In 21 editions, the host country of the World Cup has always passed the first round, with the exception of South Africa. Will Qatar replay the 2010 World Cup scenario? The question arises, as the selection of the Persian Gulf seems to move forward in a fog barely dispelled by a slew of friendly matches.
If many coaches, Didier Deschamps in the lead, have regretted approaching this World Cup without preparation, Qatar will start the competition in a very different context. The selection has been together since June and has played 18 friendly matches this year. So many opportunities to break in and oil the mechanics. “They have a goal and already back then there were automatisms, favorite races, etc. We clearly see a Spanish coach who has a real game plannotes Luc Holtz, coach of Luxembourg, who faced Qatar twice in 2021, for a draw (1-1) and a defeat (1-0). There is a real desire to play, to have control of the ball, to proceed by placed attacks. » A team “who likes to touch the ball, who knows how to control the ball. They have two or three very fast players, especially on the sides. adds Robert Jarni, coach of the Croatian U23s, winners of the Asian champions 3-0 in September, praising the qualities of the players “who know how to handle the ball well and are not afraid to go to the duel” .
The paw of coach Félix Sánchez Bas, former trainer of Barça, which he applies in a 5-3-2. “They take risks and don’t swing, I liked thatcomments Luxembourg midfielder Olivier Thill. The two full-backs were rising a lot, especially the right-back (Pedro Miguel, Editor’s note). He went back and forth, it was hard to defend. » His coach continues: “I think the choice of the five-man defense is due to the fact that they are aware of their level. It allows you to have one more defender on the field. They won’t be favourites, so their priority will certainly be to have good defensive stability. » To then sting via their best individualities. “They have two or three attacking players who can make a difference, able to proceed both in small spaces and over distance.explains Holtz, citing in particular Almoez Ali. He has all the qualities to be able to play in a European championship in my opinion. He is a spectacular player for the public, the most complete of this team. He would be able to hurt an opponent on his own. » As in the last Asian Cup, where he notably scored against Saudi Arabia and Japan.
Grains of sand
Far from the score against Serbia (4-0), Ireland (4-0) or Portugal (3-0) in the fall of 2021, Qatar has obtained some interesting results lately, like its draw against Chile at the end of September (2-2) or its narrow defeat at the gates of the Arab Cup final against Algeria, eleven months ago (1-2). “It depends on the opponent, but if we let them play too much, there is still qualityjudge Holtz. If they can play at their own pace, they are capable of hurting. » The reading of the Qatari hunting table nevertheless illustrates certain limits. His best catches over the last two years? Panama (currently 60e in the FIFA rankings), Iraq (69e), the United Arab Emirates (70e), Bulgaria (72e) and Oman (75e). The record in 2022 stands at eight wins, eight draws – notably against Slovenia (0-0) or Jamaica (1-1) – and two losses, against Canada (0-2) and the U23s of Croatia ( 0-3).
“They called us two days before to organize this matchsays the youth coach VatreniRobert Jarni. In two days, we brought together players from different clubs who were free. We expected a very complicated match, I thought it would be much more difficult. I don’t have an explanation… Our players were incredible, I’ve never seen an U23 selection play such a complete match. » Rarely impressive, sometimes astonishing, but occasionally disturbing, this Qatar “should have problems qualifying for the eighth” According to Luc Holtz: “On the defensive side, athletically, on impact, there are definitely nations that are going to cause them a lot of problems. I think the team will have problems with the intensity at the end of the match. They don’t have the experience of very high-level defenders, and against world-class players, the slightest mistake will pay off in cash. »
“It’s a well-prepared team physically. I think she has a decent level to play the World Cupbelieves Rudolf Turkaj, beaten by the Annabis with the Albanian selection on November 9 (1-0). I think they have every chance against Senegal and Ecuador. I tell myself : “Why wouldn’t that be the surprise of the group?” » The defender specifies however that his team, even amputated by several executives, did not “not felt inferior against a team that will play the World Cup” . Ditto for the Luxembourger Olivier Thill:“Footballically, I think we were the best team. The coach had made changes and I didn’t feel they were superior to Luxembourg. » Can a formation bothered by a bis Albania and a reshuffled Luxembourg hope to do well at the World Cup? The Qataris will have three times 90 minutes available to answer this question.
By Quentin Ballue
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