World Cup hosts Qatar announced Friday that national coach Felix Sanchez had been let go with the end of his contract after the team’s dismal World Cup where they failed to get a point from their group games.
The Qatar Football Association said it had decided “not to extend Felix Sanchez’s contract as head coach of the Qatar national team. We are grateful for his service and wish him all the best for the future.”
The Spaniard’s latest deal with Qatar finishes on December 31 but his future had been doubt after the Gulf state, which spent tens of billions of dollars preparing for the World Cup, failed to reach the second round.
The team were hidden away in training camps in Europe for months before the start of the tournament and there has since been criticism of the tactic.
The QFA praised the work of the 47-year-old former Barcelona staffer who had been in Qatar since 2006.
“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!” the QFA said on Twitter.
Sanchez became national coach in 2017 and guided them to victory in the Asian Cup two years later.
But they never recovered after a disastrous start in the World Cup opening game which they lost to Ecuador.
They joined South Africa from 2010 as the only hosts to be dumped out at the first hurdle.
Sanchez insisted at the end of the tournament that his team were never targeting a place in the knockout phase.
He said there were only 6,000 registered players in Qatar “so this was a likely situation,” when asked if he ever thought Qatar would get through the group.
“We never thought at any time to set a target of reaching the last 16 or the quarter-finals.
“We just wanted to come here and see what we could do. We managed to play two good games against Senegal and the Netherlands. The first game (against Ecuador) we weren’t at our usual level and we know that.”
He admitted though that he was unsure about his future.
Qatar’s three defeats brought harsh criticism on social media and defender Abdelkarim Hassan has been booted out of his Al Sadd side because of his reaction.
When a fan questioned Hassan’s attitude on social media, he replied: “Calm down. Do you think this is a war?”
Al Sadd said the 29-year-old, who had a contract until 2024, had left because his “outlook does not correspond to the goals and aspirations of the team”.