Qatar face tough task in third round

 13 Apr 2016 - 0:59

Qatar face tough task in third round
Asian Football Confederation (AFC) General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John shows the ballot of Qatar during the draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Asian Qualifiers Final Round in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, yesterday. Right: Qatar coach Jose Daniel Carreno is seated during the draw ceremony.

Kuala Lumpur:  Qatar, the 2022 World Cup hosts, will face Iran and South Korea in Group A as teams were drawn for the final stage of regional qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia yesterday.
Sleeping giants China, who scraped into the third round after a stop-start qualifying campaign so far, war-torn Syria and Uzbekistan are the other teams in Group A.
More than a year after the race to World Cup Russia got underway in the Asian zone, with over 160 games having already been played across the first two stages, the draw for the third round of qualifying took place yesterday in Kuala Lumpur. 
This ended an anxious wait for the 12 teams still in the running, who now know the identity of the opponents against whom they will vie for one of the four automatic tickets to the finals that are up for grabs.
The draw was conducted by AFC General Secretary Dato Windsor John in the presence of coaches of the teams that will contest the third round and officials of the 12 countries.
Qatar’s head coach Jose Daniel Carreno said he was pleased to be playing in Group A.
“Our goal is to be the best four teams and qualify for the World Cup,” he said.
Qatar’s task will be challenging as they are only the ninth highest ranked team out of the remaining 12, according to FIFA—ahead of Iraq, Syria and Thailand. Asian champions Australia landed in the same group as heavyweights Japan.
Ange Postecoglou’s Socceroos will also face Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and minnows Thailand in Group B when games start in September.
The top two in each group will qualify for the World Cup in Russia, while two third-placed sides will face each other for the right to contest an intercontinental play-off.
Meanwhile, Iran’s highly-regarded Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz predicted South Korea, Japan and Australia would qualify for the World Cup in Russia.
“South Korea, Japan and Australia will go to the World Cup. The last one spot will be fought by Iran, China and Uzbekistan,” he said.
Queiroz said travelling long journeys on commercial flights would take a toll on his players.
“Besides needing good preparations you need resources like having shorter air travel time for the players,” he said.
Queiroz said playing against China in particular would be difficult and the team was making huge improvements.
“South Korea is very strong and we have Qatar too. We have a complete new team. They are young and talented but no experience,” he said.
The first matches in Round 3 will take place in September 2016, with the group stage concluding a year later. 
The top two teams in each group will progress automatically to Russia 2018, with the two third-placed sides advancing to Round 4 for a chance to reach the CONCACAF-Asian Zone play-off for a spot at the global finals. 


Coach Carreno says his side is ready for the challenge

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Qatar coach Jose Daniel Carreno yesterday said his team won’t be daunted by the prospect of facing some of the tough teams in Asia in the third and final phase of 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.
Yesterday, Qatar were drawn in Group A that also includes Iran, Korea Republic, Uzbekistan, China and Syria.
Group B includes Australia, Japan, Saudi Arabia , the United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Thailand.
“We have to remain optimistic about the coming matches. We will be ready for the opening clash against Iran,” Carreno said yesterday after the draws were made.
“Asia’s two of the top teams in Iran and Korea are in our group. Thisgroup is open because we have shown great form in the last few months,” he said.
“Having said that, we will try our best to qualify for the 2018 World Cup,” the Uruguayan said.
 “Our focus is on the third and final stage of qualifying. Myself and the players in collaboration with the backroom staff are fully focused on the job at hand,” he said.
“We have been playing well as a team and there is spirit within my camp. The results we have achieved in the last few months are a proof of that,” he said.
Qatar won 7 of the 8 matches they played in the last qualifying campaign.
“We have a well charted out schedule of training and matches in the coming weeks. Our target is going to be playing to win,” he said.