The Qatar national football team has come a long way since it was established by the Qatar Football Association back in the 1960s. It joined FIFA in 1970. Their first experience with international tournaments was when the Gulf Cup of Nations was established in 1970. One of the national team’s biggest achievements are related to the Asian Cup, but the team had to get there first. Their first qualification rounds for the Asian Cup in the 1970s were not successful and they did not even make it to the competition. Only in 1980 did Qatar manage to qualify for the tournament but was eliminated in the first couple of rounds with no significant results. Their best rank in the Asian competition was 5th. The Gulf Cup seems to be more their thing, since they are triple champions in that tournament. They won the Gulf Cup in 1992, 2004, and 2014. 2014 seemed to be especially lucky for the Qatar national team, since they also won the West Asian Football Federation Cup.
The Qatar National Football Team and FIFA Qualifications
Qatar never succeeded to qualify for the tournament by merit in the past. One or the other time, they were very close to getting into the tournament, but at the end, it never worked out fully.
Their first encounter with FIFA was in 1977 when they did not make it out of the qualifying rounds. In 1982 and 1986 Qatar participated finally in the qualification rounds for the FIFA World Cup, but they did not pull through the preliminary qualification rounds and it was game over for the Qatar nation before it even started.
Qatar was perceived somewhat more serious during the 1990's FIFA qualifications. That is when the team actually showed some impressive results. In 1993, they achieved the highest FIFA ranking in their history by being 53rd. For the 1990 FIFA Cup, the team impressed by being the first team in their group, but yet it was not enough to secure a ticket to the FIFA World Cup, since they were below the United Arab Emirates and South Korea in the final round.
For the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the team was entrusted to Jorge Fossati who was supposed to train the team to finally make it to the biggest football competition, but yet some things went southwards this time as well. Fossati was a well-known former Uruguay football player, or more precisely goal keeper and later manager who was highly respected in the football world. Qatar managed to be the first in their group once again under Fossati, but unfortunately, only after two matches, the outstanding coach had to undergo stomach surgery. The Qatar team came to a halt in the midst of qualifications. The Qatar Football Association made the decision to discontinue their collaboration two years prior to the World Cup with the excuse that Fossati would take too long to recover and that Qatar did not have the time. The QFA replaced him with another great manager and coach, Frenchmen Bruno Metsu, who already had extensive experience in football managing. Nevertheless, Qatar winded up 4th in their qualifying group which was not enough to open the door to the World Cup. Once again Qatar was left dangling in the middle of qualifications. Maybe they did not qualify in 2010, but things did not look so bad for Qatar when they were appointed host for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the same year.
They have started off well the qualifications for the 2018 FIFA World Cup by getting to the third round. But yet, the wheel of fortune turned again after round three, and Qatar lost from China, Iran, and Uzbekistan without scoring any goals.
The 2020 FIFA and Qatar
Well, it seems that Qatar wanted fiercely to play in the FIFA World Cup, and when it did not work one way, they chose the other one. Namely, as Qatar is going to host the 2020 FIFA World Cup, it qualifies automatically for the Cup, so at least, they finally will attain the unattainable. This is going to be Qatar’s first appearance in the actual World Cup, where they are going to play against the best teams in the world. Based on the history of Qatar and their unsuccessful qualifications in the years before, Qatar can be happy if they make it through the first round. Moreover, the team will only play in the tournament if Qatar is not going to be dismissed as host in the following years since a lot of controversy surrounds the bidding for hosting FIFA.
Qatar has been put under a lot of pressure in the last years since story after story about corruptions keeps coming out. Qatar has been already threatened to be taken away the honor to host if new inspections prove that the Qatari bidding team paid committee members to vote for them.
The Hidden Agenda
The National team of Qatar will probably not have it easy if Qatar really retains the host honor. Not only will they have to compete on the football court with the best of the best in football, but they will also have to fight against allegations and corruption accusations. Qatar, so far, rejects any accusations and declares itself a fair winner in the bidding process.
Well, many also believe that Qatar wanted simply to develop their infrastructure and country overall in the 12-year period, time given to the host to prepare for the biggest 2020 event. Qatar, even if one of the wealthiest states, has a lot to reconstruct on its tiny area it occupies. The football cup moves to the Middle East as it seems and the world is not quite happy with that. The Qatar national football team might enter history by playing for the first time in the FIFA Cup, but there will always be a shadow hanging over their underserved success. No one thinks that Qatar would qualify as a strong football force, if it was not for the hosting.