THE decision to host the Emir’s Cup final at the refurbished Khalifa International Stadium, the first venue to be completed for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, was indeed a masterstroke.
Actions speak louder than words, goes the adage. And there was no better way to prove this and silence our critics as the Emir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani inaugurated the new facility “in the name of every Qatari and Arab citizen”.
It was a strong message to those who doubted our capability and questioned our love for football. By one stroke, we answered all of them, without giving even an iota of doubt.
With nearly 48,000 people in attendance, that too a vast majority of them Qataris, the atmosphere was electric. A stunning firework display and spectacular light show lit up the night. The overall ambience inside the stadium was great and, with the cooling technology in place, cozy too.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino, Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kabore and AFC chief Shaikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa were among the dignitaries. Overall, one could feel a World Cup atmosphere, five years ahead of time.
I’m sure the world is now convinced that Qatar would organise an amazing World Cup as we started delivering on our promises one by one.
The biggest approval came from Infantino himself when he said the stadium opening gave FIFA the confidence regarding the level of Qatar’s preparations. He commended the government and Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy for their strong commitment towards making the region’s first World Cup a great success.
As a Qatari, I felt proud because all arrangements for the stadium opening as well as final match were near-flawless and impeccable.
I take this opportunity to also congratulate Al Sadd on their triumph which they rightly deserved. It should be said to Al Rayyan’s credit that they too gave their best, but with the winning goal coming so late into stoppage time, there was no chance for them to fight back.
In sports, there can only be one winner. But to me, last Friday, there were many winners — the State of Qatar and its people, who created an unforgettable experience.