Tribune News Network
In what would be perhaps a last overseas contest before they embark on their most important assignment of FIFA World Cup 2022 at home, Qatar will play Chile in the international friendly in Vienna on Tuesday at 8pm Doha Time.
Felix Sanchez’s men, who are camping in Europe for the last four months as they prepare for their World debut at home, were outplayed by fellow World Cup qualifiers Canada last Friday.
On Tuesday, the Al Annabi will run into a much tougher opponent Chile at the Viola Park in Vienna.
This will be the final opportunity for Sanchez to finalise his 26-member squad for the World Cup, and by the looks of it the Spaniard has a lot more to worry about.
Against Canada, Qatar employed a deep defensive line and offered little in attack as they struggled to impose themselves, conceding both goals within the opening 13 minutes. Lack of intense match practice was apparent on Qatar players’ performance as they have sat out of Qatar Stars league matches back home.
The squad remains too light with lack of quality on the bench making it impossible for Sanchez to try new players.
On Friday, the defence lacked cohesion from the opening minute as Qatar’s weakness in defending crosses in the box was laid bare as it did during the European qualifiers earlier this year.
Qatar are grouped with Netherlands, Senegal and Ecuador for the World Cup and hence need to find both rhythm and top form ahead of their November 20th opening World Cup clash against Ecuador.
Before the match against Canada, Al Annabi have played few behind-the-door friendly matches against clubs and second string national teams as their preparations have been kept a well-guarded secret. After their match against Chile, Sanchez and his men briefly return home.
The players will be given three days’ rest before they will hold an open training session in front of fans and media for five days at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium. Qatar then will return to isolation in Spain for more training.
Qatar will get a sterner test against Chile with the South Americans still reeling from the shock of missing out on World Cup qualification. Chile will miss a second straight tournament after enduring a torrid qualification campaign, where La Roja finished five points adrift of the playoff place and seven points off automatic qualification.
Chile, who went down to Morocco on Friday, are looking to get out of the rut having gone winless in their last six games and also failing to find the net in each one of those matches. Chile – who are 13 places above Qatar in the world rankings – have quality players all over the pitch with the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal and Gary Medel in their line-up.
Marcelino Nunez is in contention to come into the midfield, while Francisco Serralta and Gabriel Suazo may also be brought into the starting lineup. Ben Brereton Diaz is expected to keep his place in the frontline, with the forward looking to add to the four goals that he has scored at international level.
Defender Daniel Gutierrez said Chile was looking to put their poor performances behind. “This match is extremely important. It will help us improve ourselves mentally and physically. It will be an intense duel tomorrow. We must become strong and keep up the pace,” Gutierrez said.