- Jordi Alba visits Qatar's Aspire Academy
- Spain and Barcelona defender joined team-mates Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique on tour
- Alba talks about new Qatar coach Felix Sanchez's qualities
For Spain and Barcelona defender Jordi Alba, a recent visit to Qatar showcased a country moving in the ‘right direction’ in terms of youth development ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup™.
“We came a few years ago to Qatar and a lot has changed, I’m very happy with how they are doing things here,” Alba told www.sc.qa in an exclusive interview at the Aspire Academy in Doha.
“All of the facilities here are great, and they help all the kids who want to fulfil their dreams. I hope they can compete at the highest level. Qatar is a country which likes football a lot. The stadiums will be full, and hosting the World Cup will bring a lot of happiness to the people here.”
After going on a tour of Aspire Academy with his team-mates Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique, the UEFA EURO 2012 winner highlighted Qatar’s commitment to developing a talented team for 2022.
“They have great coaches, to prepare the youngsters. It is a great experience, because they will learn a lot, not only in terms of football but also in personal terms. Qatar is improving a lot in football, my colleague Xavi talks to me about the fantastic development of football here.”
What Sanchez will bring to Qatar
Having worked with Qatar’s new national team coach Felix Sanchez at the Barcelona youth academy La Masia, the 28-year-old pointed out that the new generation of Qatari players would benefit greatly from the new coach.
“Felix coached me at Barcelona,” he said. “I have great memories of him and his brother, they helped me and my family a lot. I wish him well for the new job. He is capable and learned a lot in Barcelona, and also here in Doha. He has a winning character, and is a fighter. He is a very intelligent coach, and will do very well here.”
With Barcelona having appointed a new coach in Ernesto Valverde, as well as renewing the contract of Lionel Messi until 2021, the left-back said the Catalan side would be aiming for a clean sweep of trophies this season.
“The renewal of Messi is very important for us,” he continued. “He is the best player in the world and in history. If I can be there playing with him, all the better. We want to win all the titles possible this season, and I want to try and play as much as possible under the new coach. Everyone will start from zero, so I am excited about the new challenge.”
Meanwhile, his Barcelona team-mate Gerard Pique added that Qatari players gathering experience at European teams such as Cultural Leonesa would be beneficial for the home side in five years’ time.
“It is good for the club because they have greater potential for the second division, and it is also good for Aspire Academy because they can put some players there, thinking ahead to 2022,” Pique added.