Qatar coach Jorge Fossati resigned just a few hours after leading his team to a 3-2 win over South Korea on Tuesday which kept the nation’s slim hopes of reaching next year’s World Cup finals alive.
The Uruguayan’s decision to quit after less than a year in charge took the Qatar Football Association (QFA) by surprise and its president said he wanted to discuss the matter with the coach before accepting the resignation.
Hamad Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmed Al-Thani said Spanish under-23 team coach Felix Sanchez would take over if Fossati could not be persuaded to stay on, Doha-based TV station Al-Kass reported.
As hosts of the 2022 World Cup finals, the Qataris were desperate to qualify for next year’s tournament in Russia but have managed just two wins and a draw in eight matches in the third round of Asian qualifying.
Even after Tuesday’s impressive victory, secured by Hasan Al Haydos’s winner 16 minutes from time, Qatar need to make up three points on third-placed Uzbekistan in Group A with only two matches remaining.
Third place would secure a playoff against the similarly placed team in Asia’s other qualifying group, with the winner of that tie going on to face the fourth placed team from CONCACAF in an inter-confederation playoff for a berth in Russia.
Qatar’s final two matches are against Syria and China at the end of August and start of September, while the Uzbeks travel to face the Chinese and then host South Korea.
If Qatar fails in its bid, it would become the first World Cup host nation not to have previously qualified for an edition of soccer’s global showpiece.
Fossati, who has previously coached in Saudi Arabia and also managed Qatar between 2007 and 2008, threatened to resign last November over QFA plans to exclude naturalized players from the national team.
Qatar has used its oil and gas wealth to recruit players from around the world to bolster its team. About half of the current squad are naturalized citizens, including Brazil-born Rodrigo Tabata and Sebastian Soria, who was born in Uruguay.