Evaristo: I believe in Qatar

Evaristo de Macedo, the legendary Brazilian coach who took Qatar's footballers to their first two Olympics in Los Angeles 1984 and Barcelona 1992, believes Qatar can make it to Rio 2016.

Ahead of their crucial AFC U-23 Championship semi-final against South Korea on Tuesday, Brazilan legend Evaristo de Macedo is convinced he will welcome Qatar to his hometown if they simply believe in their own ability. 

 Evaristo de Macedo

Having played for both Real Madrid and Barcelona in an accomplished playing career as a striker which included a five-goal haul in a single game for Brazil's national team, Evaristo went on to coach Brazil's Under 20 side before taking charge of Qatar's national teams. In 1981 he helped Qatar's U-20s reach second place at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Australia, beating Brazil and England on the way to the final. 

Twenty-four years after Qatar's last Olympic participation, Evaristo told www.sc.qa: "I believe in this Qatar team, they have shown that they have great potential. In this decisive match, they have to believe in their qualities, always think of victory and I know they can do it. That was the belief we had to qualify for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona." 

In 1984 Qatar reached their first ever Olympics in Los Angeles, drawing 2-2 with eventual winners France in the opening game before going out in the group stages. In 1992, however, Evaristo's side not only qualified once more for the Olympics, but also played a memorable tournament which saw them reach the quarter-finals and play at Camp Nou in Barcelona. 

Speaking from his home in Rio de Janeiro, Evaristo added: "In 1992 we played a fantastic qualification tournament and won it to reach Barcelona. We played very well and reached the last eight where we played at Camp Nou. If some refereeing decisions had gone our way we could have gone even further. Of course now I am excited and will watch and find out if Qatar can qualify for Rio 2016."

The coach who took Qatar to their first Gulf Cup triumph in Doha in December 1992, concluded by saying that the country was on the right track to developing a competitive team in 2022. 

"My message is simple," he added. "Come to Rio! Qatar is always on my mind and they are on the right track towards developing young players and a team which can compete well in 2022. It would be fantastic if they make it to Rio 2016 and I look forward to meeting the team and welcoming Qatar here in Rio de Janeiro.".

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