By D. Chakraborty
Doha: The Qatar Under-23 football team’s hopes of qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio got a strong reality check at Al Arabi Stadium here yesterday when Brazil inflicted a comprehensive 4-0 defeat on the 10-man home side.
The loss wasn’t unexpected since Brazil started as heavy favourites, but the performance definitely revealed that Qatar need to pull up their socks if they wish to qualify for Rio.
A red card for Abdulrahman Al Harassi in the 35th minute also did not help Al Annabi’s cause.
The first 10 minutes of the match was the only time that Qatar seemed to be in the game as the Brazilians took some time to settle down. In fact a minute into the match, Ahmed Yasser Mohammadi broke forward threateningly but was brought down by Wallace Dos Santons — who got a yellow card for the challenge.
Slowly but surely the Selecao tightened their grip on the game — holding possession and using their superior size to dominate in the air.
Qatar had a narrow escape in the 17th minute when Lucas Silva’s free kick from the edge of the box missed the goal by a whisker.
Brazil came out strong after the water break — taken after 25 minutes — and defender Matheus Doria latched onto a pass near the Qatar goal line to open the scoring in the 30th minute.
Two minutes later Ademilson Braga scored his first goal with a powerful shot that was fumbled by Qatari goalkeeper Mohannad Naim.
Qatar’s gaps in defence were now exposed and the frustration began to show when Al Harassi brought down a Brazilian player outside his own box to earn his second yellow card — reducing the home side to 10 men.
Qatari goalkeeper Naim redeemed his earlier mistake by making a magnificent save in the 41st minute when he dived low to his left to save a strong header from a corner.
In the half-time break, Qatar made four substitutions but they didn’t help as Brazil scored their third goal in the 53rd minute.
Braga floated in behind the Qatari defenders and easily tapped home his second goal of the match.
By now Qatari coach Fahad Thani was angrily shouting out instructions. But Brazil managed to score a fourth goal when Barcelona player Rafinha Alcantara floated a beautiful pass to Vinicius Araujo who slotted it behind the net.
On Tuesday, Brazil coach Alexandre Gallo had said that every game had its “lessons”. After yesterday’s game, Brazil will surely try to do better from set pieces.
As for the Qatar team, their performance will certainly have put their preparations for the Olympic qualifiers in context. They will know that they have to beef up and better organise their defence if they want to trouble stronger sides.