Host Qatar may be under extra pressure at the Asian Cup after winning the right to host the 2022 World Cup, but it vowed to shrug it off when it faces Uzbekistan in the tournament opener on Friday.
“The pressure on our team is very high because we will organise the World Cup in 2022,” Qatar coach Bruno Metsu said on the eve of their Group A match.
“The players want to show something to Qatar and to the world,” added the 56-year-old Frenchman, who guided Senegal to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals.
The two sides are grouped with 2004 hosts and runners-up China and Kuwait, which won their first Gulf Cup in 12 years late last year.
Qatar hope to silence critics who have pointed to its lack of football pedigree despite being future World Cup host.
It has never qualified for the World Cup and their previous best showing in the Asian Cup was a quarterfinal exit at the hands of China in 2000.
It has acquired some foreign implants over years, including Urguayan-born striker Sebastian Soria and Brazilian-born midfielder Fabio Cezar. Homegrown 22-year-old Jarallah Al Marri has developed himself into a key marksman.
Praful Patel elected
Meanwhile, All India Football Federation president Praful Patel was on Thursday elected as an executive committee member of the Asian Football Confederation during the AFC Congress in Doha.
Patel, who on Wednesday pulled out of the race for the post of vice-president, was one of the three elected to the executive committee from South—Central Zone. He got 26 votes in his favour.
The two others elected from South-Central Zone were Makhdoom Syed Faisal Hayat (Pakistan) and Ali Azim (Maldives). — AFP