EIGHT years ago, Jorge Fossati had left the Qatar national team job after two matches in the final round of 2010 World Cup qualification. And now, the Uruguayan takes over the side again at exactly the same stage on the road to Russia as the Qatar Football Association (QFA), as always, believes a change at the helm will help lift the players’ sagging morale.
Back then, in 2008, the late Bruno Metsu had returned to take over Qatar’s reins from Fossati, but failed to get the desired results as he was unfamiliar with the players. But Fossati, as in his last spell, moves to the national team after winning the league title with Al Sadd in 2007 and Al Rayyan last season. It should give him the necessary confidence to begin with.
Fossati replaced his compatriot Daniel Carreno after the team lost both matches in the final round, against Iran (0-2) and Uzbekistan (0-1). Qatar, the only team in Group A without a point, are now placed at the bottom of the table. Fossati has his task cut out, with many people thinking that it takes a miracle for Qatar to book their maiden World Cup berth from here. The 63-year-old believes it is possible.
Addressing a crowded Press conference for the first time since joining the national team, Fossati said, “I believe in the quality of our players. After the two bad results, the qualification for the World Cup is still possible, but it’s very, very difficult. I’m optimistic. Carreno did a good job and we’re going to enjoy part of that.”
Fossati said he would not promise results, but the QFA would hope him to arrest the team’s slump and straightaway deliver in the away tie against South Korea on October 6. Syria must be beaten at home five days later in Doha.
The Suwon fixture is a big test for Fossati. South Korea coach Uli Stielike, formerly with Al Arabi and Al Sailiya, knows the Qatar team inside out. Moreover, in Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-Min, the World Cup regulars have a world-class player who is in splendid form.
“Our main worry now is the short time we’ve before the start of the game. We’re working 24 hours a day, thinking how to correct some of the mistakes,” said Fossati.
The top two sides from each group will progress directly to the Russia finals, with the third-placed nations going into an Asian play-off and the winners with a CONCACAF opponent. Fossati said he was eyeing that route at the moment.
“Because we played two games and have zero points. But as you know the group is very even and may be situation can change for the better. It’s dependant on other results as well,” he said.
Luck has generally smiled on the former Uruguay coach. But he believes it has to be found with the right attitude. He is working hard to achieve it. Fossati describes Qatar as a special place while he has been one of the most successful managers at the club level in the country.
The QFA would be eager to see him to reproduce that success with the national team and win the country a dream berth at the Russia finals.