Qatar targets historic feats on the pitch too

 

Qatar are not just looking to 2022, they retain an interest in Brazil 2014.

On Tuesday, the Qataris play South Korea in Seoul in their sixth match in the Asian qualifying group. The Gulf state sit fourth out of five. The top two go to Brazil, the third has to clear a two-round play-off hurdle to join them.

South Korea and Uzbekistan are favourites to qualify automatically, with Qatar vying with Iran for the play-off slot, but only one point currently separates the quartet.

Qualification would provide Qatar with much-needed sporting credibility. Currently ranked 101st by Fifa, they have never qualified for the World Cup. This is not surprising considering it has a population the size of Bucharest and no footballing background, so a few short-cuts have been taken. Qatar has liberally naturalised players born in Africa, Brazil and other Middle Eastern states with the result that 16 of the players called up in the last year were foreign-born. For the first time in two decades the coach is, at least, a Qatari, though for how long remains to be seen.

Fahed Thani became the fifth coach in two years when he was appointed in January. That sort of impatience underlines that Qatar is a nation in a hurry to establish itself, whether that be by political or sporting means.

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