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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 February 2019

Qatar manager wary of size of task of trying to beat Japan in Asian Cup final

Felix Sanchez says his side focused only on Friday's match as AFC investigation hangs over Gulf state

Qatar manager Felix Sanchez says he is wary of the challenge of trying to stop Japan from claiming a record fifth Asian Cup title.

Four-time champions Japan head into Friday’s tournament decider at Zayed Sports City as favourites, having dispatched Iran, Asia’s highest-ranked team, 3-0 in their semi-final on Monday.

“We know Japan is a very organised team," the Spaniard told reporters at a pre-match news conference in Abu Dhabi.

"They have many different ways to punish you. We will have a strategy how to deal with them and we are not going to talk about that. We have to play a very effective game and have to be excellent in every line of play.”

Qatar have reached the final having scored 16 goals while conceding none in their six matches, but Sanchez conceded facing the tournament’s most successful side was a whole new challenge.

“This is another one on a different situation against a team that has shown very high technical level of football,” he added.

“They are the most successful team in the history of the Asian Cup but we are looking for a good game tomorrow."

Qatar's preparations for the game have been hit by a formal protest by the UAE Football Association over the eligibility of two of their players, tournament top scorer Almoez Ali and Bassam Al Rawi, which is now being reviewed by the Asian Football Confederation.

But Sanchez said he was concentrating only on preparing his squad for the showdown with Japan.

“We are here to focus only in the competition and the game we play tomorrow. Any other things not related to football is not in our minds," he said.

“I’m not concerned at all but only in the game. We have 23 players but unfortunately one is injured. He is also with us supporting the team and working with us. So no worries.”

Sanchez was guarded on team selection but said he felt his squad had enough options to cause Japan problems.

“Obviously we had less options in the semi-finals with two players suspended [Al Rawi and Abdelaziz Hatim]," he said. "Everyone is available and that give us the possibility to choose. It is good for us. Our target when we arrived here was to test ourselves and we played six different teams and six different stories."

Updated: January 31, 2019 03:59 PM

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