Tashkent, 1 June 2022 - Qatar had finished third in the previous edition of the AFC U-23 Asian Cup and this time the Al Annabi youngsters are aiming for a better show at Uzbekistan 2022, which kicks off today.
The Nicolas Cordova-coached side will begin their campaign with their Group A clash against Iran today, knowing a strong start will be vital for them in their bid to go far in the 16-team tournament.
Qatar U-23 team underwent extensive preparations ahead of the tournament which includes several friendlies, an overseas training camp in Baku, Azerbaijan besides their participation in a Dubai Friendly Championship.
After their opening match at Tashkent’s Bunyodkor Stadium which kicks off at 4pm (Qatar time), Qatar will meet Uzbekistan on June 4 before facing Turkmenistan in their final group match on June 7.
Cordova said his team is ready for the challenge against Asia’s best sides.
“We are generally satisfied with the games (friendlies), because we always look for opportunities to improve and be better,” Cordova said at a press conference yesterday.
“We know that it’s going to be a tough tournament. The qualification itself was tough. All the teams have the potential to win the tournament.”
“The teams in this tournament are very good, but it’s about ourselves and competing in our best way. We can’t talk about the minimum (target), but the maximum target is to prepare for each game in the best way and to be ready and competitive. If we are well prepared, we can aim to go far,” he added.
Cordova was also confident that the Al Annabi youngsters can emulate Almoez Ali and Akram Afif, who were phenomenal in the 2018 AFC U23 Asian Cup before they helped Qatar in winning the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 title.
“We have a good young generation. Still, we have to take into consideration that we’re participating with a younger team than usual, which is part of our long term project to prepare them. I’m sure the future will be the same, where we have good players moving to the national team,” he said.
Meanwhile, Iran head coach Mehdi Mahdavikia said: “We are here with a very young team but with big goals. This will be a great experience for us. There are a lot of difficult teams in our group, but we will do our best to have the best results.”
“We have the tournament hosts Uzbekistan, a powerful team in Qatar and a respected team in Turkmenistan. We respect all our rivals, but we want to have the best results in the group,” he added.
Group stage - Group A
Qatar vs Iran
At Bunyodkor Stadium (Tashkent)
Uzbekistan vs Turkmenistan
Pakhtakor Stadium (Tashkent)