By Abilash Nalapat/Doha
China’s star defender Zhang Linpeng believes the innovative stadium cooling technology developed by Qatar could be a game-changer for Asian football.
Linpeng played in China’s 2-1 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying victory against Qatar at Khalifa International Stadium last week. It was the first international match to be played at the redeveloped facility – a proposed 2022 FIFA World Cup venue.
Cooling technology was deployed during the match for the benefit of players and fans. The outside temperature was 38C but the pioneering cooling system maintained the playing area at 24C throughout the game.
Talking exclusively to www.sc.qa, the Guangzhou Evergrande right-back said Qatar’s cooling technology could significantly boost Asian football.
“The cooling technology used in the game was very impressive,” said Linpeng, who has won 60 caps for his country. “In most AFC countries, top-level football matches are played during the warm months of the year, so the use of cooling technology will help AFC players to raise their standards on the pitch.”
Developed by Qatar University professor Saud Abdul-Aziz Abdul-Ghani, the cooling technology at Khalifa International Stadium has received widespread praise since being unveiled at the Emir Cup final in May. The system could now be adopted by other Asian countries who play matches in warm conditions.
Many Asian leagues play in summer, including Japan and South Korea. The Chinese Super League kicks off in March, while leagues in the Gulf region generally start in September. In addition, FIFA has a key international window in June – a challenging assignment for many Asian nations. Linpeng, who also played at Khalifa International Stadium during the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, went on to heap praise on his Qatar experience.
He added: “The training facilities in the stadium are very advanced and the pitch is of good quality. The design of the redeveloped stadium is very nice and it was exciting to play an important World Cup qualifier. I look forward to coming back again when the stadium is filled to capacity.”
Should China qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, a 33-year-old Linpeng could well get the chance he craves in front of 40,000 fans.
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