Qatar's Al Haydos eyeing semi final spot, expects tough batt...| MENAFN.COM

Saturday, 22 January 2022 09:16 GMT

Qatar's Al Haydos eyeing semi final spot, expects tough battle from UAE


(MENAFN- The Peninsula) #Arab Cup 2021 By Fawad Hussain | The Peninsula

Doha: Qatar thumped the United Arab Emirates 4-0 on their home soil in the semi-final of the Asian Cup 2019, before eventually winning their maiden continental crown with a victory over four-time champions Japan. 

After almost three years, the two Gulf opponents are pitted in the quarter-finals of the FIFA Arab Cup 2021, with Qatari star Hassan Al Haydos considering the UAE a different side from what his team faced in the high-pressure clash at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

The hosts will take on the UAE in the first quarter-final of the 16-team event at the Al Bayt Stadium on Friday as winners of Group A. Qatar maintained a perfect record in the first stage, beating Bahrain (1-0), Oman (2-1) and Iraq (3-0) in the first stage. 

The UAE finished runners-up in Group B with victories over Syria (2-1) and Mauritania (1-0). The Bert van Marijk-coached side lost to Tunisia 1-0 in their final group match as the North Africans topped the group. 

Although, Al Annabi have been remarkable in the event so far, Al Haydos, who led the team to Asian Cup triumph, said the team will have to up the ante in the quarter-finals. 

“The next match will not be at the same levels as the previous match with the UAE,” the Al Sadd forward said while referring to the Asian Cup semi-final between the two teams.

“This Emirates team is a new side and the match is going to be difficult. We hope to be up to the mark and get a good result and qualify for the semi-finals,” Al Haydos, who was among the goal scorers against the UAE in 2019, said. 

On Monday night, Qatar wrapped up the group stage with a superb victory over Iraq after substitutes Almoez Ali (82nd minute), Akram Afif (84th) and Al Haydos (90+4) helped the Asian champions with late goals. Head coach Felix Sanchez made nine changes in the playing XI against Iraq.

The defeat saw the four-time champions crashing out of the tournament, with Oman joining Qatar in the quarter-finals.

“Hard luck to the Iraqi team and the Iraqi crowd,” said Al Haydos. 

“We proved that we are a strong team despite the participation of players who did not play in the first two matches. We played the match well and scored late goals to win. Iraq were desperate for goals and that allowed us spaces to attack resulting in these three goals,” the Al Sadd star added.

Meanwhile, Sanchez thanked home fans, saying their support helped players in showing their best against Iraq. 

“I am proud of the players and I also want to thank fans for supporting us in the match,” the head coach said.

“The match was not easy for us because we were already qualified but the players showed commitment and discipline. Their performance was great and now we have to recover and think about our next match.”

Sanchez also praised the trio of Almoez, Afif and Al Haydos for their late goals against Iraq. 

“It's great to come from outside the field and play and score to help the team. There are many players in our team who are key players and that's what the group does,” the coach said. 
Meanwhile, Iraq's Bashar Resan said a dip in team's performance in the second half resulted in his team's defeat to Qatar.

“We were not bad in the first half as we created several chances to score while not giving a strong Qatari team any opportunity to score,” the midfielder said.

“We suffered a physical decline in the second half like in our previous two matches against Oman and Bahrain. We gave too much space to Qatar late in the match,” said Resan, who plays for QNB Stars League (QSL) side Qatar SC.

“We apologise to our fans for failing to advance as they were hoping for us to qualify.” 

Iraq, the most decorated team in the Arab Cup, remained winless in the tournament and finished third in the group with two points, ahead of bottom-placed Bahrain.

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