KEIR RADNEDGE in DOHA: Paulo Autuori has been hired by Qatar as the Gulf state’s fourth national coach in a year in the attempt to qualify, for the first time, for the World Cup finals.
Autuori was recently the Qatar Olympic coach and is the fourth national coach in just over a year. The QFA is determined that the team should improve its 96th place in the world rankings to raise the country’s profile and football credibility ahead of the 2022 World Cup hosting.
Born in Rio de Janeiro on August 25, 1956, Paulo Autuori de Mello joins the ranks of notable coaches – including Jose Mourinho and Arrigo Sacchi – who have achieved outstanding success without ever have been an outstandinbg player.
He studied physical education and sports administration and started coaching work in Brazil and then Portugal in his 20s in the late 1970s. Autuori was the first coach to lead Marítimo into European competitions. Later he managed Peru and then took Sao Paulo to victory in the Copa Libertadores and Club World Cup.
Autuori stayed on in Japan with Kashima Antlers the returned home to Brazil briefly with Cruzeiro before starting his Qatari adventure with Al-Rayyan. A spell with Gremio back in Porto Alegre preceded a return to Al-Rayyan and subsequent appointment, last year, as coach of the Qatari Olympic team.
He now succeeds another Brazilian, Sebastiao Lazaroni, as senior national team boss. His immediate task is guiding Qatar to the final round of 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
Qatar, in Group E of the third preliminary round, need a draw in their final match on February 29 away to leaders Iran. They could have qualified had they beaten Bahrain in Doha in November but were held goalless. Bahrain go to weak Indonesia in the last round of matches at the end of February but Qatar should qualify through a superior goal difference even if they lose.
Lazaroni, who bossed Brazil at the 1990 World Cup finals in Italy, was sacked in December only five months after having succeeded equally short-lived Serb Milovan Rajevac. The last straw, as far as Lazaroni was concerned, was Qatar’s failure to progress beyond the group stage of the Arab Games, hosted in Qatar.