September 10, 2022
(LUSAIL, Qatar) — On Friday, Qatar hosted its first international soccer match at World Cup Lusail Stadium between Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal SFC and Egypt’s Zamalek SC teams.
Over 77,000 spectators arrived at the 80,000-capacity stadium — Qatar’s recently finished and largest World Cup venue — to attend the Super Cup game, organized by FIFA.
Egypt’s singer Amr Diab, nicknamed the King of Arab pop, entertained the masses ahead of the game with an earlier-announced hour-and-a-half-long concert.
Doaa and Mahmoud Hegab, from Egypt, came with their six-year-old son Mohammad to see Diab sing live and support their country’s team.
Having lived in Qatar for the past nine years, the couple told The Click before the match that they hoped for a victory.
Abid Km from India came both to see the new stadium and to cheer for Saudi’s Al Hilal team, which is now coached by Argentina’s former soccer player, Ramón Díaz.
An Argentina fan from an early age, Km told The Click while entering the stadium that the Friday game would be particularly exciting for him.
“Of course, I hope for Al Hilal to win,” he said, “their winning would also be Díaz’s victory.”
Km’s wishes came true, as initially tying against Zamalek, Al Hilal took the 4-1 victory in penalties, with Peruvian Andre Carrillo scoring the winning goal.
Km also plans to attend the World Cup. He told The Click that he dreamed of seeing Argentina play in a stadium since he was eleven years old. However, he said he’d never imagined moving to Qatar just before the World Cup.
He managed to secure four tickets — two to support his favorite team — for this coming November when the World Cup starts.
“I can’t describe the feeling,” he said, “It is really a dream come true for me.”
Argentina will play both of its first group matches — against Saudi Arabia and Mexico — at Lusail Stadium, which will be officially inaugurated during the World Cup.
Other fans, like Million Hailu and Samuel Eliju from Ethiopia, came to the match just to see the stadium.
Waving their country’s traditional flag, they told The Click that they didn’t care much about who would win the match.
“We’re here to have some fun, that’s all,” they said.
Earlier in August, Qatar hosted a match between local teams Al Arabi and Al Rayyan in the country’s Stars League, but only 20,000 fans visited the 80,000-capacity stadium.
So, Friday’s match between Ali Hilal and Zamalek was the country’s final opportunity to test the stadium ahead of the World Cup, something it did with all other venues during the 2021 Arab Cup.
And there’s another thing that Qatar plans to do: dismantle and repurpose most of the newly-built stadiums once the world departs after the World Cup.
Lusail Stadium, designed after traditional Arab hand-crafted bowls, will be turned into a space for health clinics, schools, shops, and cafes.