Fifa World Cup Special Report: Can Qatar emulate Sweden, South Korea, and Russia?

A good performance on the field for the host country is as important as their success in staging a spectacular event


Rituraj Borkakoty

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Published: Sat 19 Nov 2022, 8:39 PM

The World Cup has an uncanny knack for lifting the home team to great heights.

Of course, we are talking about teams that are not among the global elites in football.

Sweden’s only appearance in the final of a World Cup came in 1958 when they hosted the tournament.

The Swedes were among the best teams in that tournament until a seventeen-year-old Brazilian named Pele put them in their place with two brilliant goals in the title decider.

When the World Cup first came to Asia, it was South Korea, who co-hosted the 2002 tournament with Japan, that turned the footballing universe upside down, beating a star-studded Italy and Spain, on their way to the semifinals.

Backed by their vociferous fans, hosts Russia punched above their weight at the last World Cup, beating Spain in the round of 16 before going down to Croatia on penalties in the quarterfinals.

We don’t yet know how Félix Sánchez, the Qatar head coach, is inspiring his players in the dressing room as the home team gets ready for the opening match of the tournament against Ecuador.

Sánchez, who famously led the Qatar team to an Asian Cup triumph in 2019, needs to look no further than Sweden, South Korea, and Russia for inspiration.

While the Netherlands could be an extremely difficult test, Qatar will fancy their chances against Ecuador and Senegal in Group A.

For Qatar, a good performance on the field is as important as their success in staging a spectacular event.

For that reason, Sánchez has kept the team together for some length of time and they will go into the opening game on the back of a four-month-long training camp.

“All of our players play in our local league so we decided that one way of strengthening the national team was to take them out of their clubs so they are ready for the national team,” Sánchez said.

“It has been a massive sacrifice. We spent a long period abroad and away from our families. That shows our commitment.”

Now it is of paramount importance that the team get off to the perfect start against Ecuador on Sunday.

“Tomorrow is a very important day for us, a historic moment. It will be an extraordinary day like no other,” the Spanish coach said.

“We have made such a huge effort in this country. We are all devoted to this World Cup. I just hope it’s a great party where we can enjoy the football on the pitch and, off it, the whole world can enjoy this experience.”

That experience will be even richer if the Qatar national team put on a show to remember on the field.


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