By Sports Reporter/ Doha
Qatar will lock horns with Oman in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Asian Qualifiers at the Al Janoub Stadium today, with the group’s top spot at stake. The match will start at 7.30pm.
Felix Sanchez’s men are top of the Group E with seven points from three matches, while Oman are one point behind they also have played a game less. The two sides are yet to be beaten in Group E, which also includes India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
“It’s going to be an important match for us and we hope we can win at home,” Qatar coach Felix Sanchez said.
“Oman are a good side. They are the Gulf Cup champions, so it’s important everyone puts in his best effort,” he added.
Reigning Asian champions and 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar still have to navigate their way through the qualifiers to earn a place in China 2023. Their journey started in style with a 6-0 defeat of Afghanistan in Doha, but things were not as straight forward when India visited, holding them to a goalless stalemate.
Qatar got back to winning ways last week, coming away from a difficult trip to rainy Bangladesh with a 2-0 win to put themselves at the summit of the group with seven points.
Qatar’s opponents today will be the toughest of their campaign so far. Oman snatched a hard-fought 2-1 win in India thanks to an added-time goal and they go into Qatar game boosted by a solid 3-0 home victory over Afghanistan that propelled them into second place with six points.
Today’s game will be their sixth encounter in the qualifiers and Oman are yet to get a win in the five previous attempts. Qatar won three times, the last of which came in the 2002 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
But considering the patchy form they are in, it won’t be a walk in the park for Qatar against a resurgent Oman side. Sanchez’s men are yet to replicate the kind of form, which made the Asian Champions at the turn of the year.
A match against fellow GCC side will be of special significance to Qatari fans and it will be also be a perfect motivation for the players to get back to their best. The focus will also be on forward Yusef Abdurusag, who has caught the eye with impressive performance against Bangladesh.
The 20-year-old bagged his first-ever goal for Qatar in Dhaka last week and is expected to make the playing XI today. Abdurusag is enjoying a breakthrough season in the QNB Stars League, with the on-loan Al Sadd winger playing a key role in Al Arabi’s good start to their campaign.
Abdurusag, who has represented Qatar at the U20 World Cup in Poland, has plenty of pace and is a constant threat in front of the goal and Sanchez will hope the young striker will show his skills in front of the home fans today.
Meanwhile, just 100 kilometres west of the India-Bangladesh border, the two nations face-off in Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium with just one point separating them at the bottom of Group E.
Despite the narrow margin, sentiment at the two camps could not be more different; the disappointment of an opening day 2-1 home defeat to Oman made way for excitement and optimism after India held Asian champions Qatar to a goalless draw in Doha last month to collect their first point of the campaign.
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