Barring a miracle, Qatar’s national football team will not be playing in next year’s World Cup in Russia.
The team suffered a 1-0 loss to Iran last night in a home game defeat attended by thousands of fans.
This means Qatar is now at the very bottom of its six-team group, behind China and Syria. Iran meanwhile has moved to first place.
Only the top two teams in the group will automatically qualify for the 2018 tournament.
Acknowledging the implications, Qatar Coach Jorge Fossati told AFP he hadn’t yet done the math, but “for sure we are back in a very bad, bad situation.”
Competing in Russia had been an important goal for Qatar, whose team has never qualified to play in the World Cup.
Qatar will automatically get a chance to participate in 2022 because the nation is hosting that tournament.
But in recent history, no team has ever not earned its first chance to compete beforehand.
The road to Russia has been a rollercoaster of a ride for the national team, which suffered three straight losses last fall (including to Iran in September).
Spirits were low then, but went up again after Qatar beat Syria in October.
Now however, with only four points and a handful of games to go, things look very dire.
The disappointment was palpable last night, when the home crowd booed Iran coach Carlos Queiroz off the field as he blew everyone a kiss, according to AFP.