Coach Carlos hopes to revive struggling Qatar SC
Spaniard looks to strengthen team ahead of the new season as former champions prepare to regain their touch in the elite field.
The sparkling trophy cabinet speaks eloquently of a successful past. The photographs on display too are telling reminders of times when victories were a matter of routine. But at Qatar Sports Club, it is the present that is tense and the future tough to predict.
Former league champions QSC are passing through hard times – 2018-19 has been one of the most challenging seasons for them as they dangled on tenuous strings in the relegation zone. They had to win a play-off against Muaither SC, the second division runners-up, to stay among the elite.
Naturally, Sergio Batista, who came in as coach midway through and signed a deal till the end of the season, didn’t get an extension. Picking up the reins at the start of the new season is Carlos Alos, a Spaniard who is keen to make a mark in the higher levels after journeying through Kazakhstan, Hong Kong and Morocco in his previous coaching assignments.
Ambition and energy were on full view as QSC went through their pre-season drills at the warm-up ground in their home venue. Inside, the athletics track around the main pitch has been ripped out and renovation works were in full swing. The football team also resembled a work in progress as the new coach conducted a training session under flood lights.
Watching intently from the sidelines, Hassan Al Ansari, the club’s Head of Football, also gave a realistic view. “The idea is to stay in the top division,” he said with a smile that reflected some concern as the training session wound to a close.
Carlos, obviously, knows the path ahead is hard.
“I know I have come to a club which did not have a good season last time,” the 43-year-old told Inside Qatar. “This season, we are working to maintain stability. My expectations are high, and I hope to have a good league.”
His first target is to strengthen the team. He has identified the areas to focus on and is open about his priorities and challenges.
“In football, the players are the most important people. They are the protagonists. So now, we have a very important period to choose the best possible team, from the pool of local and professional players, and form a good squad. Our chances in the league will depend on these decisions.
“I am looking at some players to fill certain positions – especially in the midfield. We are looking at both creative and holding midfielders as we have problems in these areas,” he said.
Carlos’ coaching philosophy has been influenced by his time at Barcelona. He was the director of international projects at the Spanish club before his stints abroad. Obviously, the Barca influence is overwhelming.
“Yes, I do like my players to control games,” he said. “I like to attack and defend with the ball always, to be owners of the ball. I always try my best to get my teams to play aggressively, play high pressing game. That is my philosophy but we have to adapt a little bit depending on our possibilities and our players,” he added.
Coaching for the first time in Qatar, Carlos has some adjustments to do, but he has immense faith on his experience from the immediate past.
“I am new to Qatar, but not to Arab football,” he said, pointing to his previous tenure at FAR Rabat in Morocco. “When I signed there, they were in relegation position. They had only won three games and had just 14 points. It was a similar scenario. But we managed to keep the team in the top division, coming through a very difficult situation.”
Optimism and hope flickered in his eyes as he wound up the interaction.
“I hope with the work we are putting in, we could do better here,” he concluded.