Preview - Round of 16: Qatar v Iraq
Abu Dhabi: Qatar and Iraq will tread with caution when they meet in their AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Round of 16 tie at the Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
Both teams advanced to the knockout stage in impressive form, with Qatar winning their three Group E matches while Iraq qualified with two wins and a draw, against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Qatar head coach Felix Sanchez and Iraqi counterpart Srecko Katanec, however, said their group stage record did not mean a thing now, especially after Jordan having been knocked out by Vietnam.
Jordan advanced from Group A without conceding a single goal but the one they did against Vietnam ultimately ended their campaign as the Southeast Asian side won the penalty shootout 4-2 on Sunday.
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"This is the knockout stage and it all boils down to one match. One defeat and we go home," said Sanchez, a situation which he said his team are mindful off.
"We too didn't concede a goal in the group stage but all that can change in an instance and we could be eliminated. This is something that we don't want to happen and the players know that there must be full concentration."
Qatar will go into the last 16 tie on a high, having defeated Lebanon 2-0, DPR Korea 6-0 and a tough Saudi Arabia 2-0, with Almoez Ali scoring seven of their 10 goals.
"The group stage results have given us confidence and we have prepared well for the match. All my players are available and anyone of them can be called into action."
Katanec, however, doesn't believe Qatar will make changes.
"We have analysed their matches and they always start with the same set of players. They are a very good side and we have to approach the match having fully understood what is required of us," said Katanec.
Iraq, semi-finalists in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, have also enjoyed good form thus far as they came from behind to defeat Vietnam 3-2, cruised past Yemen 3-0 before the battling 0-0 draw with Iran.
"Our form is good but we must be on our toes against Qatar. Jordan went into their match against Vietnam having not conceded one goal but the first one they did was enough to eliminate them from the tournament.
"Qatar will be huge challenge as they are very adept in changing tactics and formations. My message to the players is that we must be quick to adjust to Qatar," said the Slovenian, who took charge of Iraq just four months ago.
The four months, however, have been enough to show him just how passionate Iraqis are of football and he said his players are determined to give their fans joy.
"We have been taking it one match at a time and I have not pressured the players by saying we must win. The players, however, are determined to give their countrymen joy and we will give our best against Qatar."
Iraq too have all players available, ensuring a blockbuster end to the Round of 16.
Round of 16
Qatar v Iraq
Al Nahyan Stadium
20:00 (Local time)
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