AFC Asian Cup 2019: Can Qatar live up to Xavi's top billing?
Written by: Sabin Castelino
A few days ago the former Barcelona ace had pipped the 2022 FIFA World Cup host to win the ongoing tournament.
Qatar are one of the prima facie powerhouses of Asian football and with them preparing to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, they have been the centre of attention for the world in recent years. Spanish legend Xavi Hernandez, who plays for Al Saad in the Qatar Stars League, is their acting global ambassador and also a TV personality.
Live on a Qatari sports channel, Xavi, who was their pundit, went on to give his predictions for the ongoing AFC Asian Cup, 2019. Now, as a World Cup winner and also a legendary player, his opinions naturally carry great value and went some way to guiding how many fans felt the tournament would go.
One prediction that Xavi had made was with regard to the Indian team. He had said that they would finish bottom of their group and Thailand were tipped to go through, along with the UAE. But, this has already fallen flat on its face with India’s glorious victory over the War Elephants and even one of his choices for the semi-finalists, Australia, have suffered a loss at the hands of Jordan.
So, where do the Qatari side stand? Do they have the value that the great Xavi predicted to go on to win the title or will they languish on being knocked out of the competition well before the showpiece?
Qatar, in essence, are front runners and have all they need to go through and secure a place in the knockouts. Their gameplay has been excellent and their attacking prowess on full display, even in matches where the result did not favour them.
Also, an important notice has to be taken of their performances over the year of 2018, where they have maintained an incredible streak of results and their built up confidence may help them power through even to the semis of the tournament. But, has Xavi been a little too hasty in declaring them Asian champions?
He may actually not have been wrong, considering that they have accumulated only two losses in the whole of 2018 and those came against Uzbekistan and Traiskirchen, an Austrian club. They famously beat Switzerland away in November and held Iceland to a 2-2 draw at home in the same month.
Such a track record deserves praise and may very well have prepared them for continental success, but with Saudi Atabia drubbing North Korea and many underdogs like India lying in wait, it is hard to say whether Xavi’s prediction for Qatar might actually come true. If it does not, we will surely have a good laugh about it.
Published: Wed Jan 09, 2019 03:58 PM IST