Qatar football team players training on the eve of their 2015 Asian Cup qualifier against Malaysia at Aspire Academy. The match will take place at Al Sadd Stadium at 6.30pm.
DOHA: Qatar will be eyeing to pick up three points today when they host Malaysia in a 2015 Asian Cup qualifying game.
Coach Fahad Thani will be in charge of his first major international game after replacing predecessor Paulo Autuori who was removed after Qatar exited the Gulf Cup at the group stage last month.
Misfiring Qatar, who beat Lebanon in a friendly last week, are in Group D along with Yemen, Bahrain and today’s rivals Malaysia.
Last month, Autuori’s reign came to an abrupt end after Qatar failed to impress at the Gulf Cup, losing two games out of three.
Abdul Karim Hassan, who scored in the 64th minute, helped Qatar gain some confidence back when Qatar edged past Lebanon last week in an international friendly.
Coach Thani stressed his team was targeting a win against Malaysia managed by Datuk Rajagopal.
“The team is focused. Important game for us but I feel that match day will take precedence over everything else when we play Malaysia,” Thani said.
“My team is well aware of the importance of a game like this. We want to begin the qualifying stage with a win,” he added.
“We have the potential to tackle Malaysia and beat them. We are not taking them lightly but my players are ready to fight on the pitch.
“We know Malaysia and their tactics, their weaknesses and strengths. They may be missing a number of players but we are only looking at three points,” Thani explained.
“I want the players to fight. We are optimistic of a good result. The team has great support from the fans. We will build on the confidence given to us by our fans.
“The match against Lebanon (on January 31) is history. In that game, we tried a number of combinations and most of the players. We are playing a different side and we need a different tactic,” Thani added.
Rajagopal said Malaysia were missing a number of players due to injuries.
Malaysia, who lost 3-1 on aggregate to Thailand in the semi-finals of the AFF Suzuki Cup at the end of last year, arrived in Doha following a 3-0 defeat by Iraq on Friday with head coach missing a large contingent of regular players.
“We have important (10) players missing from this match due to injuries (picked up at the beginning of Malaysian league last month),” Rajagopal said.
“These players did not show the required fitness level and played matches, resulting in injuries,” he added.
“We know about the Qatari side and how they play. They are a strong bunch and not easy proposition when they play at home. We are here to win and collect three points. I believe we can do that. Qatar’s Khalfan Ibrahim, Ibrahim Magid and Qassim Burhan are in form.
“As a coach, I am doing everything to make the team play better with each game. Hopefully we could reach the standards that our fans expect of us.
“Most people say Bahrain and Qatar will advance from this Group D. But we don’t care for such predictions. We have had good results in the past and we can do it again. Hopefully we can reach Australia (in 2015),” Rajagopal added.
With the squad only just having re-grouped following a month off after the AFF Suzuki Cup, Rajagobal will be without Safee Sali, Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Wan Zack Wan Haikal and S Kunanlan due to injury, while captain Safiq Rahim is suspended. The Peninsula