Although there is a gulf of quality between the two sides in terms of the FIFA rankings, Asian champions Qatar will not be taking hosts Bangladesh lightly when they meet today in a joint qualifier of the World Cup and Asian Cup.
“We really wish for a good thing like a win, but everyone knows it will not be easy because Asian football today is totally different. It’s not like there are big and small teams; we are all the same,” Qatari striker Ali Hassan Afif Yahya said at a pre-match press conference at the BFF House yesterday.
“I believe there are no small or big teams. I believe in the correct spirit of the players -- about what they want or don’t want -- and this will make the difference in tomorrow’s game. We came here with a strategy and good preparation. Of course, we are not satisfied with the Indian result [a 0-0 draw]. We want three points but honestly we know it won’t be easy and we have do our best. We trust ourselves, we believe in ourselves. I hope it will be good for us,” Afif added.
The visitors might have seemed serious, but their arrival in the early hours of the day before the match says something else entirely. Qatar are a strong side with naturalised footballers like Sudanese-born Alimoez Ali and Musab Khidir, Egyptian-born Ahmed Alaaeldin, Algerian-born Boualem Khoukhi, Spanish-born Karim Boudiaf and Iraqi-born Bassam Husham Alrawi.
Coach Felix Sanchez also seemed cautious but wants to leave with three full points, especially after the result against India.
“It is a matter of opinion whether we did well or not against India. We played our game. Obviously, we would prefer a result because it is football. As Ali said, there are no favourites. If you want to be favourites, you need to deliver on the pitch. We are going to try to improve our level and performance and play our game in line with our strengths. We will try to get good result but we know it’s going to be difficult because of the level of their position and many other facts,” the Spaniard said, opining that Bangladesh may have an advantage from long throw-ins.
“We watched Bangladesh’s last game and know their strengths. Set pieces such as long throw-ins are a good opportunity for them. They prefer more organised attacks. They will try to play their way and we will try to play our way.”