Doha, Qatar: Two-time FIFA World Cup finalist Johan Neeskens praised Qatar's preparations for 2022 during a recent visit to Doha.
Neeskens, who starred for the Netherlands in both the 1974 and 1978 tournaments, took a tour of the Legacy Pavilion at Al Bidda Tower alongside Gijs de Jong, General Secretary of the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB). The visit coincided with the KNVB signing a memorandum of understanding with the Qatar Football Association.
Famous for being the second 'Johan' alongside Johan Cruyff, Neeskens won three successive European Cups playing alongside Cruyff at Ajax, before the pair moved to Barcelona to claim further honours, including the European Cup Winners' Cup. During this spell, the Dutch national team developed its famous 'Total Football' brand – a unique tactical style which involves any outfield player taking over the role of any other player in the team. Total Football meant the Dutch became famous for their classy style – though it marginally failed to bring success, with the Netherlands losing successive World Cup finals to West Germany and Argentina respectively.
After hearing about Qatar's infrastructure projects and legacy programmes, Neeskens said: "You have four years to go but what you have already achieved – and what you're still planning – is very impressive."
Neeskens continued: "I think it is amazing how you want to show the world what you can achieve because the ideas are unbelievable – from the stadiums to the accommodation, such as the desert camps and cruise ships."
Neeskens also believes Qatar's national team is on the right track after a string of positive results in recent months.
He said: "I recently watched Qatar draw against Iceland and beat Switzerland – and they played very good football. Switzerland then beat Belgium 5-2, so this shows how much Qatar has been improving.
"The World Cup can give so much – especially if the host nation is performing well – so I hope Qatar can keep it up. I also hope the Netherlands qualifies for 2022 and we finally win the tournament!"
De Jong was also impressed with Qatar's preparations – particularly plans to donate stadium infrastructure to developing countries after the tournament.
"I've been very impressed by all the preparations," said de Jong. "The stadium models look good and the distances are so short between venues. The legacy part is also very important. It's a good idea to help other parts of the world and to get everyone involved in the tournament."