Qatar captain says reaching Asian Cup final proved critics wrong

By AFP   February 9, 2024 | 05:00 pm PT
Qatar captain Hassan Al-Haydos said the Asian Cup hosts and defending champions have proved their critics wrong by reaching Saturday's final against Jordan.

Tintin Marquez was parachuted in to replace Carlos Queiroz as coach just a month before the tournament, sparking criticism in some quarters.

But the Spaniard's impact has been immediate, leading Qatar to their second consecutive final.

Haydos said his team's "professional mentality" has allowed them to take it in their stride and he shot back at those who had written them off.

"A month before the tournament, no one thought we would reach the final and no one thought we would deliver performances like this," he said on Friday.

"But working with the coach, I think the team was able to reach this level because of the efforts of the players and the unity in the team."

Hassan Al Haydos (L) celebrates his goal in Qatars 1-0 victory over China in the Asian Cup 2023 group stage on Jan. 22, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa

Hassan Al Haydos (L) celebrates his goal in Qatar's 1-0 victory over China in the Asian Cup 2023 group stage on Jan. 22, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa

Qatar won their first Asian title in 2019 and now surprise packages Jordan are all that stand in their way of another.

Marquez's side booked their place in the final with a hard-fought 3-2 semi-final win over Iran, with striker Almoez Ali hitting an 82nd-minute winner.

Marquez has used all 26 players in his squad -- including all three goalkeepers -- and he said that "every player has contributed" to their run to the final.

"Some have played more than others but they have all had a role to play," said the coach.

"It's a very important part of our system and philosophy."

Qatar have had one day less to prepare than Jordan, who reached their first final after a deserved 2-0 win over Son Heung-min's South Korea.

Qatar had to fight until the end to see off Iran in their semi-final and almost conceded an equaliser in the final minute when Alireza Jahanbakhsh hit the post.

Marquez said the players "are not machines" and have spent most of their time since the semi-final recovering.

The Spaniard expects the final at the 88,000-capacity Lusail Stadium to be "a match between brothers".

"But even between brothers there is competition," he said.

"I might play tennis with my brother but I would play to win."

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