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2018 World Cup dream alive, says new Qatar coach

Doha (AFP) – Jorge Fossati was officially unveiled as Qatar’s new coach on Tuesday and insisted that the 2022 host country’s “big dream” of reaching the 2018 World Cup finals was still possible.

Ambitious Qatar have never qualified for a World Cup before and are aiming to do so before staging the event in 2022, but they face an uphill battle.

The Uruguayan Fossati was hurriedly appointed on Saturday after Qatari football officials sacked Jose Daniel Carreno following a disastrous start to the final round of qualifying for the tournament in Russia in two years’ time.

“I believe that Qatar can qualify,” Fossati told a press conference in Doha.

“It will be very, very difficult but I am optimistic. I believe in Qatar’s possibilities.”

The 63-year-old added that qualifying for Russia was a “big dream for the Qatari people”.

Qatar lost their first two games — away to group favourites Iran and, surprisingly, at home to Uzbekistan — and are currently bottom of the six-team Group A.

They have to finish in the top two places to be assured of getting to Russia, though may be able to qualify via a play-off if they finish third.

Fossati admitted that third may be Qatar’s best bet.

“Today I can say it is more probable that Qatar finishes in third place rather than take (automatic) qualification because the reality is we have played two games and have zero points.”

Qatar play two further qualifiers early next month, away to one of the group’s strongest teams and perennial World Cup qualifiers South Korea, on October 6, then home to Syria on October 11.

Fossati has hastily arranged a behind-closed-doors friendly in Doha against Serbia on September 29.

Highly respected in Qatar, Fossati managed the national team during qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup.

Until last week he was at Al Rayyan, having coached them to the domestic Qatari championship last season.

On Monday Al Rayyan announced former Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup as Fossati’s replacement.

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