22 Jan 2018 – 1:19
CHANGZHOU: Captain Ahmed Moein said he will be relying on the fighting spirit of his players when Qatar take on Vietnam in the semi-finals of the AFC U-23 Asian Cup tomorrow.
On Friday, Qatar edged Palestine 3-2 to seal their last-four berth after posting three wins in as many matches in the first stage of the 16-team tournament.
“It’s a new challenge for us,” Moein said yesterday after a training session. “There are many reasons for us to be in this position and for me the fighting spirit at this championship has done the job for us,” he added.
“The understanding and harmony among the players along with the fighting spirit has done us huge favours. We have done so well. I hope we play with the same team spirit against Vietnam also and reach the final,” Moein said.
Qatar, coached by Felix Sanchez, have beaten Uzbekistan, Oman, China and Palestine on their way to the semi-finals. It is a kind of deja vu for Al Anabi who sailed through the competition at the last edition of the U-23 event before losing to South Korea in the semi-finals in 2016.
Moein said the lessons have been learnt after a feisty contest in the quarter-finals.
“We have acknowledged and corrected the mistakes we had against the Palestinian side. Those mistakes cost us a lot. We have rectified our mistakes and we will be ready to Vietnam in a way that brings us the advantage and win that we are looking at,” the 21-year-old added.
“The clash against the Vietnamese team will not be easy. They played a great game against Iraq (in the quarter-finals). They are one of the best organized teams in this tournament. They have beaten strong teams in the tournament such as Australia,” Moein said.
“We will enter the game knowing we have remain focused and play with concentration. We have our instructions from our coach,” he said.
Star striker Almoez Ali, meanwhile, has urged his Qatar side to stay focussed in the game against Vietnam.
“It is amazing that I was able to score two (more goals), and I want to say congratulations to my team because we played a very good game,” Ali said following the win in which he scored two goals.
“Qualifying for the semi-finals is very important for us, and we are very happy to reach this stage (of the tournament). However, I will still tell my team that we must continue working hard if we are to win the title,” he added.
The tournament’s leading goal scorer is understandably looking to add to his tally of five goals.
“I hope I can continue to keep scoring and get more goals, and that my team keeps on winning until the end of the tournament. I hope we can win the title,” he added.
Ali Salat, the team’s media coordinator, said: “We are ready. The Qatar players are confident going into the semi-final. The players are quick to learn and are considered distinguished individuals. We can qualify for the final.”
Salat added: “The Qatar squad, led by coach Felix Sanchez, will put together the plan that will help us achieve our goal. We all have a great ambition to reach the final.”
The tournament ends on January 27.