Football star Khaled Salman: FIFA World Cup already successful for Qatar
Khalid Salman, a former Qatari football star and today the Qatar Legacy Ambassador with the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, said that before a ball is kicked in the FIFA World Cup, Qatar has already succeeded. He noted that the honor of hosting the first FIFA World Cup in the Arab world is success in and of itself.
"When the Maroons take to the pitch, they will not only be representing Qatar, but the entire Arab world. This will be the moment of a lifetime for the players, and for fans as well. It's a dream come true for all of us. For me personally, I tried twice, albeit unsuccessfully, to qualify for the World Cup, but now the big tournament is coming right to our front door," recalled Salman, who played for Qatar at the 1981 FIFA World Youth Championship, scoring a hat-trick against Brazil.
As a member of Group A, Qatar will face South American side Ecuador, African champions Senegal, and the Netherlands, who have advanced to three different FIFA World Cup Finals respectively. Qatar will play its first game against Ecuador on 21 November at Al Bayt Stadium, an iconic venue with architecture based on traditional tents used across the Middle East.
"For me, the Ecuador match is the most important one, because a win there opens up so many possibilities for us in the next two games. We have played them before, and I know that we will be very prepared coming into that match, and I hope that the symbolism that the stadium holds will bring us good luck on what will be a historic day," said Salman.
On 25 November, Qatar will face Senegal at Al Thumama Stadium, which also features another cultural icon of the region, the gahfiya, a skullcap popular throughout the Arab world.
"Senegal boasts some of the world's best players, but in football, everything comes down to those 90 minutes on the pitch, and we have seen so many unexpected results over the years. On paper, Senegal are a much better team than Qatar, but everything is possible," said Salman, who scored twice against France in the 1984 Summer Olympic Games of Los Angeles to secure a draw against the gold medalists.
Qatar will end their group stage against the Dutch, this time in front of over 60,000 fans at Al Bayt Stadium. The Netherlands will be competing in their eleventh World Cup and will aim to make an impact after not qualifying for the previous tournament.
"We all grew up watching Dutch football legends like Johan Cruyff. It's a school of football that has taught us so much over the years, and I think that the differences between Qatar and the Dutch will be too much. Of course, I hope that Qatar wins and replicates the success they had during the 2019 Asian Cup, but I think this will be a very difficult match," said Salman.
There will be eight world-class stadiums in Qatar for the FIFA World Cup 2022 between 21 November and 18 December and fans will be able to attend more than one match each day due to its compact nature.
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Image Credit: Qatar2022