Qatar seek maximum points in group stage as it prepares to face China

Qatar seek maximum points in group stage as it prepares to face China
Qatar is currently top of the leaderboard and has already qualified for the knockout phase of the tournament.
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Qatar has won both their games in the group stages of the Asian cup [Photo by Noushad Thekkayil/NurPhoto via Getty Images]

Qatar have already qualified for the knockout stage of the Asian Cup but they will not ease up in their final group game against China as they owe it to the home fans to finish with maximum points, coach Marquez Lopez said on Sunday.

The hosts beat Lebanon and Tajikistan to guarantee top spot in Group A and Lopez said he would strike a balance between going for a third straight win and keeping his squad fresh and injury-free for the next round.

"We have great respect for the competition and we are aware we should win, but we should also do what is convenient for us, so we'll use the right players," Lopez told reporters.

"It doesn't mean we will change the formation and use less capable players. We will make some changes for the game of course, but our idea of how the players will play is clear.

"Playing in such a competition is motivation for any player to put in excellent performances and win. This is how we'll go into the game with 40,000-50,000 Qatari fans hoping to see the team win. It's not a walk in the park, we're there to compete."

Qatar midfielder Ahmed Fatehi said they would not take their foot off the accelerator against a "well organised" team despite being in a comfortable position.

"After beating Tajikistan we guaranteed qualification and topped the group. But immediately after that we vowed as players that we still have to perform in one more group game against China," he said.

"If you go into the game relaxed, it will affect us and our performance, especially in the next stage."

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China have had two 0-0 draws to sit second in the group and coach Aleksandar Jankovic said he was "honoured and privileged" to be in a position to take the game to Qatar.

"We have big respect for Qatar, a strong team with six points. They're hosts and defending champions and they're in a very good moment, but that makes the game more exciting," he said.

"For us the target remains the same. We are undefeated but we expected more from the first two games. Personally we deserved more."

Jankovic also said he would not let his players get distracted by the result of the other group match on Monday, which could have major implications for China.

Tajikistan and Lebanon both have one point and are playing each other at the same time as China face Qatar.

"It's 11 versus 11 in 90 minutes. Don't follow other results, don't look at the other game," added Jankovic with a smile. "Very, very simple."