December 5, 2021
(AL RAYYAN, Qatar) — On Saturday, Morocco qualified for the FIFA Arab Cup quarter-finals by winning 4-0 against Jordan at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, making it the second team to qualify for the final eight.
The tension on the field was palpable, as both teams were eager to secure a victory and qualify for the next round. Fans came to the game en masse, chanting their national songs and encouraging their players. The luck was on Morocco team’s side as they dominated the ball for most of the match, leaving little opportunity for Jordan’s team to counter-attack.
“We are going for the victory,” Morocco’s fan, Sara Naji, told The Click as she was entering the stadium to attend the match.In the later matches on Saturday, Egypt and Algeria secured their places in quarter-finals, with Egypt’s swooping 5-0 victory against Sudan, and Algeria’s 2-0 win over Lebanon.
Just a day before, on Friday, Qatar also secured a victory for the quarter-finals by taking Oman 2-1 in an exciting match at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, 7 km north-west of capital Doha.
The result was decided when Oman accidentally scored for Qatar in the last minute of the match. Fans on both sides waited in anticipation as the judges reviewed the video to decide whether the goal was valid or not. Qatar’s fans were elated when the screen showed that the goal was in their team’s favor, giving a loud three-minute ovation to the players.In addition to the excitement they spark for fans, the Arab Cup matches are also Qatar’s litmus test to assess its readiness for the next year’s World Cup.
From requiring all fans to be fully vaccinated, and introducing mandatory Fan IDs that fans use to access stadiums and free metro rides during match days, Qatar is hoping to use these games as an opportunity to eliminate any possible technical problems when the world descends in 2022.Since winning the 2022 games, Qatar has been working to transform the country, creating a metro in 2019, and building more housing options to host an expected large number of fans.
And, of course, the country is building stadiums. This week alone Qatar opened two: 974 Stadium in Ras Abu Aboud in Doha, and Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor city – around 30 miles north of the capital, both of which will host fans next year.
Close to 48,000 fans attended the opening ceremony at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor on Nov 30, with FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino, and Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, officiating the opening.Fernanda Blaz and Gabriel Montiel, who came all the way from Mexico just for the cup and had attended the opening of Al Bayt Stadium, told The Click that they were impressed with the organization of the event.
“I really liked how everything was signaled,” said Blaz. “From volunteers with big foam fingers at the metro station to the organized free rides to the stadium – everything was really great.”But not everyone was satisfied with the organization at the Al Bayt Stadium opening. Fans took to social media to complain about the price of food and beverages, as well as poor coordination by FIFA staff and volunteers who were in charge of directing fans to buses that were supposed to take them back to metro stations after the match.
“I arrived home at 1 am because I was lost and asked staff and drivers who work there [at the stadium] to help me get to the nearest exit – they didn’t,” wrote one disappointed fan under another fan’s post, “I walked 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) to get to my car.”
But Montiel, who said he had attended several World Cups before, including the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, was satisfied with the transportation, and took the high prices in stride; “Every country becomes more expensive during matches, it’s just the way it is.”Qatar has unveiled seven out of eight planned stadiums for the 2022 World Cup. The remaining, Lusail Stadium, will be opened next year and will reportedly have a capacity of 80,000 seats.