High-flying Qatar eye win over Afghans
DUSHANBE, Tajikistan: Qatar will be playing to post another confident win against Afghanistan today when the two sides battle for points in their 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup joint qualifier.
The Group E match will be played at Republican Central Stadium with kick-off set for 1200GMT.
Qatar, coached by Felix Sanchez, beat Afghanistan 6-0 after star striker Almoez Ali grabbed a hat-trick in Doha more than two months ago. Captain Hassan Al Haydos, defender Abdel Karim Hassan and Boualem Khoukhi also scored in that encounter.
All the above players will be at coach Sanchez’s disposal when the two sides arrive for the match on neutral soil since Afghanistan can’t host matches in the country.
“We are confident of a good performance. We beat Singapore three days ago and the players are looking confident,” coach Sanchez said yesterday.
“The players have a busy schedule coming up. Qatar has played good football in the last two or three months. We respect Afghanistan,” the Spaniard added.
“We hope to collect maximum points. All the players are fit and raring to go,” the Qatar coach said.
However, Afghanistan return for their second trip to Dushanbe’s Republican Central Stadium in five days after a last-minute goal from Seiminlen Doungel helped India salvage a 1-1 draw last Thursday.
Doungel’s equalizer was a bitter pill to swallow for Afghanistan, who would have been within three points of second-placed Oman coming into Tuesday’s fixtures had they managed to hold on.
As it stands, Anoush Dastgir’s side is now five points behind Oman and six behind Qatar, giving them almost no margin for error coming into the final four matches of this round of the qualification race.
Reigning Asian champions Qatar will also have the services of Akram Afif, who was shortlisted for the AFC Player of the Year award three days ago.
Three days ago, Qatar beat Singapore 2-0 in a friendly match at Al Duhail Stadium in Doha.
Qatar coach Sanchez decided to rest his regular players including forwarding Ali, defender Pedro Miguel, Khoukhi and Tarek Salman, but Mohammed Muntari (32) and an own goal from Shahdan bin Sulaiman (43) saw Qatar post an easy win.
Qatar have played four matches and won three – they have beaten Afghanistan 6-0, Bangladesh 2-0 and Oman 2-1 while playing out a goalless draw against India – to lead Group E with 10 points.
Credit to The Peninsula