DOHA, Qatar: More than a victory against Oman on Tuesday or topping the group in their 2022 FIFA World and 2023 Asian Cup joint qualification, Qatar national coach Felix Sanchez is now more focused on upgrading the squad by bringing in younger players.
The Asian champions face second-placed Oman in Group E match at Al Janoub Stadium hoping to garner full points against their Gulf neighbours.
Long-term strategy boosts team
But Sanchez has shown that he’s more interested on a long-term strategy to groom youngsters before the World Cup which will be held here three years from now.
“For us, it’s not about the age, but the capabilities to play for Qatar,” Age is not important to offer international opportunities to represent the national team,” Felix said here on Monday.
Yusef Abdurusag, who bagged his first-ever goal with the senior side against Bangladesh last week, is a prime example of the trust that Sanchez has put in on some of the juniors.
The 20-year old winger has been one of the stand out players in the Qatar Stars League this season. He has developed quickly under the former Iceland boss Heimir Hallgrimsson at Al Arabi, where he joined on loan from Al Sadd.
Abdurusag, the new star?
Blessed with a plenty of pace, Abdurusag, who represented Qatar at the U20 World Cup in Poland, is seen as a competitor for fellow former Aspire Academy graduate Akram Afif.
In fact, the Spaniard is not resting on his laurels after guiding Qatar to their maiden 2019 AFC Asian Cup victory in January this year. Instead, Sanchez has drafted a couple of juniors including Abdurusag to bolster the squad before 2022 World Cup.
“We want to go one step forward,” said Sanchez of Tuesday’s match. “Our objective is to qualify and top the group. All the opponents in the group has the same target. That’s why the match is important for us too.”
Qatar has wins against Afghanistan and Bangladesh, but got stuck in a goalless draw with India at home last month.
“It’s a key game for us. We’re motivated to do well against Oman,” added Felix, who started his coaching career in Qatar at the Aspire Academy.