ARENAS are rising in Qatar for a World Cup. So the question is, Can a respectable team be built?

On the sideline of a  grass soccer field a few hundred  yards from the recently renovated Khalifa International Stadium, Bora Milutinovic is receiving a stream of well-wishers in four languages.

Miluttinovic, who has taken the national teams of five countries to the World Cup, shakes hands with  dozens of people, seamlessly switching among Serbian, Spanish, German and English, as a match begins in front of him.

At 73, Milutinovic is unlikely to be tasked with guiding a sixth country in a World Cup. But he may have a bigger and more difficult job than that these days.

He is now a soccer adviser to members of Qatar's royal family and a technical adviser for the  Aspire Academy, the vast and talent spotting operation financed by Qatar's government.

Created by a Royal Decree in 2004, Aspire was given the monumental task of nurturing a national team that can compete with the world's best when the country hosts the 2022 World Cup.

On this evening, Milutonivic is checking on the progress of Qatar's under 19 national team, which is playing its Croatian counterpart in the final of a friendly tournament.

''It changes slowly,'' Milutonivic said  -''every day is getting better.''


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