Doha: Qatar Football Association (QFA) and it’s head coach Felix Sanchez have mutually decided to part ways, it was announced on Friday.
The QFA has announced that Sanchez’s contract, which expires on December 31, 2022, will not be renewed, as a result both the parties will move forward to start a new chapter.
“QFA and Felix Sanchez have decided together not to extend into a new contract,” the statement, titled ‘Thank You Sanchez’ said.
“After his contract finishes on December 31, both coach Felix and the QFA have jointly decided this is a good moment to begin a new chapter,” the statement added.
The decision came after the FIFA World Cup hosts made an early exit from the football showpiece event in which the hosts played all their three group matches, to become the second host nation after South Africa (2010) to make a first round exit from the event.
The 47-year-old Spaniard was at the helm of affairs of the Qatar national team for five years losing 2-0 to Ecuador, and by an identical margin to The Netherlands and losing 3-1 to Senegal, while scoring one goal and conceding seven goals in the recently concluded World Cup which Argentina won defeating France 4-2 in penalty shootout.
Qatar underwent a six-month training camp in Europe before the World Cup, with the team also competing in the 2019 Copa America and at last year’s Concacaf Gold Cup. But at their historic maiden World Cup appearance all plans fell apart.
There was indication that Sanchez’s contract would not be renewed when QFA named U-23 coach Bruno Pinheiro as the coach of the 27-member squad for the 25th Arabian Gulf Cup to be held in Basra, Iraq, from January 6 to 19, 2023. Many of the senior players — including captain Hassan al-Haydos, Akram Afif, Almoez Ali, Abdulaziz Hatem, Karim Boudiaf, Abdelkarim Hassan, Boualam Khoukhi, Bassam Al Rawi, Saad al-Sheeb and Pedro Miguel — who did duty at the World Cup were also rested.
Sanchez, who started his coaching career with Barcelona FC youth teams and from there on moved to the youth teams of Aspire Academy, and was then handed the responsibility of coaching different age group teams of Qatar and moved ranks to take over the national team.
Qatar winning the 2019 Asian Cup in UAE defeating Japan was one of the biggest achievements of Sanchez’s career and also a crowning glory for the 2022 World Cup hosts.
QFA President Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani: “Felix has been not only our coach, but also our friend. The football family of Qatar will always be grateful for the success he has brought to Qatar football over the years. Coach Felix will always have a special place with us and we hope he always thinks of Qatar as his home.”
Sanchez said he was looking to start a new chapter.
“The past 5.5 years with Qatar’s senior national team have been a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he added.
“I can only thank the QFA, Sheikh Hamad, the president and the country’s leaders for the trust and support during a period in which we achieved a lot together.”
“Qatar, its people and its football will always be in my heart. Now is a good time to let others take on the responsibility of the team and for me to explore new challenges.”
The QFA confirmed it would decide on a replacement shortly, there have been rumours of former Iran coach Carlos Queiroz being approached for the role. An announcement though is not likely to be made until the end of the Gulf Cup.