Qatar make Sanchez proud
Abu Dhabi: Felix Sanchez praised his team’s cool-headed approach after Qatar handed AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 hosts the United Arab Emirates a 4-0 defeat to secure their place in the final of the Continental championship for the first time in the country’s history on Tuesday.
Boualem Khoukhi and Almoez Ali gave Sanchez’s side a two-goal lead at half time before further strikes from Hassan Al Haydos and Hamid Ismaeil completed the win in the second half to set up a meeting in Friday’s final with four-time champions Japan.
Qatar overcame a vociferous home crowd to advance to the decider and Sanchez hailed the maturity shown by his young team as they completed a sixth straight game at the Finals without conceding a goal.
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“I think the game was a difficult one with a lot of emotions and we were not feeling very comfortable in the beginning,” said the Spaniard. “But we were able to manage to score twice.
“Obviously in the second half the opposition tried to attack more and they put all their offensive talented players in front, but the team was very solid, very relaxed and very compact.
“We were defending well in the wide situations and we were able to make some good actions in the counterattack to make the final result, which is a very good one and I’m very satisfied and congratulations to the players for the big effort.”
Ali’s goal was his eight in six games at UAE 2019 as he equalled Ali Daei’s scoring record from the last time the tournament was held in the Emirates but, while Sanchez complimented the Al Sadd striker’s haul, he was quick stress the importance of the collective.
“We are playing as a team,” he said. “Of course Almoez is our centre-forward and one of his main jobs is to be close to the goal and try to score and he’s been very effective and he’s having a great performance.
“But the most important is the team scores. We celebrate as a unit, as one and this is one of the main results. It’s an individual achievement but it’s the collective because we know that he couldn’t make it without all the other players around the pitch.”
For that reason, Sanchez was particularly delighted his team went through another 90 minutes without conceding, becoming the first team in AFC Asian Cup history to go six games without giving up a goal.
“I think obviously to not concede goals gives you more opportunities to go forward,” he said. “I think the players showed great commitment because we were in games where we need to be realistic and the opposition, they are trying to attack and have good players and different options and the players were very well organised.
“They were very focused on the challenge and the side situations so I think they are working very well as a team and that’s the situation. In six games, we didn’t concede a goal. It’s very important and one of the main keys why we are qualified for the final.”
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