40 hours in Doha

40 hours in Doha

Lusail Stadium, Qatar.

After less than 40 hours in the country, I have been to three games and seen five of the eight stadiums in use.

My first game was the opening game of the tournament in Group A, and I was impressed by the Al Bayt Stadium. I tried to research the cost of the stadium but the more I read, the more I am confused. What is clear is that the cost did not matter to the Qataris.

All local transport is free of cost to ticket holders with their Hayya card. So I took the metro to Lusail, which is at the end of the Red Line (and saw the stadium there), and then a bus out to the stadium at Al Bayt where there were no other facilities for miles.

Outside the stadium, my mobile ticket did not show as active till I was at the entrance to the stadium. My colleague was worried about this but I was calm, it would be ok.

During the warm-up to the game the locals were lively, but it was noted that some left before the game even started. Despite tickets being difficult to get in the weeks leading up to the game, they were still available on the day of the match through the resale platform. So it was no surprise to me to see empty seats.

40 hours in Doha.

The game couldn't of got off to a worse start for the hosts with Valencia putting the ball in the net within the first three minutes. Disaster I thought, how are they going to get out of this. Low and behold VAR came to their rescue, which was something no spectators in the stadium saw in real time.

With erratic goalkeeping, the hosts looked vulnerable and sure enough, the keeper gave away a penalty. When Valencia scored I was waiting to find out what rule had been changed to keep the hosts in the game. A second goal meant the home supporters were losing interest, another goalkeeping howler, in my eyes saw him take a player out, but the offence was overlooked.

Almoez Ali who I remembered from the Arab Cup 2019 B.C. (Before Covid) when I saw him score six goals in two games against North Korea and Saudi Arabia, had a chance to score with the last touch of the first half, but it went wide.

Al Bayt Stadium, Qatar.

The Qataris had clearly lost hope and supporters began leaving I noted from the 54th minute. Certain people's comments that this was a football-loving country were clearly in doubt judging by a stadium that was less than half full by the end.

I made my return journey by bus to Souq Waqif, it seemed a good choice as there was no queue to get on the bus. Arriving there we were greeted by the volunteers with a cheery chorus of "Welcome back" as though they didn't expect us to make it and they were happy that we did.

The next morning and I took the metro to Khalifa Stadium. The journey from my nearest metro station, The National Museum, was just 17 minutes.

Khalifa Stadium, Qatar

Khalifa Stadium is the oldest in Qatar built in 1976.

The metro was near the ground, so already I could envisage problems getting away after the game.

Someone messaged me a while before the game and asked me if my app with the tickets on was working. I explained that I believed it was, they were panicking because their ticket has not been activated. But I told them about my experience yesterday. Sure enough, my ticket did not connect with the Bluetooth, but I watched as the steward tapped my phone and entered a code to activate it.

Iranian fans at World Cup 2022.

The match itself seemed like a training exercise for England with Harry Maguire England's best attacker early on.

Once again it was cold in the stadium, no wonder there are no drink breaks, a good thing as that slows the game down.

Not that they need any help with that here as a number of players needed treatment resulting in 14 minutes of additional time in the first half and ten in the second. Not good for anyone looking to make the next game kicking off an hour after this was scheduled to finish.

The game was disappointing as a contest, the largest cheer of the afternoon was for the Iranians' first goal, and it confirmed that a lot had made the trip.

After the game, I decided to head for a bus, instead of catching the metro. On the way, I chatted to Sunrise and they offered me a lift to Education City Metro, which was just one stop from where I was heading. That metro was the stop for Education City Stadium.

On the metro it was full of Welsh fans in full voice, when they spotted him in the carriage they challenged him to sing. He burst into Bion Jovi's, Livin' on a prayer, and the whole carriage joined in. The Welsh tried to beat him by singing their national anthem but they graciously admitted that his rendition was the winner on the night.

40 hours in Doha.

We arrived at the metro at 6.55 pm, 5 minutes before the next game was due to kick off, showing that journeys between matches could be possible.

Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium has a standout feature which is the facade that incorporates various symbols of Qatari culture and is inspired by the sand dunes of the nearby desert, apparently.

Before the game, I received an email with my ticket details on. My guess is that it was sent as a backup in case there were any problems with the ticketing system.

The game was set up to be a contest, with two evenly matched sides. Unlike the last two matches, which highlight that expanding the competition to 32 teams does not improve the quality of the games.

It didn't seem that way as the Americans dominated the first half, and the Welsh looked out of sorts, but the substitution of Dan James at half time turned it into a game of two halves.

For the first time, in the stadium, the temperature felt about right.

After the match, I headed for a bus to find my way home, on the way to the bus hub I saw the Fan Cabins where I will be staying in a few days.

40 hours in Doha, Khalifa Stadium, Qatar.

Qatar 2022

Al Rihla Official Ball

Qatar 50/50

Qatar v Ecuador - Opening Match

Qatar is the World's Cup

Hakuna Matata

Hotels in Doha

Images of Qatar

Offside Technology

Opening Ceremony

Super Sunday

The Calling

Iranian fans at World Cup 2022.

© Ross Clegg & Soccerphile.com

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