May 27, 2024

Qatar, which hosts the World Cup: The master sports plan threatens to fail

Qatar, which hosts the World Cup: The master sports plan threatens to fail

Status: 09/28/2022 5:07 PM

Despite the massive investment and three months of isolation in the training camp: Qatar could become the weakest host in World Cup history.

The World Cup on our soil should be the beginning of a glorious football future for Qatar. No one was left unchanged: since 2004, the country’s most promising talents have been systematically tracked down and promoted at the Aspire Modern Academy in Doha.

With only about 300,000 Qatari nationals out of the 2.7 million population in Qatar, the FA has also looked abroad for talented people, especially in Africa, with the hope of naturalization and the right to play soon.

And that’s not all: with the domestic league, the Qatar Stars League, not meeting international standards, Aspire Academy also bought a top-tier club in Europe in 2012 with KAS Eupen. In the Belgian provinces, the best academic talents are supposed to jump into professional football and play with the scouts of the top clubs.

Qatar becomes the 2019 Asian champion

The $1 million master plan paid off initially. The Test match victory over Switzerland in 2018 made people sit up and take notice, followed by the Asian Championship title in 2019. Meanwhile, Qatar climbed to 42nd in the FIFA world rankings – about 40 places above the long-term average.

But then the team stagnated and must now be reconfigured in preparation for the World Cup, which begins on November 20, with an intense training camp. For more than three months, Spanish coach Felix Sanchez worked with his team in Spain and Austria, protected from the public.

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Poor performance against Canada

Only with the last two friendlies in Austria the team returned to the audience – with a realistic performance. The 0:2 match against Canada on Friday (23/09/2022) was great, and the Canadians were better by at least one category. The 2-2 match against Chile on Tuesday was a respectable success, despite the Chilean missing a penalty kick.

Qatar’s Akram Afif (right) in the Chile match

Photo: GEPA Images / imago

It seems that intense training work cannot replace a lack of match practice. All national players are contracted in the Qatari league, and they do not have duels with the best international teams. In addition, there is a lack of individual class.

Akram Afif is a beacon of hope

The greatest hope is 24-year-old winger Akram Afif, who has built his career exactly according to the master plan: trained at Aspire Academy, European breakthrough at KAS Eupen, gained experience at FC Villarreal and Sporting Gijón, then returned to the 2018 Qatar League.

Aspire Academy in Doha, Qatar

Photo: Mohamed Dabbous/Reuters

Another player with potential is Al-Moez Abdullah (26), who was discovered by the Qataris in Sudan and transferred to Aspire Academy. When the striker won the Asian Cup semi-finals with Qatar in 2019, his opponent, the United Arab Emirates, appealed. Abdullah and teammate Bassam Al-Rawi, an Iraqi national, were not allowed to play. Abdullah has managed to overcome the insinuation that his mother was born in Qatar.

Big hurdles to eligibility

The FIFA statutes set strict rules for a player playing for a country they weren’t born in. Laws prevented Qatar from assembling a world lineup, as the Emirate did, for example, with handball. In 2015, Qatari handball players became vice world champions in their country.

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Footballers seem to be far from that at the moment. Despite many naturalized players, Qatar is fearless in the competition. This is how the negative record can be shaken: so far, South Africa is the weakest host of the FIFA World Cup in sporting terms, but it managed to achieve a draw with Mexico (1-1) and an exciting victory over France (2-1). When they lost the preliminary round in 2010.

Criticism of human rights violations

Qatar and its Controversial Domestic World Cup: Politically, the damage to the image is already great because worldwide criticism is directed at poor working conditions for guest workers, repression of homosexuals and other human rights abuses.

Now sporting failure is threatened. Qatar needs four points in Group A along with Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands.