(MENAFN - The Peninsula)Qatar coach Felix Sanchez (left) speaking during a press conference on the eve of their 1st WAFF U23 championship at Radisson Blu Hotel Doha yesterday. With him are Jamal Abu Abed (second left) coach of Jordan Abdalfatah Arar (second right) coach of Palestine Abd Ameen Al Sunaini (right) coach of Yemen and a WAFF official. RIGHT: Sanchez.Pictures by Kammutty VP
Doha: Hosts Qatar will take a ‘step by step’ approach in the U23 West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) championship which kicks off today at the Lekhwiya Stadium.
Coach Felix Sanchez approach to the championship will not be different from the other participating teams all who are treating the inaugural U23 WAFF championship as a perfect ‘test’ to prepare for next years’ AFC Asian U23 tournament which will be held in Doha in January.
“We will take this tournament as good test for us. It is a good preparation for the Asian Cup in January. The matches will help us to good for us to see the level of our game to see where we are for the January event. Looking forward to playing these games and hopefully we will have a good performance” said Sanchez boys ahead of their Group A opening match.
Qatar will open their campaign against Palestine followed by a second match against Jordan on October 3 and Sanchez’s side will conclude the preliminary stage with a clash against Yemen on October 6 the four-team group.
“We have started a new process within this group (U23) it’s a mixed team for the U23 from the one that played in the U20 World Cup in New Zealand we are trying to build the team to see how they are doing it will take some time. Tournaments like this one will be a great chance for players to see them play as a team. Hopefully at the end of the tournament we will have an idea of where we are as a team” added the Spaniard.
Sanchez said the tournament will help him assess their weak and strong points ahead of the AFC U23 event.
“We need to play three hard games. We are trying to prepare for the tough matches. We are taking the step by step approach. After the initial game we will see how the team is. The first three games are going to be very important for us.
“We are going to take this tournament as a preparation for the Asian Cup this means that we need to see our level try to win games. this is a target for all the teams and also for us to reach as far as we can in the competition and we are preparing this team to be competitive” he added.
Among the ten participating teams only Bahrain Oman and Palestine have failed to qualify for the U-23 Asian Cup where 16 teams will be seen in action.
The Palestine coach Abdalfatah Arar said the tournament will be a perfect exposure for his players.
“We thank the QFA for giving us the chance to participate. It is a chance to prepare this team for the future. We never reached the finals of the Asian Cup but we are preparing the team for the future.”
Arar said the team faced a lot of off field issues ahead of the Doha trip.
“The issue of travelling and transportation is one of the major issue and it is difficult to get players from Gaza.”
The Palestine official said today’s match against Qatar will be a tough one. “We know the level of Qatar football. They are very strong but we are ambitious and hopefully we will play good matches that will reflect the quality of the Palestine football.
“It is true that preparation phase were very short. Hopefully we will play excellent matches that will reflect the nature of the Palestine game and establish a team that will be able to handle tougher teams in the future” he added.
The tournament proceedings will kick off with the first match of the day between Jordan and Yemen of Group A. Oman UAE and Syria Saudi Arabia Bahrain and Iran are the other teams competing in the event.