DOHA • Qatar national coach Jorge Fossati stunned his own football federation by apparently resigning moments after his team beat South Korea on Wednesday to keep their slim World Cup hopes alive.
As a press conference ended early yesterday morning after the 3-2 win in the World Cup qualifiers, the Uruguayan thanked the Qatari people and journalists in what sounded like a goodbye speech.
When asked if the game was his last as national coach, he replied: "Most probably."
Following the press conference and cornered outside the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium, Fossati told reporters it was time for a change.
"If the federation agrees, I don't want to stand in anybody's way," he said. "I don't like to leave the national team but sometimes you must do what you think is right, not what is best for you."
His announcement seemed to surprise even his own federation.
It was announced on Twitter that Qatar Football Association boss Hamad Khalifa Ahmed Al-Thani was surprised by Fossati's remarks, and would make a final decision only after speaking to the Uruguayan.
Fossati has been coach of the national team since September last year. He took over after a dismal start to the final Asian qualifying round for the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia.
Having lost their two first games in Group A, Qatar now have seven points from eight games.
They have won twice, drawn once and lost thrice in the qualifying campaign under Fossati, and still have an outside chance of qualifying for Russia.
They need to win their last two games and hope third-placed Uzbekistan lose both of theirs to reach the play-offs for next summer's competition.
On the other hand, South Korea coach Uli Stielike was facing the axe after the defeat by Qatar plunged the team into a "big crisis".
After the loss, the Korean Football Association (KFA) turned on the German.
"This is a big crisis. We've lost a game which we should have won. The possibility of us surviving in the qualifying rounds is now in limbo," spokesman Cho Jun Heon said.
"KFA may discuss the coach's position when it holds a meeting of its technical committee."
The technical committee is due to meet as early as today, with the agenda likely to be dominated by discussions over Stielike, KFA officials said.
South Korea, seeking their ninth consecutive World Cup appearance, are clinging to the second automatic qualifying spot, seven points behind already-qualified Iran and just one ahead of third-placed Uzbekistan.
To add on to their woes, Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung Min suffered a suspected broken arm after an aerial challenge in the 33rd minute.
Stielike said after the game that the 24-year-old forward may have suffered a fracture.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS