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Qatar fire coach with 2018 hopes in balance

Doha (AFP) – Ambitious World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar have sacked coach Jose Daniel Carreno just a fortnight ahead of a crucial 2018 qualifier in South Korea and after successive defeats.

He was dismissed following recent back-to-back defeats against Iran and Uzbekistan which left Qatar’s hopes of making the World Cup in Russia in two years’ time in serious trouble.

Carreno is expected to be replaced by fellow Uruguayan Jorge Fossati, currently coach of Qatar Stars League (QSL) champions Al-Rayyan.

Fossati said on Friday that he will have a meeting with Qatar Football Association president Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani on Saturday.

“Nobody has offered me anything officially, but Qatar is a special country for me and i will help if I can,” said Fossati.

A QFA spokesman told AFP on Friday that the “new coach will be someone from Doha”.

One possibility is that Fossati will take charge initially on a temporary basis.

As well as South Korea, Qatar also face Syria next month and China in November.

They will need almost maximum points from these three matches to retain a chance of qualifying for Russia.

Fossati, 63, previously coached the national team between 2007 and 2008.

He has had a long and varied career as a player and manager and also coached the Uruguayan national team for two years from 2004.

Qatar, which has been savaged by critics after being awarded the 2022 World Cup for having little footballing pedigree, is desperate to reach its first finals in 2018.

If it fails to do so, Qatar will become the first team to host a World Cup finals without previously qualifying since Italy, hosts of the second World Cup in 1934.

Asked if Carreno had paid the price for the losses against Iran and Uzbekistan, the spokesman replied: “For sure.”

Carreno’s fate was sealed following a meeting on Thursday. 

Despite serene progress through the AFC’s second round of qualifying, where Qatar topped their group and won seven of their eight games, the 53-year-old has paid the price for the Gulf country’s disastrous start to Round 3.

Earlier this month Qatar lost their first game in controversial circumstances away to Iran, conceding two goals in injury time.

They followed that up five days later with an unexpected 1-0 defeat at home to Uzbekistan.

Those results mean Qatar are bottom of the six-team Group A, and have to finish in the top two places to be assured of getting to Russia. 

Completing the managerial merry-go-round, Carreno is expected to become the new manager of Al Hilal in Saudi Arabia, after they fired their Uruguayan coach Gustavo Matosas on Thursday.

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