Bengaluru/Doha, December 28: Qatar's status as host nation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup will no doubt increase the scrutiny of the country's performances in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup and no wonder their Spanish coach Felix Sanchez wants the team to raise the bar higher.
Qatar had a poor outing in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup held in Australia, crashing out in the group stage after loosing all the three matches.
Come January, the 'Anabi Brigade' hopes to leave that disappointment behind and put their best foot forward.
At the 2019 AFC Asian Cup to be held in the UAE from January 5 to 31, Qatar are drawn along with Lebanon, DPR Korea and three-time champions Saudi Arabia in Group E.
Groupe E:🇫🇷Football Qatari 🇶🇦 (@QatarFoot_fr) December 25, 2018
Coach: Félix Sanchez Bas, espagnol, depuis juillet 2017
Classement FIFA: 93ème
Palmarès vierge de grandes compétitions
Stade: Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, 40 000 places
Joueur à suivre: Akram Afif, ailier, 22 ans, Al Sadd, en prêt de Villareal CF pic.twitter.com/4q2s9IwksJ
Qatar will kick off their campaign in Al Ain on January 9 against Lebanon and Sanchez wants his team to start on a positive note.
"The Asian Cup is an event for us to show where we stand in Asia," Sanchez told AFC media channel.
Qatar's form in recent times have been good. They have notched up wins over Kyrgyz Republic and Jordan this month as they fine-tune their preparations, while a draw with Iceland and a surprise win over Switzerland in November have shown the strides being made by Sanchez and his team in the build-up to the AFC Asian Cup.
"The AFC Asian Cup is one of the titles we are looking for and the players have prepared well. It's a great challenge, but we have a bunch of very talented players," said Sanchez.
While the FIFA World Cup looms in the distance, Sanchez stressed his team are looking to prove their status among the best teams in Asia after notching up a third place finish at the AFC Under-23 Championship in China in January, 2018.
"Doing well at the AFC Asian Cup is a personal challenge, especially after we did so well at the AFC U23 Championship in China at the start of the year.
"Our long-term goal, of course, is to be ready to fight at home at the World Cup in 2022, and playing at the Copa America next year is also part of that," he added.
Source: AFC Media