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Sunday, January 29, 2023
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Now comes the break…

ARE you ready for a World Cup break as the big-time matches come to a temporary halt? 

Perhaps for some, with their favourite teams knocked out, it may well be time for the curtains to come down.

There have been multiple views as football fans have been spoilt with countless hours of match action since the World Cup began at the end of November.

During the group stages, there were up to four games per day, and even as we reached the Round of 16 there was no let up in the action, with two games per day keeping football fans engrossed as the likes of Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe carried their sides to the quarter=finals.

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The subject of multi-national fans leaving early was put to Qatar’s head coach Felix Sanchez before his side’s second game against Senegal. But he skilfully dodged it as members of the country’s FA, and indeed FIFA, would have looked on.

THE REAL SUPPORT

I must admit that support for the hosts has been there during this tournament, but you can hardly describe it as vociferous. Many locals also seem to follow another, ‘bigger’ country or indeed an individual, such as Christiano Ronaldo.

I notice, too, that many seem to support multiple teams and players. And that is fine of course. We can rightly question some of the Qatari laws, but we also have to respect cultures and the people’s relationship with football is among those. 

Just because they don’t want to congregate en masse in bars, sing songs about how much they detest opposition players and generally put everyone on edge doesn’t mean they are not enjoying themselves.

ARE YOU BORED?

The big question: Is Qatar, hosting the world’s biggest sports tournment, bored of the football already?

It is impossible not to wonder what will become of the country after the tournament, although we already know some elements. For example, the distinctive and temporary Stadium 974, and its 974 shipping containers, will be deconstructed entirely, while the Al Janoub Stadium, the home of Al-Wakrah SC, will have its capacity halved from 40,000 to 20,000.

It’s a fact that after the World Cup is won, the buildings adorned with football superstars are returned to their normal status and the excellent Metro system removes the signs for stadiums that adorn every station.

ROARING SUCCESS?

It is highly likely that Qatar, with its tremendous flow of oil-wealth, even  launch a bid to host something else, perhaps not discounting the Olympics, in the very near future.

The cycle of preparation and transformation can then begin again, with sport again used as the tool that the country want it to be. I was told that they will point to this World Cup as a roaring success, cite the sometimes confusing attendance records and, rightly, point to the overwhelmingly positive behaviour of fans.

Truth has to be told if the actual football has captivated the nation though. What do you say? 

For many, the lack of games over the next couple of days might not be noticed. But as we approach the final stretch of the tournament with the best eight teams in tow, it’s worth the wait to see who finally picks up the prestigious World Cup.

Hey, your guess may well be as good as mine to who deserves to return homeas 2022 WorldCup supremos.

* Suresh Nair is an award-winning sports journalist who is also a qualified international coach and international referee instructor.

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