Sanchez quits Middle East for Ecuador and a focus on 2026 World Cup qualification

March 13 – Qatar’s World Cup coach Felix Sanchez has a new role. He will succeed Gustavo Alfaro as head coach of Ecuador on a four-year deal, with qualification for the 2026 World Cup his main challenge.

Sanchez and Alfaro both exited the recent World Cup in the group stages in a disappointing fashion.

Hosts Qatar failed to garner a single point from their matches and with just one goal on the board recorded the worst performance by a host nation ever at a global finals. Ecuador had come into the tournament with high hopes, but ultimately Netherlands and Senegal progressed to the second round from their group.

The results led to the departure of both coaches but Sanchez will take over Ecuador after previously having been linked to Iran who are without a coach following the exit of Carlos Queiroz.  “Good luck and success professor!” the FEF tweeted.

The 47-year-old Sanchez began his coaching career at the Barcelona youth academy before moving to the Aspire Academy in 2006. Thirteen years later, he led Qatar to their first-ever continental title at the Asian Cup.

Sanchez will lead Ecuador for the first time against Australia when the two countries play a pair of friendlies in March. Next year, Ecuador will feature at the 2024 Copa America in the United States, one of the hosts for the 2026 World Cup.

With the tournament expansion to a 48-team format; Ecuador will expect to be among the finalists. The South Americans have qualified four times for the World Cup, reaching the round of 16 in 2006, their best result.

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