The Asian Cup champions Qatar will neutralize Neymar and his talented Brazil team when the two sides meet in a glamorous friendly match ahead of the Copa America 2019, according to Qatar’s coach Felix Sanchez.
Qatar are to make their Copa America debut in Brazil as one of two invitee teams to the South American tournament alongside Japan, making their second appearance.
Brazil will host Qatar in the capital Brasilia on June 5 before the World Cup 2022 hosts face a Brazilian club side in their second friendly match. Qatar are in Group B alongside Argentina, Colombia and Paraguay.
Qatar will open their campaign against Paraguay on June 16, while Brazil are in Group A alongside Bolivia, Venezuela and Peru.
Sanchez, who guided Al Annabi to a historical Asian Cup title in January, signed an improved contract with the Qatar Football Association until 2022.
The Spaniard has spent much of his coaching career in Qatar, working at the Aspire Academy before leading the nation to the Asian Under-19 title in 2014 and has a long-standing relationship with many of the current squad members.
Speaking at a press conference at the Aspire Academy on Tuesday, Sanchez said: “It will be an interesting matchup against Brazil. They have Neymar but we will try to minimize his strength, whether he plays or not, Brazil has talented players.
“We want to gain more experience and see how close we are to the South American teams ahead of bigger opponents and competitions,” Sanchez added.
“We had a great Asian Cup and it was a big achievement. Hopefully, it will help us to compete but this is a different competition and it is our first time to play against South American teams.
“We want to perform at the highest level and see how we can compete against Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay; they are former World Cup champions. It is going to be tough but it will be a good test to see how ready we are for 2022. There will be a lot of physical demands but the players are motivated.”
In terms of preparations, Sanchez said: “There is no national team in the world that has played two big continental championships in a season. Also, we had a busy club schedule with the players.
“We will try to limit the weaknesses when we arrive in Brazil but at the same time the motivation is big and we will compensate with a good performance. Once the players arrive on the pitch, I’m sure they will give 100 percent.”
Responding to a question if the tournament will further help to expose his players to international scouts from Europe, the Spanish tactician said: “We need to go step by step and in three years these players will play in the world cup. It is another step necessary for us to prepare and for the players, it is an opportunity to showcase themselves to the rest of the world hopefully in a good way.”
Talking on the expected players to make the cut to Brazil, Sanchez said barring injuries the changes will be very minimal to the side that conquered the Asian continent in January. He admitted that there have been some injury problems and that he will name his 23-man squad at the end of the month. He hinted that the door is still open to some youth players who will compete in the FIFA U20 World Cup in Poland this June.
Sanchez praised the facilities at the Aspire Academy that it has helped develop the national team players over the years. “I have been here with some of the players for many years, so this, of course, makes me proud and honoured to help the national team. We have made many sacrifices to reach this level, I am happy to have an institution like Aspire. They have the best facilities in the world and we must use to the maximum.”
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