Al Sadd's Raul: I hope Qatar qualify for the 2014 World Cup

The former Real Madrid striker has no concerns about Qatar's ability to host the 2022 World Cup, but says developing the next crop of national team players needs to be a focus
Spanish legend and new Al Sadd signing Raul says he hopes Qatar qualify for Brazil 2014 and believes improving the national team should be the priority for the 2022 World Cup hosts.

The 34-year-old former Real Madrid and Schalke striker penned a one-year contract with the 2011 Asian champions earlier this month, becoming the biggest name to currently play in Qatar's Stars League (QSL).

Speaking to Doha Stadium Plus, Raul revealed he had no doubts Qatar could host a successful 2022 event and believed developing the current crop of youth for the future national team needs to be made a priority.

"Qatar has everything in place to host a successful World Cup in 2022," Raul said.

"The priority should be to improve its national team in 10 years’ time to first become the top side in Asia and then catch up with the world’s best. For that to happen, the QSL must raise the bar on itself."

Qatar have been grouped alongside South Korea, Iran, Uzbekistan and Lebanon in the final round of 2014 World Cup qualifying and Raul said he hopes they can qualify for future benefit.

"I hope Qatar qualify for the 2014 Brazil finals. That should greatly motivate youngsters in the age group of 15-16, who will be playing the World Cup in front of home fans 10 years later," he said.

"I’m here to support the Qatari players and ASPIRE Academy, which will richly contribute to the idea. I want to collaborate with the academy, which is a great concept, and pass the experience that I gained in Spain and Germany on to aspiring Qatari footballers."

The Spaniard added he and his wife were drawn to Qatar by its culture but insisted he was at Al Sadd to win titles, not for one final paycheque.

"I like this country and its culture. I spoke to my wife, who had stayed in Doha for a few days, and she too sounded comfortable. My agent then worked on the prospects and that’s how I’m here," he said.

"I find it as an opportunity to play for one of the biggest Qatari clubs. My top most priority is to help Sadd play competitive football and win more titles."

He continued: "A champion’s thirst for titles should be insatiable. With Real Madrid, we won everything in club football. Still, we wanted to win more. There’s always a winning ambition in me, which keeps me going."

Meanwhile, former Benfica and Al Ahly boss Manuel Jose will replace the departed Jorge Fossati as Raul's new coach at Al Sadd, according to Egyptian reports.

According to Ahly TV the 66-year-old Portuguese, who left Egyptian club Al Ahly earlier this year, has signed a contract with the Qatari outfit.

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