Bangladesh will be the lowest-ranked opponent for Qatar this year out of the 13 matches they have played so far, some of which, involved opponents like Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. Qatar have beaten big Asian teams like South and North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Japan to become unbeaten champions in the Asia Cup.
Regardless of being clear favourites for today’s game, Felix Sanchez, the Spanish coach of Qatar, showed no signs of taking Bangladesh lightly whenever such questions were raised in the pre-match press conference. “There is no favourite and if you want to be a favourite, you need to show it on the pitch.”
Qatar are currently ranked 62nd while Bangladesh ranked 187th in the latest Fifa rankings but it doesn’t matter to Sanchez. “The FIFA ranking is just a paper with numbers and names but you need to perform on the field.”
Sanchez began his coaching career at the Barcelona youth team where he spent a decade until 2006 – the year he moved to Qatar’s state-funded sports academy, Aspire Academy. The 43-year-old has not moved elsewhere since then.
The Spaniard coached the Qatar U-19 national team for four years and the U-23 side for a shorter term before becoming taking the responsibility of the senior side in 2017. Many of the players from those age-group sides are now playing for the national team. Sanchez’s long connection with Qatar made them an indomitable force in Asia.
When asked about his views on Bangladesh, Sanchez replied, “We watched the last game of Bangladesh and we know their strengths. Set-pieces such as long throw-wins is a good opportunity for them. They prefer a more organized attack and they will try to play their way and we will try to play our way.”
Experienced midfielder Ali Hassan Afif accompanied Sanchez in the presser. The 31-year-old was also humble while talking about the opponents.
“We really wish for a win but it won’t be easy because Asian football today is totally different. There are no small and big teams. We all are same. Only the winning team need to prove themselves to win the game.” said Afif.
Meanwhile, Qatar will not spend much time in Dhaka as they will fly for Qatar tomorrow in the morning.