Our players need to show more composure and maturity
QATAR have a lot at stake as they embark on a tough journey in pursuit of a berth at the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in Russia.
They came very close to winning an Olympic berth, but fell to Iraq in extra time in the third-place play-off. That defeat has put added pressure on them to qualify for Russia and prove they’ve the right credentials to be the 2022 World Cup hosts.
If Qatar qualify for the World Cup before hosting it, it’ll undoubtedly be a huge impetus to the country’s football development programme and a feather on the cap of the masterminds behind it.
Qatar find themselves in a tough group also comprising Iran, South Korea, Uzbekistan, China and Syria while the other group consists of Japan, Australia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iraq and Thailand.
From Qatar’s perspective, the first two matches — away to Iran and at home against Uzbekistan — are very crucial. Though history favours Carlos Queiroz’s Iran, one should realise that Qatar, under Daniel Carreno, have shown a lot of progress in recent times. There’s a marked improvement in their technical and psychological levels, reflecting the Uruguayan coach’s good preparation, a fact even admitted by some of their opponents.
Carreno & Co go into the Iran match high on confidence, winning quite a few friendlies, including a 3-0 thrashing of Thailand.
Well begun is half done, they say. So it’s always important to begin well. I would say if Qatar can come off at least with a draw from Tehran, that’ll boost their confidence and help them put up a commanding show against Uzbekistan at home next week.
On paper, South Korea look overwhelming favourites to top the group, but Iran and Qatar should run them close. Even the third-placed team gets an opportunity to make it to Russia through two rounds of play-offs, continental and intercontinental.
Qatar have been caught off guard towards the end on quite a few occasions, like that extra-time killer blow by Iraq in the Olympic qualifier. It’s here the players need to show more composure and maturity. Panic causes chaos and will only allow the opponent to assume dangerous proportions.
Here’s wishing Qatar all the best.