Qatar eye home win
22 Mar 2017 - 22:22
By Armstrong Vas / The Peninsula
Coach Jorge Fossati has made a rallying call to Qatar fans to come in large numbers and back their team in the crucial FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifying match against Group A leaders Iran at the Al Sadd Stadium here today.
Carlos Queiroz’s side, favourites to book a place for the show piece event in Russia, enjoy a slender one-point lead over second placed Korea Republic going into today’s match, while the hosts are in a do-or-die situation.
The Al Anabi have to win all their reaming five matches in the third phase, including the match against Iran, to keep their qualifying hopes alive for next year’s World Cup in Russia.
“I call upon the Qatar team fans to come in large numbers and fill up the entire Al Sadd Stadium, and cheer for the team. This is the time to rally behind the players and support the team,” said the 64 year- old, who took over from Jose Daniel Carreno, who was in charge of the team during the 2-0 loss in Tehran.
Qatar lost the away match on September 1 in Tehran, with both goals coming in second-half stoppage time.
Qatar are currently at the fifth spot with four points from five matches in the group which includes also includes South Korea, Uzbekistan, China, and Syria.
“We have big trust we can do it. We are confident of achieving the target. We have planned well and hopefully it will come off on the pitch,” said the Uruguay tactician on the eve of the match.
“All my players are confident and ready for the big task and the very very important task ahead,” he added.
Asked as to how difficult it will be to break into the rival defense which are yet to concede a goal in the third phase of qualifying Fossati said: “Iran has a compact defense and it is quite an achievement not to concede a goal.”
The Iranians currently lead Group A by a solitary point (11 points) from second-placed Korea Republic while Uzbekistan remain hot on their heels in third place in the group with 9 points.
Fossati’s opposite number, Queiroz on the other hand wish his opponents luck ahead of the qualifier and is hoping they join his team in the World Cup in Russia.
“Hope Qatar qualifies for the World Cup in Russia but not at the expense of Iran,” the Portuguese said.
“The Qatar authorities have been doing a good job in prompting football in the region and bringing the 2022 World Cup to Qatar is a good move which will lift the profile of the game in the country and in the region,” he said.
Syria lead the chasing pack but sit four points adrift of the Central Asians, while Qatar and China urgently require victories if they are to stand any chance of securing a top-three position.
Qatar got off to the worst possible start on the Road to Russia by suffering three defeats on the bounce but responded well by defeating Syria 1-0 and claiming a point in China.
On the other hand, Queiroz’s side are the only unbeaten team in Group A and are yet to concede a goal
The home side will be without four players through suspension with Khalid Muftah, Ahmed Yasser, Abdelkarim Hassan and Meshaal Abdulla all unavailable for selection.
For Iranians fans in Qatar, the cynosure of all eyes will be young Sardar Azmoun, Iran's top-scorer in the qualifying campaign with eight goals.
However, the experience of Reza Ghoochannejhad can't be understated considering his major contribution in firing Team Melli to Brazil 2014.
Despite starting on the bench, the 29-year-old forward showed a glimpse of his genius by coming on and breaking the deadlock against Qatar with an injury-time strike, which set them on the road to a 2-0 win.
After the Iran match, Qatar travel to Tashkent to take on Uzbekistan on March 28. Qatar next three matches are on June 13 against Korea Republic, Syria on August 31 while they conclude their engagements with a match against China on September 5.
The winner and runner-up of each group (four teams in total) will qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, while the third-placed teams of each group (two teams in total) will head to the play-off round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.