Qatar gear up for AFC U-23 opener today

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Felix Sanchez has stressed the Qatar side he has brought to the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 should not be compared to the squad he led to the semi-finals of the last edition o as the clock ticks towards his team’s clash with Syria in their Group B opener on Thursday.
Qatar finished in third place at the 2018 AFC U23 Championship in China PR having missed out on a place at the Olympic Games two years earlier when they lost to Iraq in the third place play-off.
But the Spanish coach, who led Qatar’s senior side to their first-ever AFC Asian Cup title last January, prefers to look forward as the start of the latest edition of the competition looms.
“China was two years ago and we’re a different generation now,” he said. “We are a young team and we have the target to do well, so we don’t want to compare generations.
“This is an opportunity for them to prepare for the future and also to show their capabilities to join the first national team in the near future, which is an objective for them.
“The first game is difficult because everyone wants to start well and we just hope the players are able to manage the situation, to be calm and concentrate. We know our opponent has a strong team and we know we’re going to have to play a very good game to have the opportunity to have the result we want.”
Qatar begin their campaign against Syria on Thursday before taking on Japan and Saudi Arabia in a group that is among the toughest of the tournament, with the Japanese and Saudis having both impressed in recent editions of the AFC U19 Championship.
Given the stellar achievements of their opponents in recent years, Syria come into the tournament as underdogs and coach Ayman Hakeem knows his team must make a strong start to their campaign if they are to harbour hopes of a place in the knockout rounds.
“All of the teams that have qualified for this tournament are the best teams in Asia and our group is one of the toughest groups, but we hope to perform well and we hope to qualify,” he said.
“It’s difficult because of the strong teams in our group and we respect everyone in our group but nothing is impossible.”
“The first match for every team is very difficult, but I hope all the players are responsible and perform well. The first match is the key for qualifying for the next round.
“Our players are preparing themselves to be in the first team in the next couple of years and I hope they perform well tomorrow and throughout the whole tournament.”

Source: Qatar Tribune