DOHA,April,16: Qatar are aiming to become one of the top four football playing nations in Asia, new coach Fahad Thani said yesterday.
Explaining reasons for his ambitious goal, Fahad said a packed calendar and formation of a second string will help Qatar, hosts of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, realise their dream.
The Qatari, after announcing a series of 14 international friendly matches from August this year until May 2014 – also hinted that ‘ageing legs’ will give way to ‘new blood’ in the coming weeks.
“It is important to have a target. If we are thinking of qualifying for FIFA World Cups, then first of all we need to be good at the Asian level,” Fahad, who took over in January this year, said in an exclusive interview.
“We have to be among the top four in Asia. I think this is the most realistic target of ours. Once we reach this target, then we can go to our remaining targets like reaching the World Cups with good performances,” he added.
“This is the challenge for us. We have to work hard,” Fahad said.
Japan is the top Asian country on the FIFA rankings computer followed by Korea and Australia.
Qatar, who have never reached the FIFA World Cup finals, are in 10th spot in Asia.
“Qatar has the potential of being one of the top nations in Asia. We have the infrastructure, we have the facilities,” Fahad said.
“What we have to do is rise at the international level. Like any other team, we need goals and targets to move ahead.”
The Qatar coach dismissed the notion that an overloaded itinerary for the national team would scuttle the ambitious plans of Qatar Football Association (QFA).
“This is very important because this (a series of matches) will allow the players to play better and raise their level. They need this kind of programme and stable planning for improving the standards and results associated with the national team,” Fahad said.
“We will continue with this plan until we reach our goals and targets of reaching the top,” he said.
When asked about bringing in new players, Fahad said: “Yes, time to have new legs in the team. Yes, we need more energy. Now we have to strike a balance. We have to be careful also of the kind of players who join the group. We have to get players who add more ability to our purpose. It is very important to make the changes now.”
He added: “You need experience and not-so-experienced players in the side. We need a mix of both. It is very important to transfer the experience to the juniors. This way the juniors keep growing in the national squads.”
Fahad said the new plan may take sometime before any degree of success could be predicted for ‘Al Anabi’.
“You can’t say how long this will take but you got to keep working,” Fahad said when asked about a timeframe on his plan.
“This is a long-term project. It might take one year or it may take two years.
“We don’t know. It all depends how we progress at each step of the way,” he explained.
“The blueprint has already been given to QFA. Whether I or the players are there or not, but this plan will ensure we reach our targets.
“They (QFA) have approved my plan and we will keep working to get the results,” Fahad said.According to Fahad, one of the ways to realise the ambitious plan is to form a second string.
“We need to have a B squad. The players who don’t get a chance on the seniors bench, can go to the B squad.“We need to have players with more matches in their legs. They need to run more in matches,” he said.
“I think we are capable of reaching the World Cup (in Brazil next year). Yes, it is difficult but manageable.“We can call this a transitional period for the team. It is a critical time but we have to play as a unit.
“We have to have the right elements in the formation of our teams. We have to blood new players. Some of the ageing players will have to go. The game against Korea (on March 26) has given us the confidence we were looking for. We have to play stronger teams, at the Asian level and worldwide as well.
“Physically we have to raise our standards and get better. That’s how we can go in the right direction. We need to finish this stage of qualification with purpose,” Fahad explained.
Fahad said four Qatari clubs playing in the AFC Champions League was a healthy sign.
“Four Qatari clubs are playing in the AFC Champions League. That means more matches for some of the national team players,” Fahad said.
“It is good that Qatari clubs are doing well in this year’s AFC Champions League. Their good performance is part of the QFA’s vision for clubs and players.
“We need a winning mentality. That helps in preparing successful teams,” he said.
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