Felix Sanchez insists Qatar exit at World Cup group stage would not be failure

Hosts fell to second defeat in row at finals when they lost 3-1 to Senegal on Friday

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Qatar manager Felix Sanchez said the World Cup hosts should not be labelled a failure if they are eliminated from the tournament at the group stage.

The hosts, competing in their first global finals, sit on the verge of an early exit from their home event following Friday's 3-1 defeat to Senegal at Al Thumama Stadium.

Coming off the back of an opening loss to Ecuador, Qatar’s chances of emerging from Group A were left hanging in the balance.

Sanchez’s side, the current Asian champions, were anxiously waiting on the result from the Netherlands against Ecuador later on Friday. With only the Dutch still to face, on Tuesday, Qatar could become the first World Cup hosts to fail to win a single game.

Sunday’s 2-0 defeat to Ecuador rendered the team the first home nation in tournament history to lose their opening game.

Speaking to reporters following the Senegal defeat, when Mohammed Muntari made history by scoring the country’s first goal at a global finals, Sanchez said: “We are aware of how tough this competition is. We wanted to go far, but we know we had limitations as a country.

“It's a small country, not a very large population. The local league is not a very competitive one. It's our first time at the World Cup. If we can take part again, that would be great. It's always useful to get more experience.”

Sanchez added: "When you come here you need to know where you're coming from [as a country]. If this is a failure and disappointment, that depends on expectations. Our goal was to be competitive. We've been working for so many months to be able to give a good performance.”

On whether the current group of players, who at the Asian Cup three years ago landed a first major international title, had reached the end of a cycle, Sanchez disagreed.

However, he said: "We have some young players and more experienced players. Our goal is very clear: we will have a generational shift. Some players will leave, others will come.

“We might have new players at the Asian Cup next year; some players cannot play at their best for such a long time. But it's not the end of a cycle.”

Updated: November 25, 2022, 6:03 PM