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AFC Asian Cup 2023: No negative pressure says holders Qatar coach

By Akanksha - February 03, 2024 07:12 PM

The 18th edition of the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) quadrennial international football competition is now underway and is being held in 2023. After expansion in 2019, 24 national teams are participating, with Qatar serving as the current champions.

The AFC said on October 17, 2022, that Qatar will host the competition instead of China, the original host. Owing to the intense summer heat and Qatar's involvement in the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the competition was rescheduled for January 12–February 10, 2024, keeping the original name for sponsorship and organizational reasons.

There is pressure on Qatar, the Asian Cup hosts, to defend their championship at home. They will have to contend with Uzbekistan in the quarterfinals after defeating a resolute Palestine in their last game.

The 68,000-seat Al Bayt Stadium is anticipated to be full for the quarterfinal match. The hosts are optimistic that they can retain the championship they earned in the United Arab Emirates at the 2019 Asian Cup.

Just one month before the competition, Trentin Marquez, the new coach of Qatar, stated, 'For us, there is no negative pressure.'

Conversely, the players are driven and eager to succeed. We will feel positive pressure from this to win this crucial game.

Akram Afif, a prolific striker who has scored four goals in as many games, leads the Qatari team. The coach thinks his squad has the potential to be "the fastest" in the competition and hopes to keep the championship.

After defeating Thailand 2-1, the Uzbek squad advanced to the last eight in the championship match, proving that they are a formidable opponent.

Five first-choice players are out of the lineup for Srecko Katanec's club because of injury.

'We've been together for 2.5 years,' Katanec remarked. Something is amiss if they still don't know how to play by now. However, I'm sure they understand that we must be well-organized.

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