Qatar: Sánchez hungry for more success with World Cup hosts
Now in his fourth year as boss of Qatar, Spaniard Félix Sánchez has achieved more than any other national coach in the country's history.
The 2022 World Cup will be an unprecedented challenge for the Spaniard Félix Sánchez. When he joined Aspire Zone in 2006, in a role that saw him share his experience and know-how with the young footballers at the academy to help them grow into future stars of the world game, he could not have imagined that he would end up being the Qatari national coach for the tournament.
However, it all changed when he was named coach of Qatar Under-19s and led them to the AFC U-19 Championship in 2014, before taking charge of the Olympic team. The impact he made on both sides led him to be handed the biggest job of his career when he was appointed as boss of the seniors in 2017. Sánchez’s leadership of the Qatar team has made him essential to the side’s upcoming World Cup campaign, and in 2019 his contract was extended until 2022.
Fourth year as Qatar head coach
The only coach to take charge of Qatari national teams from three different age groups, Sánchez is now in his fourth year with the senior side and has been working in the country for 14 years. As the local newspaper Al-Raya notes, no other Qatar coach has achieved what he has, having lifted the AFC U-19 Championship in 2014 and the Asian Cup with the full international team in 2019 - two trophies never before won in the history of the country’s game. What’s more, the Qatari Olympic team came third at the AFC U-23 Championship under Sánchez, and was close to qualifying for the Olympics twice before then.
With confidence in Sánchez growing and growing on the back of his historic achievements, the decision was made to hand the Spaniard an extended deal until the 2022 World Cup, where he will be looking to continue his success. The tournament will be a chance for him to firmly establish himself among the best coaches in the world.
Training amid coronavirus safety measures
In the meantime, Sánchez continues to plot a pathway to victories. Making the most of the suspension of play caused by the coronavirus, he led a 34-man group of Qatar internationals, most of whom are graduates of Aspire, in a training camp organised by the national-team management in coordination with the Qatar Stars League, with players following a regime that observed coronavirus safety protocols agreed with the relevant authorities.
The training saw Sánchez work on getting the players back into shape for the possible resumption of World Cup 2022 and 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers in the international breaks that feature in the FIFA calendar from September onwards.
Although they have already qualified for the tournament as hosts, Qatar are taking part in Asian World Cup qualifying and have games left to play in Group E, against India, Bangladesh and Oman on 8 and 13 October and 12 November, respectively. Following the end of the training camp, the players rejoined their clubs to begin preparations for the return of the domestic league, which is due to resume on 24 July.
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