QFA Director of Football Development to QNA: Current Season Among Most Successful, Qatari National Team Aims for 2026 World Cup

Doha, June 05 (QNA) – Director of the Football Development Department at the Qatar Football Association (QFA) Fahd Thani Al Zaraa affirmed that the 2023-2024 football season is one of the most successful, particularly in terms of developing youth leagues and training coaches, pointing out that this success is part of a plan to enhance the performance of Qatar’s football system and local training by offering training courses for coaches across various specialties based on high standards and a clear pre-established plan.

In an exclusive interview with Qatar News Agency (QNA), Al Zaraa explained that the 2023-2024 season witnessed a significant increase in technical level due to several key factors, as Qatar Stars League’s Central Scouting Team (CST) established a clear mechanism for selecting professional players in collaboration with various entities to raise the competitive level of clubs, bridge technical gaps between them, and achieve high-quality professional football.

He noted that the low average age of players, which reached an average of 25.6 years after 32 years in previous periods, also contributed to this improvement. The average play time also increased to 104 minutes, aligning with global league standards. Playing matches in air-conditioned stadiums was another significant factor that contributed to the overall enhancement of all local tournaments, he added.

Al Zaraa pointed out that there has been a rise in attendance rates, with an average of about 2,200 spectators per match, up from a previous average of only 800 spectators.

He said that the QFA has implemented a strategy aimed at developing football by focusing on two essential elements which are the age category players and the coaches, who are fundamental to raising the level of players and creating a competitive environment that helps advance football. 

Director of QFA Football Development Department Fahd Thani Al Zaraa stressed that the rise in the league’s performance level has had a positive impact on the national team, which managed to maintain its continental title in the AFC Asian Cup 2023. This, he said, helped the national team’s coaching staff in preparing players, resulting in excellent cooperation with clubs, noting that the national team is steadily progressing towards its goal of qualifying for the World Cup 2026 during the current period.

Al Zaraa pointed out that there is a joint coordination between QFA and Aspire Academy, which focuses on elite programs and national team players across various age groups, alongside parallel work with the Qatar Stars League (QSL) in recruiting competent coaches.

In this regard, the Director of QFA Football Development Department emphasized that this cooperation with QSL has borne fruit in providing opportunities for coaches within clubs, after training coaching staff from both field and professional perspectives, within a systematic training methodology aimed at raising football standards.

He highlighted the presence of a fixed calendar for tournaments and competitions throughout the season, which contributed to stability in the clubs and the Aspire Academy, noting that during the current season, there were tournaments for 10 different age groups, all of whom participated in 1,275 local matches.

Regarding the coaching immersion program and the success of coaches in gaining significant experience, Al Zaraa said that this program, initiated last year in collaboration with clubs like Eupen from Belgium, Villarreal from Spain, and Leeds United from England, has been continuous and highly successful, as 15 coaches were sent to undergo immersion programs with clubs like Slavia Prague in the Czech Republic, Fulham in England, and Real Betis in Spain.

Furthermore, among the goals of the training courses organized by the QFA Football Development Department is to qualify coaching staff from both field and professional perspectives, within a systematic training methodology to equip coaches to lead football teams across various categories, including professionals, he said.

He underlined that the joint education agreement with the Asian Football Confederation, signed in 2019, has yielded significant positive outcomes, pointing out that through this agreement, recognition has been given to training courses organized by the Qatar Football Association up to the professional level. Consequently, licenses have been granted to coaches to work in the club sector, and advanced coaching methodologies have been acquired, by leveraging external coaching expertise to oversee training courses, he added.

Fahd Thani Al Zaraa also said that the training courses organized by the Qatar Football Association have been a fundamental destination for many Arab coaches due to the strength of the training programs, the quality of educational content, and the presence of international expertise, with many examples of their success in leading their teams to advanced stages.

Al Zaraa concluded his exclusive interview with QNA by affirming that Qatar’s hosting of the next five editions of FIFA U-20 World Cup is a significant step in developing Qatari football at this age group level and in preparing players in a competitive international tournament. (QNA)