Doha, Qatar: Qatar will be keen to continue their roaring form as they take on India in the second match of the World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 qualifying campaign at Al Sadd Stadium in Doha on Tuesday.
Asian champions Qatar turned on the style to thrash Afghanistan 6-0 in their first match last week, with Almoez Ali bagging a hat-trick.
Though the win, on record, helped Qatar end their four-match winless run, Al Annabi have never failed to impress after their Asian Cup triumph in the UAE.
Their defeats after that triumph came at the hands of Brazil in a friendly, and Argentina and Colombia at the Copa America, while Felix Sanchez’s men held Paraguay to a 2-2 draw in the South American continental competition.
Those results have only made Qatar tougher and stronger and they will start as firm favourites against India on Tuesday.
Coach Sanchez said they were ready for the challenge of India.
“It’s another game another challenging one,” said Sanchez at the pre-match press conference. “We are confident that we will play a good game tomorrow.
The Spaniard was lavish in praise of his players when asked about the secret of the team’s success.
“The most important reason for our success is the players we have. We have very talented players and that’s why we won the Asian Cup in the UAE," said the Spaniard.
“We put in a lot of work, we try to keep improving. Our first target is to qualify for the Asian Cup and of course to have a good team to compete in the 2022 World Cup. The players are working very hard they are very committed to playing at the highest level," he said.
India coach Igor Stimac said anything was possible in football, even though he conceded that Qatar were too strong.
“In football everything is possible. You never give up, do your best. To talk too much about Qatari players is not necessary,” said Croatian Stimac who was in Charge of Qatar Stars League side Al Shahania in 2016-17.
“They are becoming very strong not just in Asia, but they can match many European national teams. In a couple of years, they will be able to play the very best.
“Their physical strength is great, their speed is fantastic. Their technical ability and movements are brilliant so when I look now and study the Qatari team, it’s difficult to find weak points,” said Stimac.
The former defender who was in the team when Croatia finished third in the World Cup in 1998, said India have a good chance to progress from the group.
India suffered heartbreak in the first game against Oman as they led till the 82nd minute only to lose the match 2-1 and Stimac said they need to improve their defending.
“We need to improve our defending in the final moments of the game and also our finishing.
“If everything goes well against Afghanistan and Bangladesh we will get a chance to surprise Oman in the away game," said Stimac.
But the match against Qatar on Tuesday will undoubtedly be the toughest challenge in the group for India.