Qatar live up to Sanchez's expectations
Abu Dhabi: Felix Sanchez hailed his team’s stunning 3-1 victory over Japan in the final of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 on Friday as Qatar claimed their first-ever Continental crown at the Zayed Sports City Stadium.
Goals from Almoez Ali, Abdelaziz Hatim and Akram Afif secured the title for Sanchez’s side at the end of a gruelling month and the Spanish coach praised his side’s dedication to their trophy-winning task during the last seven games.
“Today we made history, we made history for our country so we need to be proud of our achievement,” said Sanchez, who took charge of the senior national side in June 2017. “It’s more proof that with hard work and commitment and working as a team you can reach very good results.
“This is one step more to continue developing the team to play in another tournament in the summer and to be ready in 2022 to represent Qatar.”
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Qatar’s victory was based on a full-throttle performance in the opening half hour as Ali and Hatim gave their team a two-goal lead and, while Takumi Minamino pulled one back for Japan, Afif’s penalty 10 minutes from time sealed the win and their historic first-ever title.
“We played against a top quality team, not in Asia but the world, so a result in a game like this is a huge, huge result for us,” said Sanchez.
“We started the first 10 minutes well, we had control and we played fantastic and after 30 minutes we had two goals. The team played very good. Japan, of course, is a very offensive team and they changed their strategy. They were very offensive, but once again the team showed we are very solid."
“The commitment of the players in the defensive phase of the game was very good but in the second half, for the first 25 minutes, they were putting us inside so we were defending. They put us there, but the team were very solid and we conceded a goal but they showed how strong are these players.
“They know how to face the game when they don’t have the ball and we could score the third one and it was very deserved. I’m very happy for everyone in Qatar and this group of players, who are amazing.”