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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Gianfranco Zola dismissed as coach of Qatari club Al-Arabi

Gianfranco Zola had signed a two-year deal at Al-Arabi.

Gianfranco Zola has been sacked as coach of Qatari club Al-Arabi, a spokesman said on Monday.

Zola signed a two-year contract with the club last year, but the spokesman told AFP: "Our president has said he is going to change the coach."

Zola will be succeeded by Uruguayan Gerardo Pelusso after the club finished eighth in the league, which has 14 teams -- the same position as the previous season.

The decision to replace him comes after a new president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Jabr Al-Thani, took over...

Qatar chief: Sepp's Blatter support of U.S. World Cup bid should be looked at

Sepp Blatter has said he wanted the United States to host the 2022 World Cup.

Sepp Blatter's support for the American World Cup bid should face more scrutiny, the head of Qatar's 2022 organizing committee said on Thursday in his latest expression of frustration at the focus on the probity of their winning campaign.

Qatar's FIFA backers have been criticized for seemingly ignoring the inspection report that highlighted the Gulf nation's fierce summer heat before still voting for the bid in 2010.

But Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary general of the Qatar organizing committee, believes...

 By John Duerden

Qatar's Akram Afif chases La Liga dream, 2018 World Cup qualification

Akram Hassan Afif of Qatar vs. Saudi Arabia in AFC U23 Championship, January 2016
Akram Afif, centre, is hoping to become the first Qatari to play in La Liga.

If Qatar's biggest football dream was to host the 2022 World Cup, then a close second is to qualify for the 2018 edition. And it could happen with the Qataris among the 12 countries in the final round, trying to take one of Asia's four automatic spots in Russia.

Finishing in the top two in a group containing South Korea, Iran, Uzbekistan, China and Syria will be difficult but not impossible for a team who easily won their group in the second round of qualification. National team coach Jose Daniel...

Thailand's Zico wants good WCQ start against Saudis, wary of Japan trio

ESPN FC's Jason Dasey and David Mitchell look ahead to Thailand's upcoming AFC World Cup qualifying campaign.

Thailand's head coach Kiatisuk 'Zico' Senamuang insists his side are ready to spring a surprise despite being drawn in a tough group B for the final phase of AFC qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The Thais have been placed in what looks the more difficult of the two qualifying groups, facing Asian champions Australia, regular World Cup finalists Japan and Middle Eastern heavyweights Saudi Arabia. They also have to play Iraq again -- having faced them in the previous round -- and the United...

Thailand's Zico unafraid of Japan and Australia in AFC WCQ final round

ESPN FC's Jason Dasey and David Mitchell look ahead to Thailand's upcoming AFC World Cup qualifying campaign.

Thailand will face Asian giants Australia and Japan in the final round of qualification for the 2018 World Cup.

The War Elephants were placed in Group B at the draw held in Malaysia on Tuesday, with the two heavyweights, as well as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Iraq.

Kiatisuk Senamuang's men kick-off their first final round campaign since 2002 on Sept. 1 at Saudi Arabia before hosting four-time Asian champions Japan five days later.

"We always knew it was going to be a tough draw for us,"...