Saudi Arabia v Qatar: Top spot on the line in Group E

Victory for either Saudi Arabia or Qatar will secure top spot in Group E, with both sides having already sealed their Asian Cup progression.

Published : Jan 17, 2019 00:17 IST

Qatar forward and Asian Cup top goalscorer Almoez Ali's creativity will be vital for the side.
Qatar forward and Asian Cup top goalscorer Almoez Ali's creativity will be vital for the side.

Qatar forward and Asian Cup top goalscorer Almoez Ali's creativity will be vital for the side.

Top spot is on the line in Group E when Qatar and Saudi Arabia go head-to-head in Abu Dhabi in the Asian Cup on Thursday.

Both teams have won their opening two matches to secure progression to the knockout stages, with Qatar leading the way thanks to their 6-0 thrashing of North Korea last time out.

They have never finished top in the group stage, though, providing fresh motivation for Felix Sanchez's men against one as Asia's heavyweights.

Qatar has an excellent record against the three-time winner with three wins, four draws and one defeat from its previous eight meetings.

The form of Almoez Ali has been a particular highlight for the 2022 World Cup host, but goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb says the unity within Qatar's squad is what is driving the side forward this year.

"Our strength, as I said, lies in our team spirit. The coach has prepared us well, whether in attack or defence," he said.

READ: South Korea 2 China 0: Son sets the standard as Bento's men take top spo t

"Almoez and Akram [Afif] are very good players and with the help of the other players, have helped Qatar progress. We are one team - whether the 11 players who start, those on the bench and the coaching staff.

"Our spirit is high as we really want to do well in the Asian Cup. We have worked very hard and will continue doing so as we want to progress as far as we can in the competition.

"When we came here, it was with the plan of taking it one game at a time. After two wins, our confidence has been boosted. We will prepare well for the match and our aim is to get the three points."

After two comfortable group games, Saudi Arabia will provide a sterner test in the battle for top spot, and the Green Falcons' boss Juan Antonio Pizzi says his side is determined to climb above its final opponent.

"We will try to do our utmost to win," the Argentine told a media conference. "We will play with all our strength and whatever opponent we face [in the knockouts] we are ready for them.

"What matters is tournaments is good results, and that is what happened in our first two games against Lebanon and North Korea."

Forward Fahad Al Muwallad added: "Our qualification does not mean that we underestimate the importance of the game. We promise to play every game with maximum strength."


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