North Korea v Qatar: Patience the key for Sanchez

Qatar failed to set pulses racing in its opening win over Lebanon, but Felix Sanchez wants his players to commit to their approach.

Qatar's Abdelkarim Hassan   -  Getty Images

Felix Sanchez remains committed to Qatar's patient playing style despite his team failing to impress in its Asian Cup opener.

The 2022 World Cup host is back in action against North Korea on Sunday, having secured a laboured 2-0 win over Lebanon in its first Group E match.

Goals from Almoez Ali and Bassam Al Rawi got the job done and former Barcelona youth coach Sanchez, who has been in the post 18 months, sees no reason to change course.

"Each match is different and we cannot renounce the way we play," he said. "It's difficult to change now, but we need to find solutions to be more close to the opposition's goal.

"But in front you always have an opponent and Lebanon showed they're a well organised team and they were very physical. This was the first game and it's never easy to do the right thing all the time in the first game.

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"But the team showed they were patient enough and, hopefully, in the next game we will perform better and do something that we couldn't do in the last game."

If the evidence of its 4-0 thumping at the hands of Saudi Arabia last time out is anything to go by, North Korea might well provide obliging opponent for Sanchez and his players to refine its approach.

Head coach Kim Yong-jun will be without Han Kwang-song after his striker was sent off against the Saudis.

Nevertheless, he is choosing to look on the bright side.

"I can say that without him there will be some affect but I don't think it will be too big because we have some good players like our captain, Jong Il-gwan, and Pak Kwang-ryong, who plays in Austria," said Kim.

"So I don't think there will be a big affect for the second match."

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PLAYERS TO WATCH

North Korea – Jong Il-gwan

File Photo: Jong Il-Gwan of North Korea (#11) in action against South Korea in EAFF E-1 Men's Football Championship.   -  Getty Images

 

Perugia forward Han's absence means it could be a solo mission for skipper Jong. The 26-year is comfortably the most experienced outfield player in Kim's squad and one of four to ply his trade in Europe – currently under contract at Luzern in Switzerland.

Qatar – Abdelkarim Hassan

Abdelkarim Hassan of Qatar competes with Abdullah Otayf of Lebanon during the AFC Asian Cup Group E match.   -  Getty Images

 

Qatar was rather listless against Lebanon until 2018 AFC Player of the Year Hassan entered the fray for the final half hour. Sanchez would not confirm whether the left-sided player would be in from the start against North Korea, but Qatar certainly looks a stronger side with the Al Sadd man involved.

KEY OPTA FACTS
- Going into its first Asian Cup meeting with Qatar, North Korea has lost each of its past six group games – the longest losing streak of any team at the 2019 competition.
- Qatar is looking to win its opening two Asian Cup group games for the first time in its history.
- North Korea has scored just four goals in its previous 11 Asian Cup matches, never scoring more than once in this run (D2 L9).
- Almoez Ali has scored five goals in his seven most recent appearances for Qatar, netting with his only shot on target in its opening game against Lebanon.

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