After Qatar’s winless streak extended to seven games with a 0-4 drubbing by Serbia on Thursday night, coach Felix Sanchez said his squad needs to keep playing against stronger teams and learn from their mistakes.
The defeat in their penultimate game of the FIFA World Cup European Zone qualifiers was another below-par performance from Qatar. The Asian champions have not won since they beat El Salvador 3-2 in the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarter-final in June.
Qatar are playing in European Qualifiers as a guest team having already qualified for the 2022 World Cup as hosts. In Europe, Qatar have played nine matches, winning two, drawing two and losing the remaining five as they prepare for the World Cup at home in a year’s time.
Al Annabi were without star striker Akram Afif and captain Hassan Al-Haydos as they failed to threaten Serbia and looked pedestrian throughout the match. Sanchez said his team had a lot to learn from the stronger European rivals.
“I think we played well in the first half but conceded at the end of that half. And then we lost focus in the second half,” rued the Spaniard.
“The result may be a bit harsh, but we are here to learn. We must continue to work to develop and improve in order to be more stable in the decisive moments of the matches. We will review what happened with the players.
"I hope they understand what happened. Now we have to recover and strive to give our best against Azerbaijan on Sunday and finish the qualifiers in the best possible way,” the Qatar coach added.
On participating in the European qualifiers, Sanchez said: “The experience has been very useful and rich. The tough matches against strong teams will benefit us. We are facing players of higher quality than those we face in the Qatari league,” he said.
“We came to participate in the European qualifiers in order to benefit from mistakes and learn. We are trying to make the most of them and we must continue to play in matches at the same level and efficiency,” Sanchez noted.
The Qatar squad arrived in Baku yesterday to face Azerbaijan in their final European qualifiers match on Sunday. Post that, the Al Annabi will travel back to Qatar to take part in the FIFA Arab Cup, which will be held from November 30 at six World Cup venues.
Asked whether Qatar were favourites to win the Arab Cup, Sanchez said: “There are teams with a great history and are highly ranked than Qatar. They have a better chance to win the title, but at the same time we are a strong team too and will be one of the contenders.”