Bosnian Dzemaluddin Musovic stepped down in the wake of Qatar's disappointing campaign in the AFC Asian Cup 2007, where they crashed out after the group stage with two points from three matches. The job of coaching the under-performing team then fell to Uruguayan Jorge Fossati, but he vacated the helm in September 2008 by mutual consent.
Qatar have long been the continent's under-achievers, and the fact remains that they have rarely made it past the group stage in continental championships and have never represented Asia in a FIFA World Cup. However the tiny Gulf country, where the foreign working forces outnumber the local inhabitants, has been an unpredictable quantity in Asian competitions.
They made their name as the darkest horses in the Asian Zone's final qualifying round for France 1998 when they beat the likes of China and Iran to enter the last match against Saudi Arabia needing just a point to book an automatic qualifying place. However, just one match away from their first-ever place at the FIFA World Cup, they lost out as the Saudis went through 1-0.
They made it to the final qualifying round again four years later, but were totally outpaced by Bora Milutinovic's dynamic China team, who topped the section to progress to their first FIFA World Cup. Frenchman Philippe Troussier took the reigns after Korea/Japan 2002 and he injected some new blood into the side. Understandably, it took time for the inexperienced new-look team to develop into a winning unit, with failures coming in both the 2004 Asian Cup and the qualifying campaign for Germany 2006.
However the price they paid proved worthy as the young players have come of age, forming the backbone of the current team. Midfielder Khalfan Ibrahim stands out after winning the AFC Player of the Year award in 2006 to become the first Qatari player to scoop such an individual award. Unfortunately, the teenager was sidelined for Qatar's Asian Cup campaign after tearing the cruciate ligament in his knee.
Alongside Ibrahim in midfield are Al Sadd duo Ali Naser and Mesaad Al Hamad, both still only 21, and Al Rayyan's 20-year-old midfielder Waleed Jassim.
Hussain Yasser, the former Antwerp, Manchester City and AEL Limassol forward, will be the man to spearhead the team's attack with support from Uruguayan-born striker Sebastian Quintana, who bagged Qatar's three goals in their failed Asian Cup campaign.
Despite suffering a heavy first-up loss to Australia in the third round of AFC qualifying for South Africa 2010, Fossati's men have kept their campaign on track, recording an impressive 2-0 win over Asian champions Iraq before drawing with the fancied Chinese side. A crucial 1-0 away win over hosts China was followed by a 3-1 demolition at the hands of Australia, a result which put Fossati's side on the brink of elimination. Now in a must-win situation, Qatar rallied to prevail over Iraq in a crunch last-day tie, Sayd Ali Bechir heading home the only goal to send his team through to the last ten.
Under the Uruguayan tactician, Qatar opened their qualifying final round campaign brightly with a home 3-0 win over Uzbekistan. However, they soon lost their tactical edge with Fossati forced to resign after a surgery. Frenchman Bruno Mestu took over and despite the former Senegal coach's admirable pedigree, the team never really rediscovered the thrust and drive they had shown under Fossati. In all the remaining seven games the Gulf side managed only three draws, including an away 1-1 against already qualified Japan in their last game which dashed their hopes of even a third-place berth.