Al Ain: Qatar’s rapid-fire start was the key to their 6-0 defeat of DPR Korea in Al Ain on Sunday afternoon, said coach Felix Sanchez, after his side secured their place in the knockout rounds of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.
Almoez Ali scored four in a comprehensive victory for the West Asians, who moved to the top of Group E ahead of their meeting with Saudi Arabia on Thursday, which will determine who claims pole position in the standings.
Ali put the Qataris in front after just nine minutes and the Al Duhail striker doubled the advantage just two minutes later to effectively end the resistance of DPR Korea. Boualem Khoukhi and Abdelkarim Hassan also put their names on the scoresheet as Sanchez’s side cruised to victory.
“We’re very pleased with the performance the team displayed today,” said Sanchez. “The fact of scoring early also gave us the confidence to keep going and the team never stopped trying to keep playing our game, even when it seemed the game was over, with the fourth goal especially.
“We’re very proud of the players with the performance, the attitude and the game they played this afternoon.”
Ali became just the fifth player in the AFC Asian Cup history to score four times in a single game, with all of his goals assisted by Al Sadd winger Akram Afif and Sanchez paid tribute to the understanding between the pair.
“In this case, with Almoez and Akram they are playing together for the last seven years and they’re playing close to each other so it’s normal the understanding they have,” he said.
Match Highlights - January 13
“They’ve played many, many games so I think they understand each other. They know when one gets the ball the movement the other is going to do and it makes the connection easier.
“Also the relation with all the others was good today and Almoez was especially very effective and that’s what we need from a player in his position.”
DPR Korea coach Kim Yong-jun conceded that the early goal from Ali left his side with a mountain to climb, especially after their 4-0 loss in their opening game against Saudi Arabia.
“We let the Qatar team score too early, the first goal was inside 10 minutes and that made things difficult,” he said. “The players weren’t mentally used to the game."
“We have one last game left and we have to learn the lessons from the first two games but we have to forget about these games. We have to do our best in this last game and do our best to still get to the next round.
“We played a more attacking game in this second match but the players didn’t play as we expected in the first place. The first goal made the payers very nervous and they couldn’t control their mental state and that wasn’t good.”