Although the Spaniard Felix Sanchez, the Qatar coach, was Yemeni in reaching the Arab Cup final, after he drew with Algeria in stoppage time, but he paid attention in the end to the positive part related to the experience gained.
Qatar, which hosts the World Cup a year later, fell behind with a goal scored by defender Djamel Belamri an hour before play, and fought the Asian champions and relied on two strikers in the hope of equalizing.
Qatar achieved what it wanted in the seventh minute of stoppage time with a header from substitute striker Mohamed Muntari that hit the post and entered the goal, and it seemed that the homeowner was trying to resort to extra time.
But Algeria snatched the qualification to the final in an exciting way after receiving a penalty kick by Youssef Belaili, who missed it at first, but he followed it up and scored easily in the goal in the 17th minute of overtime.
“I felt that we played against a great team, we played with discipline and against a very strong opponent with great players who can make the difference,” Sanchez told reporters. We managed to get the opposition under control a lot of the time, and I think we gained a lot of experience playing this match, and we did the difficult thing with the equaliser.”
This is Qatar’s first match against an African team in the Arab Cup, after it won its previous four matches against Asian teams.
Qatar recently gained experience playing with teams from Asia, Europe, North America and South America, but it lacked experience playing against African teams, which was achieved by facing African champion Algeria.
“This is a long season, we played a lot of matches and it was very nice for us to have such experiences before the World Cup,” Sanchez said. “It is good that we played many matches, especially this one (against Algeria). The schedule of matches was excellent and we have to continue like this and move forward in our journey (towards preparing for the World Cup).” Qatar will gain new experience from playing against an African team when it faces Egypt to determine the third-placed team in the Arab Cup on Saturday.
In the same context, a 0-0 draw dominated the Tunisia-Egypt match until the end of normal time, as well as the end of the three-minute stoppage time at 974 Stadium in Qatar. After it seemed that extra time or penalty kicks would separate the two teams from North Africa, substitute Naim Al-Saliti took a free kick that touched the head of Amr Al-Sulayya, the captain of Egypt, and turned into the net.
The goal was particularly harsh on Al-Sulayya, after he was widely Egypt’s best player in the entire tournament, but in the end Tunisia was the most attempt on goal and deserved promotion. Egypt coach Carlos Queiroz can only blame himself, not luck, after he only launched counter-attacks, even if he was very close to scoring a quarter of an hour before the end. Queiroz said: “Luck helped Tunisia in the goal ball. I am not saying that Tunisia does not deserve to win, but we also created chances and we deserved to score.”
Queiroz once again relied on striker Marwan Hamdi, who is being criticized by fans and the media, at the expense of Mohamed Sherif, the top scorer in the Egyptian League last season. Marwan Hamdi was on the cusp of scoring the goal for Egypt after he penetrated from the left side, but before he shot into the goal from close range, substitute Mustafa Fathi stormed the scene and threw the ball high.
It is strange that Queiroz involved three players to activate the attack in the second half, namely Sharif, Fathi and Osama Faisal, but he did not push the wing, Ahmed Refaat, who has the greatest credit for Egypt reaching the semi-finals.
Queiroz will be required to fix mistakes quickly to appear better when he faces the host country and the Asian champions to determine the third place. On the other hand, Tunisia will miss defender Yacine Meriha in the Arab Cup final after he suffered a serious knee injury on Wednesday. The Tunisian Football Federation said on its Facebook page: “Thank you, Yassine Meriah, we are waiting for you in other successes.” The Federation added that the tests showed that Meriha was injured “at the level of the cross-ligaments (the cross). We wish Yassin a speedy recovery and return.” Meriah was injured in a joint ball during Tunisia’s 1-0 victory over Egypt in the Arab Cup semi-final in Qatar, and Muhammad Ali bin Ramadan participated in his place five minutes before the end of the first half. But Meriah suffered the same injury ten minutes before that, and fell to the ground and went out for treatment for several minutes, and then participated again before leaving the field.
Meriah was among three players in the defense line during the 3-4-3 game, but after the participation of midfielder Mohamed Ali Bin Ramadan, Tunisia coach Munther Al-Kabir relied on the presence of four players in the back line.
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