Sanchez says Qatar’s Al-Annabi ready to exceed expectations at World Cup

Qatar’s Felix Sanchez is pumping up expectations ahead of his team’s debut at the country’s first World Cup in less than 20 days.

Speaking to the Spanish newspaper Marca, Sanchez admitted that expectations aren’t high for Qatar, but he knows the team can excel at home.

“We will face teams that have reached the finals of a World Cup, are champions of Africa. Many players are the best in the world in their positions, with World Cup and Champions League experience,” said Sanchez during the interview.

“So we know what our role is, we know that we are not favourites but also, within our possibilities, we must set high expectations, high goals, try to compete to the maximum.”

Citing the Maroon’s attacking offence and defensive side, Sanchez credited his squad for their tactical approach in matches.

“We have talented players, we try to play as a unit, and on the counter we can be dangerous. When we have the ball we try to manage, although we know that against opponents of this level it is very difficult to take the initiative, and we will have to adapt because that is the reality,” Sanchez told Marca.

Additionally, the Spanish football coach, who has been managing Qatar since 2017, referenced the team’s past achievements that led them to where they are today.

“We have had a good preparation programme, taking into account that we are Qatar, a small country with little experience, with players who have always played in Qatar, in a minor league.”

“Being able to give them this international experience by playing tournaments like the Gold Cup or Copa America, as well as friendlies, has prepared us, although it will never be the same scenario or the same situation,” he added.

Ahead of the Al-Annabi match against Ecuador, Sanchez hopes his young team will focus despite opening game nerves.

“We have our routine, we try to isolate ourselves from the noise around us and focus on getting our best performance. It’s difficult because then you go onto the pitch, you see 60,000 people. It’s the first World Cup match, and there’s so much expectation that it’s hard, but that experience will help them.”

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