Qatar gear up for Iran clash
19 Mar 2017 - 23:43
By Chinthana Wasala / The Peninsula
Qatar stepped up a gear ahead of their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying game later this week by playing the national Olympic squad at Al Sadd Stadium.
Coach Jorge Fossati, leading the charge with the national senior side, gave every player match practice against a side coached by Felix Sanchez.
Qatar, who will host Iran on March 23 at the same venue, will be looking for full points against Iran in a bid to advance to the fourth round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.
The kick-off set for the clash on Thursday is set for 7:00pm.
Few days ago, Qatar coach Fossati named a strong squad for the Iran qualifier by including strikers Sebastian Soria andRodrigo Tabata who are likely to partner forwards Hassan Al Haydos and Bualem Khokhi.
Qatar recorded victories over Syria (1-0), Russia (2-0) and Moldova (1-1) in friendlies but lost their home game against Azerbaijan (1-2).
Last night's friendly against the Olympic squad was part of the friendlies planned ahead of the March 23 clash.
The Iranian footballers arrived in Qatar yesterday and will begin their training today. Iran, who are currently occupying the top spot of Group A of the Asian Zone qualifiers, will be under close supervision of their Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz at the Qatar Football Association’s Technical Development Department pitch 2.
They will attend two further training sessions tomorrow, before their official training session which will take place at Al Sadd Stadium on the eve of the all-important clash.
The visitors will be looking for a strong come back after being defeated by Iraq in a friendly match at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium on Saturday, but Qatar are aiming to gain the most out of the advantage of playing in front of a home crowd.
Qatar are currently at the fifth spot with four points from five matches and will have to win maximum points from their remaining five matches to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Russia.
Iran tops the standings of Group A of the Asian Zone qualifiers with 11 points, followed by South Korea (10 points), Uzbekistan (9 points) and Syria (5 points).
After the Iranian encounter, Qatar will head to Uzbekistan for their next qualifier, where they meets the hosts at the Bunyodkor Stadium in Tashkent on March 28.
For Iran, the next opponent will be China. The game will take place at the Azadi Stadium on the same day.