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Qatar shall rise to ensure semis berth: Sanchez

Qatar shall rise to ensure semis berth: Sanchez

Tribune News Network Kuwait City After a great start to their 23rd Gulf Cup 2017 challenge where they thrashed Yemen 4-0, defending champions Qatar were edged by Iraq, who rallied from being a goal down to win 2-1, and now face a tough ask in their last and final match of the group stage against Bahrain on Friday. Qatar are currently placed third with three points from two matches in Group B; Iraq and Bahrain with four points each are one and two respectively, while Yemen have failed to open their account as yet. Given the scenario, Qatar need nothing short of a win against Bahrain and the team’s coach Felix Sanchez says that his side will be treating it as a title clash. A win on Friday against Bahrain at the Kuwait Sports Club Stadium will secure Qatar a semi-final berth at the Gulf Cup. “We have a game in hand. It’s like a final for us,” said Sanchez after the match against Iraq on Tuesday. “It depends on us, if we want to reach the semi-finals. Of course, we will try to play a better game. We need a good result to qualify. We will try harder,” the Spaniard assured. “There are many things to be decided. It will be like a final for sure,” stressed Sanchez. The Qatar coach said his players won’t take the pressure of a crunch game since such a scenario is often talked about or discussed in team meetings. “We knew we could be in such a situation before the start of the tournament. The players know it. They are professionals and they are ready for such battles. They will give their best,” said Sanchez. He said disappointing results – like the one on Tuesday night – could happen when a number of key matches are scheduled in a short time. “This is a short tournament. Every team plays a few games in a very short period of time.” Sanchez said he opted for changes in team tactics against Iraq since key Qatar midfielder Assim Madibo was ruled out with a back injury. “We needed to do some changes because Assim was not available. That was a tactical change. This way we gave a chance to a fresh player,” Sanchez explained. “We planned the game with three changes. We will not start our planning for the next game. We have 23 good players in the team and we have many options,” he said. The Qatar coach praised Iraq for their resolute tactics that allowed the three-time champions to script a fighting win. “We tried to push and get that second goal. They used two strikers and it was very difficult for us to stop them. Those strikers were physically very strong. In the second half we tried many things to win. My players did their best and pressed hard,” said Sanchez. Looking ahead, he said, “We need a positive result. Our players have to recover physically and then we will plan for the game.” Meanwhile, Iraq coach Bassim Qassim was a relieved man and happy with his team’s good show. “It was an important match and I am happy with the way we played,” he said. “It was a difficult match but we fought well. We played a steady game. We were clearly a better side than our first game against Bahrain. The players were able to read the situations well,” Bassem explained.

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