x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

World Cup qualification is 'excellent challenge' for Qatar coach

Milovan Rajevac, the former Ghana coach, hopes to create history by taking the Gulf nation to the showpiece event.

FRIBOURG, Switzerland // Milovan Rajevac wants to create football history as the first man to lead Qatar to the World Cup.

The Serbian coach has a difficult mission, though, in trying to give the wealthy 2022 World Cup hosts credibility on the field to match its status as a player in football politics.

Hired in February, Rajevac's task truly begins next week when the 94th-ranked Qataris start their qualification road to Brazil 2014 with an tricky preliminary-round tie against Vietnam.

Rajevac will be richly rewarded for success, although his three-and-a-year contract could mean little if Qatar are eliminated in the two-leg series before the main draw is even made on July 30 in Rio de Janeiro.

However, he said he is motivated by making history, not money.

"That is the most important thing, the greatest satisfaction. This is something that you cannot buy," Rajavec said through a translator, after his team's final match of a brief European training camp in Switzerland on Tuesday.

"This is an excellent challenge to leave a mark in this country and help them achieve their dreams. It would be just confirmation for everything I did with Ghana."

Last year, Rajevac's Ghana team eliminated the United States in the second round before coming within touching distance of being the first African team to reach a World Cup semi-final.

The team's performance in South Africa enhanced Rajevac's reputation, coming just five years after he was an assistant at the Doha club Al Sadd when the Qatari league was an outpost sprinkled with ageing stars seeking one last payday.

Rajevac said he was "thrilled" to come back to Qatar because of its special place in football's new world order.

"That is why we're trying to build a team for the future. You try to do everything according to a plan."

That plan includes Qatar reaching a World Cup on merit, in its 10th attempt. It qualifies automatically for the 2022 tournament as host.