Abu Dhabi: An absorbing contest is on cards when Iraq take on Qatar in a Round of 16 tie of 2019 AFC Asian Cup at the Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. The actions starts at 8pm.
The two teams have been at their dominant best so far in the tournament. Iraq made it to the last 16 with wins against Vietnam (3-2), Yemen (3-0) and a goalless draw against Iran. Qatar made it to the last 16 by making a clean sweep — defeating Lebanon 2-0, DPR Korea 6-0 and Saudi Arabia 2-0.
Their striker Almoez Ali will once again be holding the key as he has been on a scoring spree — scoring seven of the 10 goals that his side has scored so far.
Iraq will be understandably vary about the striker’s ability that has seen him eclipse the six-goal record in a single tournament, held by Korea Republic’s Lee Dong-gook since 2000.
However, the knockout stage will be a completely different ballgame all together, felt Iraq coach Srecko Katanec.
“We have analysed their matches and they always start with the same set of players. They are a very good side and we have to approach the match having fully understood what is required of us,” said the Slovenian, adding that his side is in good form but they have to be on their toes against Qatar till the end.
“Jordan conceded their first goal of the tournament and that was enough to eliminate them from the tournament. Qatar will be a huge challenge as they are very adept in changing tactics and formations. My message to the players is that we must be quick to adapt against Qatar,” said Katanec, adding that the spirits within the team is great.
“We have been taking it one match at a time and I have not pressurised the players by saying we must win. The players, however, are determined to give their countrymen joy and we will give our best against Qatar.”
Qatar coach Felix Sanchez also echoed similar views as his counterpart. “The record does not mean a thing now after what happened to Jordan. This is the knockout stage and it all boils down to one match. One defeat and we go home,” he added.