Qatar coach Felix Sanchez has warned “the internet is very dangerous” and insisted his team is unaffected by speculation over the integrity of the World Cup as they prepare for Sunday’s opening game against Ecuador.
The host nation have been subject to rumors questioning the authenticity of their recent matches and online allegations of a willingness to engage in bribery, a suggestion which has been widely discredited.
Asian champions Qatar, who are in Group A alongside Senegal and the Netherlands, will be underdogs in all three matches, but Sanchez is refusing to use the focus on off-field controversy as an excuse for his players not to perform.
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He said: “I think there is a lot of disinformation. The internet is a great tool but it is also very dangerous from my point of view. For many years, we’ve been preparing, training. We are together we are strong and cohesive and nobody will be able to destabilize us with this criticism so we are not affected at all.
“We are very excited motivated and happy to be playing our first World Cup. We are focusing on how to prepare the game, to control our emotions and we don’t take anything else into account. “The best thing that can happen to a team or a footballer is to keep calm, avoid any sort of rumors and noise around you.
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“Obviously we don’t like people criticizing our country. In terms of football strictly, we had a great preparation ahead of the World Cup. All the players come here with the highest motivation and emphasis. Tomorrow, we will try to give a good performance and try to be competitive.”