For Uruguayan coach and former goalkeeper Jorge Fossati football is more than a sport, it's a philosophy to live by. The passion which drives the former Uruguay and Qatar national team boss can be seen in the moment when he walks past a poster of the first ever FIFA World Cup™ in his homeland. He stops to kiss it, and when thereafter he passes the poster of the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, he looks at it fondly and mutters ‘what lovely memories’.
In a long and successful playing career he has a particularly special memory of the time he faced up against a young player who would go on to become a World Cup legend: Diego Maradona.
“I had to play against many very good players, but to play against Maradona was one of the most difficult moments,” Fossati said in an in-depth interview with www.sc.qa. “It happened when I was at Independiente and he was at Boca Juniors. In his early days he was, in my opinion, even more fantastic than later on in European football where he had to adapt to a different style. Unfortunately he scored against me, he played a great one-two with Miguel Brindisi and finished how he knew so well.”
For his country’s national team, there is one stand-out player who he sees as the ‘most influential in the history of Uruguay’. “I have never seen a player who is as influential in the Uruguayan national team as Luis Suarez, for his own team as well as for the opponents. It was clearly shown in the last World Cup. He didn’t arrive in his best condition. But there was a tournament before the unfortunate reaction of Luis and afterwards, both in terms of performance and results.”
Looking forward to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in a country Fossati knows very well, having coached both Qatar and Al Sadd Club with great success, the Uruguayan highlights the unique advantage of Qatar’s small size.
I have never seen a player who is as influential in the Uruguayan national team as Luis Suarez.
“In today’s world, if it was organised by a country I didn’t know I would have some doubts, because it is not easy to have so many people in the city and have everything moving smoothly. But in the case of a country which I know well like Qatar, I know that they will solve all of the problems. I have had the good fortune to know the people at the head of the project, I know that all the details will be taken care of well.
"It will give the world a unique opportunity. In my country it may have been possible in 1930, but it was another world. In 2022, to see two or three games in the stadium in the same day is something simply fantastic, and a unique opportunity for the football fan.”
November? No problem
Fossati also joined an increasing number of football players and experts who believe a World Cup in the middle of the season will lead to increased performances on the pitch. “The World Cup is the most important event in world football, and the players have to be in the best conditions to play," he explained.
"So anyone who knows about football knows that a player will never have his best moment at the end of a season. He will arrive with his last efforts. In the middle of the season he will be in his peak condition, so I celebrate that the World Cup will be in November and December in 2022. Since the tournament is given so far in advance to a host nation, there should not be a fixed date and there should be the option to choose when it is done.”
Now in charge of Qatar’s traditional giants Al Rayyan, he is currently preparing his side for the start of the new Qatar Stars League, and has at his disposal a talented squad which includes the likes of former Espanyol striker Sergio Garcia.
“I feel that the expectations of the Al Rayyan fans are high, it is logical because they have the mentality of a big club. It is good that they have this mentality. We will give our best, which is our obligation, and which is what you do when you feel football as a passion, which I still do. Everything is possible, nothing is impossible. But we will need time and hard work to achieve our objectives. Now the big challenge is to take Rayyan back to the top positions. We want to finish in the top four this year.”