Queiroz reminds players to stay grounded ahead of Panama test

2023-07-08 | Since 3 Month


Dallas, 8 July 2023 - Qatar coach Carlos Queiroz has reminded his players to stay grounded ahead of their 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup quarter-final against unbeaten Panama tomorrow (Sunday 2:00am Doha time).
The reigning AFC Asian Cup champions booked a knockout stage spot after stunning pre-tournament favourites Mexico in their final group match to advance as the Group B runners-up behind their defeated opponents.
For the 2021 semi-finalists, Panama will be another stern test as Qatar, who missed injured striker Almoez Ali throughout the group stage, are dealing with suitable replacements for as many as six of their top players who will be missing the quarter-final due to suspensions.
Queiroz, handling Qatar for the first time in a tournament, heaped praises on his players for defeating a Mexico side ranked 14th in the world but reminded them that the journey has only just begun.
“Congratulations for this performance. Great team effort and attitude. The result rewarded your will to win and your fighting spirit against all the odds,” said Queiroz in an Instagram post.
“Certainly, we still have a long way to go, to be where we want to be. But for sure we are not where we start. Do we change? No, we are growing up. Let’s keep humble and be ready for the next one.”
Qatar kicked off their Concacaf Gold Cup campaign with a heart-breaking 2-1 defeat to Haiti, with the winner being scored deep into added time.
Another late goal saw Honduras snatching a 1-1 draw on matchday two, leaving Qatar needing a win against Mexico to advance to the knockout stage for the second successive edition.
Hazem Shehata’s 27th minute goal gave the West Asian side the lead, which they protected admirably against a dominant Mexico side to advance ahead of Honduras on goal difference.
Al Annabi will miss striker Yousuf Abdurisaq, who will be absent for a second match in a row following direct expulsion in the match against Honduras - due to a tangle of hands with Honduras’ Castillo, who was expelled.
Also sitting out will be Qatar’s star goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham, who was outstanding against Mexico making many brilliant saves, along with defender Tarek Salman, midfielders Mohamed Waad and Ahmed Fathi and striker Tamim Mansour Moftah will miss the match after receiving yellow cards in consecutive matches.
These absences represent a major headache for the team’s Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz but aims to work hard to find alternatives.
Although Queiroz has opted for a squad consisting of many new faces, Panama will be familiar opponents, with their 2021 meeting in the group stage ending in a 3-3 draw.
After sitting out of the Mexico match due to suspension, defender Bassam al-Rawi will return for the Panama clash with Mohamad Muntari likely to spearhead the attack if Almoez fails to attain complete fitness for the match.
Fathi, one of the few senior players in the squad, said Qatar are relishing their Concacaf Gold Cup challenges.
“The Gold Cup tournament is important for us. It’s a wonderful experience for everyone, particularly the young faces,” said Fathi.
“We will start our (FIFA) World Cup qualifiers campaign (this November) and then defend our (AFC) Asian Cup title (early next year). It’s our dream to achieve success in our two major challenges, and the Gold Cup will help us gain more experience before these events,” the midfielder said to local media.
Midfielder Abdullah Marafih praised the strong performance of Al Annabi in the past matches, especially against Mexico, and the team’s success in qualifying for the quarter-finals.
“This is only the beginning and we still have more to offer in the next stage, starting with the Panama match,” Marafih said.
Another Qatari midfielder Abdulla al-Maarafi said the team is targeting a better show than its debut in the tournament two years ago when the team reached the semi-finals.
“We have a lot more to offer in the tournament with Panama being our next challenge. We want to reach far in the tournament and all of us are working towards the goal despite the challenges we are facing,” said al-Maarafi.


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