Ambitious Qatar chase World Cup lifeline in South Korea
06 Oct 2016 - 3:56
The Peninsula / AFP
SUWON: Just 12 days into the job Jorge Fossati faces his first test as Qatar coach when his side play away at South Korea in a crucial 2018 World Cup qualifier today.
The highly ambitious 2022 World Cup hosts are sixth and bottom of Group A after losing their first two games -- away to Iran and, surprisingly, home to Uzbekistan -- in the third round of AFC qualifying for Russia.
Qatar are yet to score a goal in a group where the top two teams automatically qualify.
Before jetting off for South Korea, Fossati said he was still hopeful that Qatar could reach their first World Cup.
“I believe that Qatar can qualify. It will be very, very difficult but I am optimistic,” said the 63-year-old, conceding that third place and play-off qualification might be his team’s best bet.
Fossati, formerly manager of Qatar League Champions Al Rayyan, will rely largely on Carreno’s team, drafting just one new player into his 23-man squad.
Defence may prove the key in Suwon, though Fossati did see his team beat Serbia 3-0 in a friendly in Doha last week with Uruguayan-born forward Sebastian Soria scoring a hat-trick. The squad also includes Akram Afif, the first Qatari to play in the Spanish La Liga.
Form - and history - suggests Qatar have a tough task against Uli Stielike’s team.
In seven matches against each other, Qatar have beaten South Korea once, back in 1984.
The two teams met at the same stage of qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup, South Korea winning 2-1 in Seoul and 4-1 in Doha.
The Koreans - spearheaded by in-form Tottenham forward Son Heung-Min - have taken four points from their first two matches, beating China and drawing with Syria - Qatar’s next opponents, on October 11.
I have confidence in my side: Fossati
New Qatar coach Jorge Fossati yesterday exuded confidence in his side Qatar just a day ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying game against hosts Korea at Suwon Stadium.
“It is a difficult match for us as we are facing one of the best sides in Asia,” Fossati said in a press conference yesterday.
“Korea has one of the best set-ups anywhere with a professional outlook. They have an experienced side. However, I am confident that my players can do it.
“My players have the ability to face up to the hosts. The boys have done good work to prepare for this game,” Fossati said.
“These boys are not in training for only 10 days. They have been in training since long. They will play with responsibility as the the people back home have high hopes.
“I think Korea are coached by a very good hand (Uli Stielike). He has helped his side withstand pressures,” Fossati said.
Fossati said Qatar will be playing to win though ‘a draw won’t be a bad result’.
“We want three points or a single point as we have a job to do. The players have been very receptive to my ideas. They have done well so far,” he said.
“This is a game we must enjoy and fight for. We must learn from mistakes. It feels good to have come to a stadium where you have played before and won,” he said.
We won’t lack in effort, says star striker Soria
SEOUL: Influential striker Sebastian Soria yesterday pledged a wholesome effort in Qatar’s key 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against hosts Korea today.
“We will make every effort possible to get a positive result. It is an important match for us and we know it,” Soria said yesterday.
Soria is expected to play key role with fellow forward Rodrigo Tabata and Hassan Al Haydos.
“Every team member seeks a positive result. We have a plan for Korea so that we get things going our way. We need a good show after the two losses (last month). We are aware that we are playing one of the biggest sides in Asia. But we believe in our own abilities to deliver on the big stage,” the veteran striker said.
“I can assure you that the boys in maroon are all charged up. They are ready for a big fight tomorrow. We have ambitions and getting points is one of them,” he said.