Competition
  • Champions League
  • LaLiga SmartBank

AFC ASIAN CUP 2019

Qatar success, shaped in Spain

Qatar success, shaped in Spain

KHALED DESOUKI

AFP

Félix Sánchez has played a key role in the Gulf Nation's progress, heading up a team backed by the likes of Sergio Alegre, Alberto Fernández Villanueva and Carlos Domenech.

For the past few years a strong bond has existed between the Qatar Football Federation (QFA) and Spanish sport. The Aspire Academy in Doha is headed by former Real Madrid strategy manager Iván Bravo with the Spaniard instrumental in the development of football in the gulf nation with the 2019 Asian Cup final against Japan testament on just how far the national team have advanced in a short spell of time.

After taking over at Aspire, Bravo selected some of the finest emerging coaching Spanish talent bringing over the likes of Roberto Olabe, Mikel Antía, Óscar Fernández, Sergio Alegre, Alberto Fernández-Villanueva and Carlos Domenech. Felix Sanchez was another young coach who cut his teeth at the FC Barcelona youth system before moving to Qatar in 2006 joining Aspire. The Catalan oversaw Qatar national teams at U-19, U-20 and U-23 levels before being given the first team job replacing Uruguayan Jorge Fossati in 2017.

From La Masia to The Gulf

Sánchez had already lead the U-19 Qatar team to glory in 2014 winning the Asian Cup and took the U-20 side to the semi-final stage of the Pre-Olympic qualifiers a year later. The Catalan bases his success on a modern methodology working with his sides being defensively strong and all capable of moving the ball with poise and purpose. 

Félix Sánchez

The Aspire Academy purchased Spanish side Cultural Leonesa and Belgian outfit Eupen, using both clubs as a filter for emerging talents to secure European experience. Current 2019 Asian Cup top scorer (on eight goals) Almoez Ali played for Cutural on ten occasions bagging a goal in April 2016 which saw him become the first Qatari footballer ever to score in a Spanish league.