Soccer-Asian Cup-winning coach Lopez handed Qatar contract until 2026

FILE PHOTO: Qatar coach Marquez Lopez reacts during the Asian Cup Round of 16 match against Palestine at Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor, Qatar - January 29, 2024 REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari/File Photo

(Reuters) - Qatar's Asian Cup-winning coach Marquez Lopez has been handed a contract until 2026 and will take charge of the team in a full-time capacity, the Qatar Football Association has announced.

The Spaniard took over on an interim basis on loan from Qatar Stars League club Al-Wakrah in late December following the departure of Carlos Queiroz, and steered the host nation to a second successive title with victory in the final over Jordan.

"The Qatar Football Association expresses gratitude and appreciation to the Al-Wakrah Sports Club for their cooperation and consent in facilitating coach Marquez Lopez's appointment as national team head coach," the organisation said in a statement.

Lopez's next game in charge will be against Kuwait on March 21 in Asia's preliminaries for the 2026 World Cup.

Qatar have never qualified for the World Cup finals through the preliminaries, having made their debut in 2022 as tournament hosts.

The Asian champions are top of their group, which also includes India and Afghanistan, with six points from their first two games. The top two finishers advance to the next phase.

(Reporting by Michael Church)

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