Felix Sanchez: UAE will be tough opponents in Asian Cup semi-final
Qatar manager wary of host nation as he prepares for Tuesday's last-four clash in Abu Dhabi
The UAE will present a tougher challenge than pre-tournament favourites South Korea in tonight’s Asian Cup semi-final, Qatar’s coach has predicted.
Felix Sanchez’s side were underdogs going into the quarter-final against the Koreans, but managed to win the tie 1-0 to reach the last four.
However, Sanchez said he believed tonight’s clash with the host nation at Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium would prove more difficult than last week’s game against a side that included one of the English Premier League’s star forwards in Son Heung-min.
“The players play a great game against one of the favourites … they perform at a very high level and well deserved the result,” Sanchez said of the quarter-final upset.
“Now, the one we are going to play [in the semi-final] is a different one, it is going to be even more difficult because when you are going forward in the competition every game is getting more and more difficult.
“So we are going to try to play in the right way to find the result we want. The good thing for us is the players are highly motivated and are ready to play the game so hopefully we will have the result that will give us the opportunity to continue in the competition.”
The 43-year-old admitted that a home crowd could give “extra motivation” to the UAE but talked up the psychological resilience of his players who have won all five games on their route to the semi-finals and have yet to concede a goal in the competition.
“The group is still ambitious, they want to keep going,” Sanchez added of the players he has led since July 2017. “To succeed in a tournament, you need to be strong as a group.
“Apart from the quality they show in each game, they need to be mentally strong, because it’s not easy to go game by game, and get the results that they get against the teams we’ve played.
“We are going to face a very strong opponent. They reach the semi-final in a tournament like this, it means they have a lot of strength.
“It is a very difficult team to defeat. They show, especially in the last game, very good organisation, and they have talented players also up front that can make the difference.”
Updated: January 29, 2019 08:33 AM