The facilities are top-notch. The event itself has been a second to none. The World Cup 2022 has been a dream fulfilled for the host nation.
Qatar as a nation had always dreamt of hosting the entire world in a festival of football, the biggest single sporting event.
At first, Nigeria was upstaged in the hosting of the then World Youth Championship (U-20 World Cup) in 1995.
At short notice, following the covert politically-motivated withdrawal of Nigeria’s hosting rights, the U-20 World Cup was moved to Qatar.
Soon, the country became the ultimate destination for football events – the FIFA Arab Cup, and even an edition of CAF Super Cup.
Like Nigeria did when the Giant of Africa eventually hosted the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 1999, hosting appears to be the major goal, forgetting that the country also had a team to prepare.
After just five days of a projected 28-day World Cup and the host nation has crashed out. This is the first time that will happen in the 92-year history of the World Cup.
Qatar has become the second host nation after South Africa not to advance beyond the group stage.
This is the situation after their 3-1 loss to Senegal and the eventual 1-1 draw of Netherlands and Ecuador.
The muffled anger from the fans was evident outside Al Thumama Stadium after Qatar’s loss to Senegal.
With a display of opulence, Qatar has prepared for the hosting, rather than the participation in what has become the most expensive World Cup in history.
High-capacity stadiums have been built from the scatch. Most of them are to be dismantled after the World Cup. Metrolines were purposely built for the World Cup. Well, that would be enduring legacy for the event.
Overall, a reported $200 billion to put on a “gathering for all mankind”, as the title of the opening ceremony said, but it was all over for the team in 180 minutes.
“This whole team should be changed,” a Qatar fan told Reuters outside Al Thumama stadium, without revealing her name.
Qatar’s opening match with Ecuador will go down as the most unappealing World Cup match ever. Even fans were leaving the match before the end of the first half.
It later came to light that team players were merely camped and not allowed to feature for their clubs in the domestic league.
They became match rusty! In the opening minutes of their opening match, it was all evident. Goalkeeper Saad AlSheeb would have cost his team an early goal had it not been for the intervention of VAR.
According to a Reuters report, the World Cup is more of a ‘football project’ for Qatar. On the eve of the crucial Senegal game, Coach Felix Sanchez said the team had prepared psychologically for the possibility of an early exit from the tournament.
“We are a small country, the smallest to host the World Cup, and we are aware of the fact that we may be knocked out early, but that doesn’t mean the end of the football project,” he said.
“I am confident that Qatar will continue their project to maintain a strong team, compete and qualify for the upcoming tournaments,” he added.