12 Jan 2018 - 0:00
In-form Qatar to go all out for victory against Oman
By Chinthana Wasala / The Peninsula
DOHA: Despite wining the opening fixture of the AFC U23 Championship against Uzbekistan, Qatar will focus on the task in hand when they meet Oman at the Changzhou Olympic Sports Centre in Changzhou, in southern Jiangsu province of China today.
Influential midfielder Akram Afif has said that Qatar remain focussed on the task in hand despite the morale boosting 1-0 win over Uzbekistan.
A well worked Almoez Ali, with assistance from midfielder Hashim Ali, flicked a ball from close range to score the only goal of match in the 56th minute after both the sides failed to score in the first half.
That gave Qatar a perfect start to their Group A campaign, but Afif insisted that his side should not get carried away by their early success.
“Our team really did well, and it was important to win that game,” explained the 21-year-old who plays in Belgium for Eupen.
“Yes, we won the game and got the three points, but that doesn’t mean that we have won (the tournament). It’s not enough, and right now we are only looking ahead to playing Oman,” Afif said.
Hosts China had it easy against Oman in the opening match on Tuesday which put them at the top of the Group.
Coach Felix Sanchez’s boys are currently occupying second spot behind Qatar and Afif is aware of the capabilities of the host team.
“China are a very good team.”
“No one particular player stands out. They are all very good and they help each other out, and I think they will go far in this tournament,” Afif said.
On the other hand, Oman will try their best to bounce back following Tuesday’s 3-0 loss and make sure they stay in contest.
Omani striker Zahir Al Aghbari said that they will learn from mistakes before going into the all-important clash against Al Annabi.
“We will learn from our mistakes,” the 18-year-old said.
“We now need to think more about our next two games. We will fix our mistakes and we need to win the next two matches,” he said.
With their continued participation in the competition potentially in the balance, Al Aghbari said that they are fully focused on the task in hand.
“We will focus on our game against Qatar first,” he said.
“Qatar play in the Gulf Cup, so we know them better than the other teams, and we know exactly how they play as a team. We have played against them a lot, especially in the last two years.
“We are confident we can progress, but we must think more about our next step. All the teams in Group A are at the same level, and I believe that the team which can focus more at this stage of the competition will qualify,” Al Aghbari said.
Today’s match will kick off at 2.30pm Qatar time. Qatar will play their final Group match against hosts China on January 15.