Coach change Thailand X Qatar busy ahead of Asian Cup

17일부터 훈련 '대규모' 中→감독 교체 태국·카타르, 아시안컵 앞두고 분주

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Qatar Asian Cup is less than a month away from kicking off. The tournament was originally scheduled to take place in China this past June and July. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament was moved to Qatar after China returned the hosting rights. The tournament will take place from January 12 to February 10, centered in Doha and Al Rayyan.

The lead-up to the Asian Cup has been hectic. China will begin training in earnest on the 17th. On February 12, the Chinese Football Association announced on its website, “In preparation for the Asian Cup, we will train in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) from the 17th until January next year. The team will then travel to Doha, Qatar, to compete in the Asian Cup. Head coach Aleksandar Jankovic and his coaching and support staff totaled 23 people.

The team also announced the 26 players who will compete. Wu Lei, Zhang Linfeng (Shanghai Haigang) and Wei Hao (Wuhan Shanjian) are all on the list. The only overseas player is 2000-born Wu Xiaochong (Gentzlerwiryi), who plays for Turkkiye. China is drawn in Group A of the tournament. They will face Qatar, Tajikistan, and Lebanon.

Hosts Qatar, who face China, have decided to change their head coach. On July 7, the team parted ways with Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz. In a statement, the Qatar Football Association said, “We have decided to terminate the contract with Coach Keiros by mutual consent. We would like to thank Mr. Keiros for his dedication and guidance during his tenure. Keiros stepped down after 10 months in charge of Qatar in February. He left with a record of four wins, three draws and four losses (18 points, 16 goals) in 11 A-League matches. Spaniard Marques Lopez has been appointed as the new head coach.

Qatar is not alone in changing coaches. Thailand, also in Group F, has made a coaching change. The Football Association of Thailand parted ways with German-Brazilian coach Alexandre Polking on March 23 and handed the reins to Japanese coach Masatada Ishii. The Thais suffered their worst defeat of the tournament when they came from behind to lose 1-0 against China in the second Asian qualifying round of the 2026 North American Football Championship. Ishii previously coached Thailand’s Buriram United to league titles in 2022 and 2023. Thailand will play a friendly against Hajime Moriyasu’s Japan on Nov. 1. They will face Saudi Arabia, Kyrgyzstan and Oman in the Asian Cup.

Kim Pang Gon’s Malaysia, who face South Korea in Group E, will reportedly begin training in earnest on the 26th. However, according to the Malaysian Football Association, the friendly against Saudi Arabia has been canceled. The Saudis, who are in Group F, have reportedly deemed the match a potential round of 16 clash with Malaysia.

Meanwhile, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has released its “five stars to watch” ahead of the Asian Cup. Cho Kyu-sung (Mitwillan), Junya Ito (Japan), Harry Souttar (Australia), Harib Abdallah (United Arab Emirates), and Arif Ayman (Malaysia) were named.


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