Qatar’s knack for producing young talent is most evident in its junior national team’s record; In addition to becoming champions of Asia in 1990 after winning the 1990 AFC U-16 Championship held in the UAE, they also finished second on five occasions in 1985, 1986, 1992, 1994, and 1998.
The junior marrons became consistent finalists in the Asian U-16 championships since they first reached the final in 1985 when they lost to Korea Republic in a dramatic penalty shoot-out on home soil. This was followed by another appearance in 1988 before winning the title in 1990.
One year later, they managed a fourth-place finish in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, they advanced to the semis on the expense of the United States, whom they defeated 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out after the score had settled 1-1 at the end of regulation time. Shortly after, they themselves went down in a penalty shootout to eventual champions, Ghana, in the semi-finals, before suffering the same fate against Argentina in the third-place match respectively.
Qatar’s tradition of junior teams’ excellence was to be prolonged for another decade; they reached the World Cup three more times on 1993, 1995 and 2005.
In the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Cup, Qatar were drawn 2-2 with the Netherlands before half-time in their first group match. Although Qatar went on to lose the match 5-3, many future talents were discovered during the tournament, including Khalfan Ibrahim who went on to win the Asian Player of the Year award one year later and became one of the most prominent Asian footballers of his generation.