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Spaniard Aspiring to make Qatar competitive

07 October 2014, 17:29

Paris - Formerly responsible for strategic planning at Real Madrid, Spaniard Ivan Bravo is now charged with the task of building a Qatar side capable of competing at the 2022 World Cup on home soil.

Bravo is now the Director General of the Aspire Academy in Qatar, the national academy of sport which, he says, is attempting to "give sporting success" to the tiny Gulf state.

Qatar, with a population of just over two million, has never won an Olympic gold medal and has never competed at a World Cup, although the awarding of the 2022 finals to the oil rich country means that will soon change.

And Aspire is now focusing on preparing players from Qatar capable of competing in the World Cup on home soil, for all the ongoing controversy about FIFA's awarding of the tournament in the first place.

Also read: Croatia coach optimistic for Bulgaria qualifier

Speaking to AFP in Paris, where he was attending a conference organised by Aspire, Bravo insisted that building towards the World Cup was not initially a key goal of the academy but has turned into one since his arrival.

"Aspire was born in 2004 and was the vision, the dream, of the royal family of Qatar, who wanted a place where youngsters would have all they needed to be successful in sport. And also to form them as people," he said.

Bravo arrived at Aspire three years ago, just months after Qatar was chosen so controversially by FIFA, in December 2010, to stage the 2022 World Cup.

"I arrived at the start of 2011, because Qatar had been given the World Cup and wanted to compete at a demanding and high level," he said.

"At that time they needed help and I was at Real Madrid. It seemed like a good, exciting project to me, in a country hopeful of achieving something in sport.

'A matter of time'

"We want the boys that we are rearing to fulfil their potential. When the World Cup comes around, hopefully the team will be competitive. Since 2010, when Qatar was named as host nation, we have looked to 2022 as a target.

"I am sure that we will come into Qatar 2022 with a very competitive team. We will work with that hope and there is plenty of support within the country.

"Everyone wants the same thing and when everyone pulls in the same direction and works with hope, dedication and knowledge, it is only a matter of time before results come."

Bravo did not reveal the extent of the budget he is working with, but he admitted that he would one day like to see a Qatari player turning out for a leading European club.

"I hope it happens soon, but that would need to be more the result of what we are doing than the objective," he said.

Bravo also refused to become embroiled in the debate about the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar and the controversy as to whether the finals should be played in the northern hemisphere summer or winter.

"That is not a topic for us. It is for the organisers of the World Cup, for FIFA. We get on with our job, which is to bring through young players and form a team. That is our mission. We don't offer an opinion on anything else," he added.



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