Doha, 2 February 2024 - Spanish coach Bartolome Marquez Lopez, the head coach of the Qatari national football team, stressed his team's readiness to face Uzbekistan on Saturday at Al Bayt Stadium in the quarterfinals of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup hosted by Qatar.
"We have reached what we are looking for, we're in the quarter-finals and if anyone thinks we can't make it to the final that is up to them," the Spaniard said, the AFC website reported.
"There's no negative pressure on the players, they are well motivated. They want to win. There's going to be positive pressure for us to achieve in this very difficult game." Qatar have reached the quarter-finals in impressive form, winning four games in a row, scoring seven times and conceding just once, with key individuals such as former AFC Player of the Year Akram Afif and captain Hassan Al Haydos shining in particular.
"The quality of the players and the performance of the team mean we have made it to the quarter-final," said Lopes. "We have talented players and we have fast players, possibly the fastest players in the competition. But this is going to be a very physical game." Meanwhile, Goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb said that Qatar can go the distance against Uzbekistan in their AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 quarter-final on Saturday.
"I believe our game will be challenging, but we are determined to win and qualify for the next stage. I have played against some of the Uzbekistan players in the AFC Champions League (against FC Nasaf), so I'm familiar with their skills and what they are capable of," said the 33-year-old Al Sadd shot stopper.
"We have prepared very well, and I'm confident in the quality that we will bring into the match. The players are ready and we are confident of producing a good performance against Uzbekistan.
"As much as we want to win all the games, we are taking each match at a time, and our team is in good condition. I believe it is going to be a wonderful match." Despite having limited game time a 45-minute spell in Qatar's 1-0 win over China PR on Matchday Three - Al Sheeb firmly believes the bond in the squad is the same as when they won their maiden title in 2019.
"I've been with the team for such a long time (since 2009), and we thrive in a positive atmosphere. Our training camp and relationships go beyond just being colleagues; we are like brothers," said Al Sheeb, who won the AFC Asian Cup Golden Glove in 2019.
"We let our hair down after each win. But when it's time for the next match, we prepare well and we are very focused on achieving our goals."