As the AFC Asian Cup 2019 fast approaches, Qatar head coach Felix Sanchez claims he is not putting too much pressure on the entire campaign – and would like to take things one game at a time.
The Spaniard will lead Qatar in Group E as they face Lebanon DPR Korea and tournament contenders Saudi Arabia. With the Lebanese as their first match at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, Sanchez is focusing entirely on the match at hand.
Speaking to AFC, he revealed: “Right now we are only looking at the first match. We respect our competitors but we are aware of their strengths and weaknesses.
“We will be focusing on one game at a time. All the teams offer a different challenge. We are well aware of our challenges and how we have to tackle them.”
The team has vastly improved with Sanchez at the helm, with impressive displays in matches leading up to the competition.
“We played the friendly matches to help the players get into the right frame of mind and to assist the players get match practice,” said the Spaniard.
“We have got to see the fitness levels of our players and their overall form (in the friendly matches). Playing matches always help the players. The players have shown their commitment on the pitch.
“I was pleased with the win over Switzerland and we fought hard against Iceland. We will go step-by-step in the Asian Cup. We will be playing to win, just like any other side. We will be aiming for maximum points from every game. The players believe in themselves.”
Many are pointing out to some added pressure to perform well given that Qatar will be hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but Sanchez reiterates that the main focus is to show their worth in the competition.
“The AFC Asian Cup is one of the titles we are looking for and the players have prepared well,” he said. “It’s a great challenge, but we have a bunch of very talented players.
“Our long-term goal, of course, is to be ready to fight at home at the World Cup in 2022, and playing at the Copa America next year is also part of that.
“Doing well at the AFC Asian Cup is a personal challenge, especially after we did so well at the AFC U23 Championship in China at the start of the year.
“The Asian Cup is an event for us to show where we stand in Asia.”