Felix Sanchez has left his position as Qatar head coach after the World Cup hosts failed to collect a point in front of home fans.
A long career in Qatari football has ended with former Barcelona youth coach Sanchez saying he hopes to find a new challenge.
Qatar’s performance was the worst statistically of any host nation in World Cup history. No other home side had ever lost as many as three matches or conceded as many as seven group-stage goals, which is what happened to Qatar.
Spaniard Sanchez took up an academy job in Qatar in 2006 before becoming directly involved with the national set-up at youth levels, later being appointed boss of the national team in 2017, with an Asian Cup triumph in 2019 marking the peak of his achievement in the job.
The Qatar Football Association (QFA) said Sanchez’s departure was “mutually decided”, with his contract having been due to expire on Saturday.
QFA president Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani said: “The football family of Qatar will always be grateful for the success he has brought to Qatari football over the years.”
Sanchez said: “The past five years with Qatar’s senior national team have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“I can only thank the QFA, Sheikh Hamad the president, and the country’s leaders for their 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.”
We had some wonderful years together, filled with many amazing moments, that will live forever in the history of Qatari football
Thank you for everything, Mr. Sanchez! pic.twitter.com/6VbSGIrKMH
— Qatar Football Association (@QFA_EN) December 30, 2022
At the end of Qatar’s World Cup campaign, which saw them lose to Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands, Sanchez bristled at the mention of his team’s record in the group.
He said: “We never thought at any time to set a goal of reaching the last 16 or the quarter-finals. The goal was to get here, compete and see what we could do. Now we’ve seen.
“You can use statistics as you please, but we have to make our own assessment. That’s what really matters to us.”