a win after a poor start in the group stage. La Albiceleste emerged 2-0 winners to eliminate Qatar from Copa America.

Felix Sanchez’s next assignment with the national team arrived last Wednesday in the opener of the qualifiers against Afghanistan. The hosts smashed six past them, thanks to a hat-trick by Almoez Ali.


LESSONS FROM THE PAST


India have faced Qatar just twice before – in the 1998 World Cup qualifiers in 1996 and a practice game in 2011. India were humiliated 6-0 in the first encounter with Mubarak Mostafa Fazli, Mahmoud Yaseen Soufi, Waleed Bakhit Maayof, Zamal Issa Al Kuwari getting their names on the score-sheet after Mohamed Salem Al Enazi opened with a brace.

However, the Blue Tigers emerged victorious in the practice  game held in 2011 in Doha. Sunil Chhetri and Sushil Singh scored once against Mohammed Razak’s lone goal for Qatar to record a 2-1 win.

H-H GAMES INDIA WINS DRAWS QATAR WINS GOALS (INDIA) GOALS (QATAR) GD (INDIA) WIN % (INDIA)
Vs Qatar 2 1 0 1 2 7 -5 50

TEAM COMBINATION


Felix Sanchez is a student of the Barcelona school of thought, having spent his developmental years as a coach in the youth divisions. He played a crucial role in in modelling footballers like Sergi Roberto and Gerard Deulofeu.

The 43-year-old then joined the Aspire Academy in Qatar in 2012 and started building the core for the current generation of players. Most players have hence played together for a while now and are great at linking up and playing quick-passes.

Sanchez prefers a 4-3-3 formation with Almoez Ali leading the front-line. Qatar are expected to keep more possession, create more chances and are also lethal on the counter.


PLAYERS TO WATCH


Almoez Ali: Qatar’s hero from the Asian Cup will look to build on his hat-trick against Afghanistan and continue his wonderful goal-scoring form. The 23-year-old boasts of European experience, having plied trades for Austrian club LASK Linz before creating history with Cultural Leonesa by becoming the first Qatari player to score in a Spanish league.

At just 23, Ali is only getting better with each game and the hat-trick against Afghanistan should come as a warning for the Indian defensive duo of Sandesh Jhingan and Adil Khan.

Saad Al Sheeb: Qatari goal-keeper Al Sheeb is yet another player to keep an eye on. The Al Sadd custodian was at his peak in the Asian Cup, walking away with the Golden Glove. He also started the qualifiers with a clean-sheet against Afghanistan.

In all likelihood, India will create fewer chances than Qatar. The Blue Tigers must hence increase their efficiency to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the hosts. But with Al Sheeb between the posts, this should appear a herculean task.


FULL SQUAD


POSITION QATAR SQUAD FOR WORLD CUP QUALIFIER
GOALKEEPERS Saad Sheeb, Meshal Barsham, Mohammed Al-Bakri,
DEFENDERS Pedro, Tareq Salman, Abdulkarim Hassan, Boualem Khoukhi, Bassam Al-Rawl, Musaab Keder, Al Mahdi Ali
MIDFIELDERS

Salem Al-Hajri, Assim Madibo, Karim Boudiaf (injured), Ahmed Fathy, Abdulaziz Hatim, Abdullah Abdul Salam

FORWARDS Hassan Al-Haydos, Akram Afif, Abdulaziz Al-Ansari, Hashim Ali, Almoez Ali, Ali Afif, Ahmed Alaaeldin