Qatar coach Bruno Pinheiro has declared that Qatar’s next target is to reach the AFC U-19 Championship Indonesia 2018 final after Sunday’s entertaining 7-3 extra-time win over Thailand saw them progress to the competition’s last four.
An incredible game saw the West Asians take a 2-0 lead, before being forced to rely on Ahmed Suhail’s 87th minute equaliser to take the game into extra-time. Four further goals in the additional half an hour subsequently saw the 2014 champions edge closer to a Continental title showdown and, in the process, seal a place at next year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Whilst delighted with Qatar’s World Cup spot at Poland in 2019, Pinheiro is already eyeing more success for his talented young charges – starting with the semi-final clash against South Korea, who defeated Tajikistan 1-0 yesterday.
“We are of course very proud to be going to the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup. A lot of people have been working very hard to make this happen and I am sure that all of Qatar will be proud of the players,” he said.
“We now have three days to recover both physical and mentally before our semi-final. Our target now is, of course, to reach the final of the U-19s, because when you are in the last four, that is all you want to do – win the game and be in the final.
“We never think too far ahead though. We will focus on the semi-final where we intend, once again, to play the way we play – that is our main weapon. We will do everything we can to go through and maintain our own style throughout as that will give us the best chance of reaching the final.”
Pinheiro was, however, was unable to explain the reasons behind Qatar allowing their opponents back into the game after half-time, as they had done against Indonesia on Matchday Two.
“This is not the first time this type of situation has happened. We played well in the first half and then our opponents come back after half-time, only for us to finish the game well,” he said.
“Maybe it can be explained by the fact that these players are relatively inexperienced. Maybe they relax at certain moments of the game. I am not overly sure if it is that, but it could well be.
“But despite what happened, we were able to recover well and score four goals in extra-time that took us through. We are very happy.” Despite Thailand’s defeat, head coach Ithsara Sritharo feels there are plenty of positives he can take away from the tournament.
“Overall, I feel we have an excellent experience playing here in Indonesia. We can take plenty of positives away with us from this competition – positives which we hope will help the team grow stronger and become better players going into their next competition,” he explained.
“We have had a lot of very good experiences, especially playing against strong teams such as those we faced in the group stage and Qatar.
“We are delighted by how we were able to fight back when we were losing, but obviously very disappointed by how we conceded the goals. We could have finished the game off within the 90 minutes when we were leading 3-2, but we just couldn’t.
“It came down to how much strength and stamina the teams had – and Qatar were better at that.”