IT’LL be a do-or-die battle for Qatar when they take on South Korea in Suwon on Thursday, in their third match of the final-round Asian qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Having lost the first two games to Iran and Uzbekistan, mainly due to the now-familiar last-minute fallibilities, Qatar find themselves at the bottom of group. The two reversals also marked the end of coach Daniel Carreno’s reign.
Though it could be termed as a new beginning, except for the return of coach Jorge Fossati, there’s nothing much new. By and large, the squad remains the same.
Only a positive result can set the tone for a possible revival of the team’s fortunes. The players look determined to achieve this, banking heavily on the vast experience of Fossati who, as Al Sadd coach, made it big by clinching the AFC Champions League title in South Korea in 2011. One of the Uruguayan’s strong points is his ability to motivate players, which he achieves through exemplary interpersonal skills. He has been in Qatar for quite a long time and knows most of them closely.
Qatar, though beaten, could still take some positives from their matches against Iran and Uzbekistan. But, for a good result, they need to maintain their composure throughout and not become hasty. It remains to be seen who’ll be Fossati’s first choice goalkeeper. In modern game, it has become a very crucial position as the keeper forms the first line of attack and last line of defence.
It was a silly mistake by Amine Lecomte that led to the defeat against Iran while it was midfielder Karim Boudiaf’s error in judgement while dealing with an aerial ball that let Uzbekistan deliver the decisive blow in Doha.
A win, or at least a draw, can put Qatar’s campaign back on track and a victory against Syria next Tuesday should provide further momentum to it.
Even Korea will be hoping to bounce back. They were far from impressive as they narrowly beat China and were held goalless by Syria. They may’ve a better head-to-head record against Qatar (four wins and two draws in seven meetings) but, in football, reputation and history don’t count for much. What matters the most is the day’s form.
If Qatar can make amends, then they can definitely pull off what could be a creditable win.
Here’s wishing the boys all the best.