Football was brought to Qatar in the 1940s and 50s by expatriate oil workers. Soon after the formation of the Qatar Football Association in 1970, the national team played its first match against Bahrain in the Gulf Cup. It was the first match in the history of the Gulf Cup, which Qatar lost 1-2 with Mubarak Faraj scoring Qatar's only goal. Qatar have only once progressed beyond the group stage in continental championships. However, they have won the Gulf Cup twice, in 1992 and 2004, both times as host, and qualified for the Asian Cup finals in 1980, 1984, 1988 (host), 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2007, and as hosts for 2011.
The QFA formed a reserve team for the Qatar national side in 1984.
Qatar reached the Asian Zone's final qualifying round for France 1998 when they beat China and Iran to enter the last match against Saudi Arabia needing just a point to gain an automatic qualifying place. However, they lost out as the Saudis went through 1–0.
They reached the final qualifying round again four years later, but were defeated by Bora Milutinovic's China team, who topped the section to progress to their first FIFA World Cup. Frenchman Philippe Troussier took the manager's job after Korea–Japan 2002, but was unsuccessful in both the 2004 Asian Cup and the qualifying campaign for Germany 2006.
Troussier was sacked after the World Cup qualifying campaign, and under Bosnian Dzemaludin Musovic the team won the Gulf Cup in 2004 and the Asian Games gold in 2006. Musovic stepped down after Qatar took just two points from three matches in the AFC Asian Cup 2007. The job of coaching the team in qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup fell to UruguayanJorge Fossati, who led the team throughout the first and second AFC rounds up to the third one. After leaving them at the top of their group in the third round with only two played matches, Fossati had to undergo surgery. Subsequently, the Qatar FA ended their co-operation with him, who supposedly needed too long to recover from surgery. Bruno Metsu was called up for the job, but Qatar failed to qualify after finishing fourth in their qualifying group. Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Qatar have qualified to the 1984 and 1992 Olympic Games football tournaments.
Their U-17 youth team won the Asian Cup one time, while their Youth team made a famous appearance in the 1981 FIFA World Youth Championship, where they finished as runners-up to Germany in the final match.
The Gulf Cup of Nations has been played on a bi-annual basis since 1970. The tournament has changed since the first edition from a round-robin basis to a knockout tournament in the latter years. Notably, the 2000 edition was cancelled and the 2003 and 2010 were moved due to congested fixture lists with other tournaments, such as the AFC Asian Cup.