Barcelona legend Xavi stunned the footballing world when he predicted that Qatar would win the AFC Asian Cup 2019 tournament – before it even kicked off.
However the Al Sadd footballer played down his prediction and instead claimed that the nation’s romping victory at the tournament was due to the years of work that went on behind the scenes to elevate Qatar football.
“We must remember that Qatar Football Association has been preparing this team for years to win this title. The Aspire Academy project is the idea of H H Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani and the idea is now achieving great success. The Qatari fans see the results now,” he told news channel Al Kass, praising the football academy that has been responsible for 13 of the players in the squad that featured at the Asian Cup.
“A lot of fans in Spain told me about ‘the football miracle’ that is happening in Qatar. I explain to them that this is no miracle. This is due to the preparation of many years and the great efforts and plans at Aspire Academy,” he added.
In addition to his effusive praise of the developmental system that Qatar has implemented with respect to football, Xavi also revealed that he has personally worked with national team coach Felix Sanchez to help prepare the nation’s football players for the tournament and will do so for the 2022 World Cup as well.
“I love football, whether playing or managing. That’s why I’m at Aspire and I’m helping Felix Sanchez on this project. My presence in Qatar is for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
I did not predict Qatar winning the title because I am sympathetic towards Qatar. I knew Qatar would win because I know their potential and because I am very close to the players. I am with them daily. I know the skills of the players and the distinctive style adopted by coach Sanchez,” he admitted.
(Quotes R/T Ghana Soccernet)