By Onochie Anibeze, Qatar
Brazilian fans are here.
Their team and South America’s champions, Flamingoes play Tuesday against Asia’s champions, Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia.
They will battle for a place in the final of this year’s FIFA Club World Cup. They are favoured to win. They have been condemned to win. They know that and the fans expect that. That is probably why everybody here is looking beyond that encounter.
The talk in town is on the Liverpool match against Concacaf champions, Monterrey of Mexico on Wednesday. Mexico have a touch of South American football and they spice it with some pace. Some people are talking of a possible upset here but the majority have ruled that out. Liverpool are not only the European champions, they are flying high and shinning like the stars this season.
EPL can testify to their current form. They have been given the match on paper. Qatari people want to see good football. They don’t mind if the appetiser to the 2022 begins to flourish now. That’s why they are expected in their numbers in the remaining matches here. Liverpool appear the club of the 2019 Club World Cup and Mo Salah the face of the tournament. Everybody talks about him here. His pictures on arrival are everywhere and in all newspapers.
He is a hero here and many will come to watch him play and hope he does not exhibit some selfish traits that have sometimes made him look bad. Sadio Mane is another player fans can’t wait to watch. Interestingly, the two most popular machine guns here are Africans whose representatives, Esperance, failed to proceed after losing to Al Hilal.
But they showed the world that Africans have passion for the game. Their supporters made a huge mark on the streets and the stands even as their players couldn’t match their dexterity on the pitch. The Africans, at least, have been known for something here. We can be loud even if we are not getting things right. Nigerians know better.
Liverpool have set fire on Qatar. It is in the place of Monterrey to quench it and ignite their own. That will be on Wednesday day. Tuesday is the day for the Brazilians. Many years ago, any side from Brazil were adored.
They played samba football. They thrilled the world. Those were the days of Pele, Garrincha etc. Europeans had to do something about marking defensively to stop them from scoring easily. These days they even mark offensively too. It took more than 20 years for Brazil to win the World Cup in USA ’94(Even through penalties) after Europe developed defence mechanism in Kotanacio football. Italy perfected it. Score a goal and close the game. That became the game. Brazil couldn’t understand at the time.
They don’t dominate the game any more although they still have the World Cup record. Flamingoes will definitely entertain fans even if they would not be ‘samba’ enough. A possible clash with Liverpool in the final is the football juice people want to drink here. With all the continents here, Hassan Al Thawadi, the Director General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, told CNN’s Becky Anderson that this year’s Club World Cup is a celebration of multiculturalism in Qatar.
He is the CEO of the 2022 World Cup LLC, charged with delivering the best World Cup ever. Qatar is on the line to doing that with many facilities ready and all to be ready two years before the world comes to this oil and gas country. Journalists inspecting the facilities here are already dreaming, just like Qatar dreamed before they won the bid.
About 5,000 Liverpool fans are here. Brazilains have added to the numbers and Monterrey fans from Mexico demonstrated passion too when they beat Al Sadd. Qatar is bubbling and the World Cup, although three years away, is already in the air here.