Qatar Football Association (QFA) President Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani shakes hand with the newly appointed Qatar national football team’s Algerian coach Djamel Belmadi at a press conference in Doha yesterday. Qatar Olympic team coach, Fahad Thani (right) was also present. Picture by: Salim Matramkot
BY RIZWAN REHMAT
DOHA: Algerian Djamel Belmadi, 37, yesterday was handed over the reigns of the Qatar national side, replacing Fahad Thani who has been given charge of the Olympic squad.
This announcement was made by Qatar Football Association (QFA) President Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani who said Qatar has roped in Belmadi with an eye on reaching the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals.
Belmadi, who guided QSL side Lekhwiya to two national league titles in 2011 and 2012 , said he had signed the contract after considerable thought.
“This is a great opportunity for me to take charge of a very talented squad,” Belmadi said. “This is a responsibility that I have taken up after considerable thought. I did not go out looking for this job,” the 37-year-old added.
“I have been in this country for 10 years. I know how important this sport is to Qatar and the football fans. We have many targets to achieve,” the former Marseille midfielder said.
Sheikh Hamad said QFA is looking at three important events including the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
“I am here to announce that Mr Djamel Belmadi will manage the Qatar national team. Since he is very competent, we feel he can do a good job for the national side,” Sheikh Hamad said.
“Our targets are easy to understand. We want to reach the finals of the 2018 World Cup to be held in Russia,” Sheikh Hamad added. “We couldn’t reach 2014 FIFA World Cup to be held in Brazil but we can look forward to the next one,” he said.
“I take this opportunity to thank Fahad Thani for his wonderful contribution. He took over at a difficult time and did his best (2012 to 2014). We have important events coming up like the Gulf Cup and the 2015 Asian Cup,” the QFA chief said. Belmadi said he was eager to give his best.
“I am ready for this job,” the Algerian said. “I thank QFA for the confidence they have shown in me. We have a big mission. I know the expectation is high in Qatar,” Belmadi said.
“I am proud to be in this position,” Belmadi said.
Out-going coach Fahad said: “I would like to express my regret that we could not reach the 2014 World Cup finals. However, I would like to congratulate QFA on reaching the 2015 Asian Cup. My new target is to help Qatar reach the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero.”
Fahad had replaced Brazilian Paulo Autuori in February 2012 after Qatar were knocked out of the 2012 Gulf Cup in Bahrain.
Under Fahad, Qatar failed to reach the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals to be held in June this year in Brazil.
In January this year, Belmadi guided Qatar junior side to WAFF title glory.
He also played in Qatar, appearing for Al Kharaitiyat.
Sheikh Hamad said QFA had formed a ‘National Teams Committee’ to look into the affairs of the national senior and junior squads.
“We have strategies that were implemented sometime back. Our goals are pretty much straight forward,” Sheikh Hamad said.
“Right now we are focusing on the Gulf Cup to be held in November this year. That will be followed by the 2015 Asian Cup (in Australia) and then the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup qualifying campaigns,” he said.
Belmadi endorsed Sheikh Hamad’s sentiments when he said: “Our first target is the Gulf Cup. It is a very important challenge. I will adapt to the new challenge in my own way. We will prepare thoroughly.”
Sheikh Hamad said: “Mr Belmadi knows about Qatar. He doesn’t have a long career as a national team coach but he did great at WAFF Championship. He knows the national team players. I am sure Belmadi and Fahad will be up to their new task.”