Qatar fires coach with 2018 hopes in balance

Daniel Carreno 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 become the new manager of Al Hilal in Saudi Arabia.   -  Getty Images

Ambitious World Cup 2022 host Qatar has sacked coach Jose Daniel Carreno just a fortnight ahead of a crucial 2018 qualifier in South Korea and after successive defeats.

The Uruguayan 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.

A Qatar Football Association spokesman said there would be an announcement of a new coach "today or tomorrow". "The new coach will be someone from Doha, a coach from Doha," said the spokesman.

Adding to the expectation that Fossati will be appointed, the spokesman said no announcement would likely be made until after Al-Rayyan's game on Friday evening. Asked if Carreno had lost his job because of World Cup qualifying results, the spokesman replied: "For sure."

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 way back in 1934. 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 coached the Uruguayan national team for two years from 2004. The other leading candidate is French-born Algerian Djamel Belmadi.

The former Southampton player coached the national team in 2014-15, when Qatar won the Gulf championship. He currently coaches QSL side Lekhwiya.

Completing the managerial merry-go-round, Carreno is expected to become the new manager of Al Hilal in Saudi Arabia, after they fired its Uruguayan coach Gustavo Matosas on Thursday. Carreno's fate was sealed following a meeting on Thursday.

Despite serene progress through the AFC's second round of qualifying, where Qatar topped its group and won seven of its 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 its 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 is bottom of the six-team Group A, and has to finish in the top two places to be assured of getting to Russia.

It also means the team is desperate for a result in the tough qualifier against South Korea on October 6, which will be the new coach's first game in charge.