DOHA: The FIFA World Cup in Qatar is more than three years away but the excitement is already palpable after the country launched its second stadium – Al Wakrah Stadium in Doha – for the premier football tournament in 2022.
Qataris are beaming with pride as the Gulf nation has made giants strides in Asian football and also in their preparation for the World Cup.
Qatar national team captain Hassan Al-Haidos (pic), who won the recent Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates, is super proud as a Qatari to see the rapid development of football in their country.
His club Al-Saad played in the spanking new Al Wakrah Stadium in Doha as they faced Al Duhail in the Amir Cup final.
“As a Qatari, it fills us with pride to play in this stadium. It’s a fantastic stadium. The changing room, facilities and ground look immaculate.
“It’s a real honour to be among the first to play in this stadium. It shows how we’ve grown over the years and I only hope that better things would come in the near future.”
The Al Wakrah Stadium is the second tournament-ready venue following the inauguration of the Khalifa International Stadium in 2017.
It is also the first stadium the country has built from the ground up. The stadium will host matches up until the quarter-final stage and has a capacity of 40,000.
Al-Duhail secretary general Adnan Al-Ali said everyone in the country is working really hard to make the 2022 World Cup a real success.
He said clubs and administrators know that the next three years will be crucial to chart Qatar’s future in world football and are happy to see the progress made by the country.
“The Al Khalifa Stadium was launched in 2017 and we saw how well it was received by the football community. The inauguration of Al Wakrah and also the final between my team and Al-Saad heralds a new era for our football.
“Insyallah, all the stadiums will be ready before the big year, which is 2022.
“Everyone is working hard to ensure everything is ready for the players and fans.”
Qatar’s success in the Asian Cup set tongues wagging as their young players like Akram Afif, Bassam Al Rawi, Almoez Ali and Abdelrahman Moustafa are expected to play huge roles for their country in the next few years.
Adnan said the decision to blood youngsters from the Aspire Academy has paid off and he’s hoping that the team will only get better in the next three years.
“It’s now a policy for the clubs to have young players. Also, the club administrators are also young. We’re now thinking ahead for the 2022 World Cup. There’s no moving back but only moving forward for the country.”