(MENAFN- The Peninsula)
#Arab Cup 2021 Fawad Hussain | The Peninsula
Qatar have faced massive resistance from Oman in their recent games and the Al Annabi coach Felix Sanchez feels today's FIFA Arab Cup match between the Gulf opponents will be no different.
Both the Group A teams will meet today at the Education City Stadium and the Qatar coach will be fielding his full-strength side, knowing Oman's fighting spirit on the pitch.
After a 1-0 victory over Bahrain in their opening match, the Asian cham-pions will be looking to continue their winning run to stay on top in the group, while Branko Ivanković-coached Oman will be seeking full points to stay in contention for the quarter-finals fol-lowing a 1-1 draw against Iraq in their first tie.
While Qatar defeated Oman in both their joint qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup in the last two years, Ivanković's side gave Al Annabi a run for money in both these matches.
Their last game in June this year was a cliffhanger, with Qatar sealing a narrow win from Hassan Al Haydos' penalty strike in the 40th minute.
“Oman are tough opponents and we know them well from our recent matches,” Sanchez told a pre-match press conference yesterday.
“Oman have a very clear style of playing and we have a plan against them. Like every match, we are tar-geting the winning points. We will put our best players in the game who we think will help us win,” he added.
Qatar will be entering the field, having an advantage of win against Bahrain and fans support but Sanchez said both the teams will start with equal chances to claim maximum points.
“There are no favourites, we will play our game and Oman will play their game. Let's see which team is the one who can take the points. Our last games against them were very tough games,” the Spaniard said.
Al Annabi started the Arab Cup with an eight-match winless streak but the coach defended his team, which is going through a busy season that includes participation in the CON-CACAF Gold Cup and the European Qualifiers, where teams faced strong opponents.
“First, we need to be aware of the oppositions. We are coming from a very long season and our players were also busy with the domestic season with their clubs, also playing the AFC Champions League matches. It affects the level but we strongly believe that what we need is to face all type of situations. We believe in what we are doing and we have full confidence in our team,” said Sanchez.
“All the matches we have been playing, the purpose is to improve the level and experience. We need to get used to different style of football if we want to be ready for the World Cup. This is another competition with other kind of teams and we need to be ready to face them all,” he added.
Qatar and Oman enjoy brotherly ties and players of the two teams con-sider each other friends but home team's goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb said that will not be the case on the turf today.
“To be honest, we respect Oman but nevertheless meeting on the pitch is something different. We will be rivals there and Qatar team's ambition is to win,” said the Qatari goalkeeper.
“Arab Cup is most important tournament and it is an honour to rep-resent my country in this elite event. I am very happy to return from injury and play in this tournament,” said Al Sheeb, who returned recently after an injury layoff.
Qatar a top side but we are well prepared: Oman coach
Meanwhile, Oman coach Ivanković said his team is facing the toughest side in the group but hoped for positive results in the match.“Qatari players are very good and they have earned a lot of experience. They also have a good experience of playing at big stage so the match is going to be difficult but we are well prepared,” the former Croatian player told reporters yesterday. Ivanković was unperturbed with Qatar having support of home crowd, saying it will help his team too.“The atmosphere will also motivate us and we will give our best,” he said. Oman's Harib Al Saadi said his team will be aiming for a victory against the home team.“Qatar match will be the toughest in the group because they are a top side. They are the Asian champions and they will be playing in front of home fans,” the attacking midfielder said.
“But, we have confidence in our-selves and our aim will be to win the match and take three points to make our fans happy. We want a win after a draw against Iraq in the first match. Our target is to reach the quarter-final and tomorrow's [today] match is very important for us,” he added.
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