Head coach of Cameroon Rigobert Song expressed pride in the performance of his players against, who won Brazil 1-0 in the match that was held at Lusail Stadium in the third and final round of Group G competitions in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.At the post-match press conference, coach Song said that his team is leaving the competition with their heads held high."I didn't even realize that this was such a historic victory," Cameroon coach Rigobert Song said. "We are one of the African countries that played the most World Cups, and now we've beaten Brazil."Brazil had won its previous seven matches against African opponents at the World Cup.Meanwhile, "We can be proud of what we've done tonight," Cameroon goalkeeper Devis Epassy said. "We worked very hard. Unfortunately, though, we didn't qualify, and that's why are not too happy."
A late goal by skipper Vincent Aboubakar ended Cameroon's 20-year wait for a win at the World Cup as the Indomitable Lions bowed out in style by beating a much-changed Brazil 1-0 at the Lusail Stadium on Friday.With qualification already in the bag after wins over Serbia and Switzerland, Brazil still won Group G, ahead of Switzerland on goal difference, and will face Group H runners-up South Korea, who beat Portugal 2-1, in the next round.Cameroon, whose last win at the World Cup was in 2002 against Saudi Arabia, were on the back foot for most of the match but sprung to life at the death. Aboubakar powered a header past Ederson then was sent off for collecting a second yellow for taking off his jersey in celebration.The match played out in a relatively subdued atmosphere in the cavernous Lusail Stadium, the tournament's biggest venue, with Brazil's reserves eager to impress but Tite's side unable to assert their usual flair.Gabriel Martinelli was Brazil's livliest player and nearly put the five-time champions ahead in the 14th minute when he was picked out by Fred's ball over the top, but the Arsenal forward's header drew a fine reaction save from Devis Epassy.Cameroon offered nearly no attacking threat until the first half injury time, when Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu's cross was met with a powerful downward header by Bryan Mbeumo that Ederson clawed away one-handed at full stretch.Tite had seen enough and made a triple change soon after the interval, bringing on Marquinho for the injured Alex Telles, and replacing Rodrygo and Fred with Everton Ribeiro and Bruno Guimaraes.The substitutes stirred Brazil into a sudden flurry of chances with Epassy forced into action three times in as many minutes.First, Martinelli stung the Cameroon keeper's palms with a snap shot in the 56th minute.Next, Eder Militao tried his luck from the ensuing corner coaxing a fumble out of the Cameroon keeper, who recoverd to scramble the ball out to safety, before the lively Antony got in on the act, forced Epassy into a diving save to keep out his curling effort.Tite sent on Pedro in the 64th minute and Rafinha in the 79th as Brazil sought to save their perfect record in the group, but Cameroon clung on until Aboubakar arrived in the right place at the right time to seize his moment.
South Korea reached the World Cup knockout phase in dramatic style Friday, scoring in stoppage time to beat already qualified Portugal and condemn Uruguay to a painful exit.With the clock ticking down at Education City Stadium, the Koreans knew they needed one more goal to leapfrog the South Americans and Hwang Hee-chan delivered to secure a 2-1 victory.The Korean players stood in a huddle watching the final minutes of the Ghana vs Uruguay match on a mobile phone as they waited for their place in the last 16 to be confirmed.Uruguay, leading 2-0, needed one more goal to go through but fell agonisingly short despite piling on the pressure.Uruguay and South Korea ended the group phase level on four points and with an identical goal difference but crucially the Koreans had scored two more goals, which meant they finished second in Group H behind Portugal.Tottenham forward Son Heung-min, who produced a brilliant assist for the winner, said he was crying "tears of happiness"."We waited really long for this moment and we as players believed altogether we could do this," he said. "There were moments when I wasn't able to do my best and I am thankful for my team-mates that they were able to cover me in the moments I wasn't able to fulfil my duties. I'm very proud of them."Earlier Uruguay crashed out of the World Cup despite beating Ghana 2-0 after South Korea scored a late winner in the other Group H match to leapfrog the South American side.Giorgian De Arrascaeta netted twice in quick succession in the first half, with 35-year-old Luis Suarez having a hand in both goals.However, Suarez finished the match on the bench in tears as the news came in of South Korea's last-gasp victory over Portugal, which meant the Asian side had moved above the Uruguayans into second place in Group H on goals scored."We had several chances to score the third goal (which would have put Uruguay through)," said Uruguay coach Diego Alonso."For 80 minutes we were qualified and we had lots of chances, but in the end it wasn't possible."Also Friday, Switzerland booked a last-16 showdown with Portugal at the World Cup after a 3-2 win over Serbia in a bad-tempered match secured them second place in Group G.Xherdan Shaqiri's deflected strike put the Swiss ahead but Aleksandar Mitrovic's fine header brought Serbia level at Stadium 974.Dusan Vlahovic then gave Serbia the lead only for Breel Embolo to equalise before half-time.Remo Freuler's brilliant goal early in the second half sent the Swiss through to the knockout rounds for the fourth time in five World Cups.In an inconsequential match, Vincent Aboubakar headed in a stoppage-time winner and was then sent off as Cameroon claimed a memorable 1-0 victory over favourites Brazil at the World Cup Friday, but still failed to go through to the last 16.Aboubakar, who had come in to captain Rigobert Song's team, connected with a cross from substitute Jerome Ngom Mbekeli to break the deadlock in the 92nd minute at Doha's Lusail Stadium.
The FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar has ignited creativity among football fans and volunteers, either to showcase their nation’s heritage, make new friends, or simply express their excitement and enthusiasm for the sport.Every match since the start of the tournament on November 20 at Al Bayt Stadium witnessed a large number of supporters cheering for their teams by wearing colourful dresses or traditional costumes and painting their faces with flags and football-inspired designs.It is learnt that such a trend fascinated many people who want to join the frenzy in the metro, stadiums, in some of the most visited sites in Doha such as Souq Waqif, Katara – the Cultural Village, Msheireb Downtown Doha or while heading to watch the matches at the venues or fan zones.Japanese national Tomi shows his support for his team by wearing a traditional dress and greets incoming fans by singing and playing his guitar while taking pictures and videos with them at the stadium’s entrance.“I am really enjoying this World Cup, people say Japanese anime is great and Japanese people have kindness... and (they) pick the garbage so they like Japanese,” he said.Tomi is just one of the many friendly supporters who not only attracts and entertains the crowd but also puts a spotlight on this country’s heritage.This was also underlined by the increasing demand and popularity of wearing traditional Arab dress such as thobe, ghutra, and igal – designed with the flags of participating nations and sold at various outlets in the city.Javier, a Spanish supporter, said that he finds these kinds of attire unique, attractive, and impressive in a tournament like the World Cup, compared to the usual jerseys and sports apparel.“Such ingenuity helps promote a nation or a region’s culture, which sparks curiosity among visitors and those who watch it on social media pages, so it may eventually entice many people to explore the destination,” he added.This was echoed by a Polish supporter, Arthur, saying these fashion trends also presented creative ways to promote the tournament and for fans to familiarise themselves with the culture of the host nation, as well as the region.“I hope I get to see more of these in the coming days, weeks until December 18, the finals, and hopefully even in the next World Cup because it gives us plenty of artistic ideas,” he pointed out.Volunteers, especially those who guide metro passengers at various stations, found a way to do their jobs in an entertaining way. Apart from ‘metro man’ Abubakr Abbass’ “Metro? This way. Metro? This way,” several other volunteers have been welcoming fans of different teams by dancing and singing their usual phrases of chants like as ‘Ole Ola’ or mentioning their nationality and adding the word “This Way” such “Espanol, This Way”.
A member of the national football squad of Tunisia has showered praise on the training facilities offered during their World Cup campaign in Qatar highlighting it as ‘perfect and superb’.In his first interaction with the media after the exit of his team from the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Hannibal Mejbri, one of the youngest members of the squad told Gulf Times: “We had superb facilities for practice all through our stay here. We had everything needed next to us and never had any issue with the any facilities. It was perfect and everything about the tournament is superb. We had a great experience and I think it is one of the best world Cups ever. ”The young Tunisian also noted that Qatar is a great place to be in. He explained: “I came here for the Arab Cup last year. We were in the finals. I like the country and the entire atmosphere. The facilities in Qatar are very good and the people are really nice. Qatar is a very nice country and the World Cup has shown that the country is capable of hosting any mega event.”Mejbri, aged 19 who played the first game of World Cup said that it was a great feeling to play for his country. “This is my first World Cup and I hope to play many more editions of the tournament in the coming years. I have played over 20 games for the country so far and it is a wonderful feeling to be part of the national team and represent the country at the highest level of football,” said, Mejbri.He also noted that it was great to be part of a team that defeated the much celebrated French team. “ It was great to be part of the team that defeated France and we are thrilled about it. It was a good win. But at the same time, it is disappointing that we could not qualify for the second round of the tournament and I am very sad about it. However, as a team we have been able to play high quality football and hopefully we will be able to perform better in the next editions of World Cup and other matches,” continued, Mejbri.He also highlighted that Asian and African teams have done very well in this tournament. “ This World Cup is very different and special as several leading teams are out of the tournament in the first round itself. There are more representations from Africa and Asia in the next round. This is what the game of football is all about. I am very happy for Morocco qualifying for the next round. This will provide great boost for several countries in both the continents especially in the Arab World,” added, Mejbri.
Qatar has launched a new Hayya Card option which will allow non-ticketed fans to enter the country following the conclusion of the FIFA World Cup group stage.The ‘Early December’ feature, which allows fans without tickets to apply for a Hayya Card, came into force yesterday (Dec 2) midnight.Fans will need to show proof of accommodation and pay an entry fee of QR500 to obtain the Hayya Card and enter Qatar, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) announced in a statement yesterday. Children under 12 will not be charged.The Hayya Card is mandatory for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 fans. It provides access to stadiums with a valid match ticket, entry to the FIFA Fan Festival and free public transport.Khalid Ali al-Mawlawi, deputy director general, Marketing, Communications & Event Experience, SC, said: “It’s been a wonderful tournament so far. We’ve welcomed hundreds of thousands of fans from across the world for an unrivalled festival of football and exchange of cultures.“As we move into the knockout stages of the tournament, we’re delighted to offer the chance for more fans to visit Qatar and experience the special atmosphere of the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East and Arab world.”Fans have plenty of entertainment options away from the stadiums in Qatar, including the FIFA Fan Festival at Al Bidda Park, the 6km Corniche Activation and a vast array of live music, cultural experiences and fan zones.Fans who wish to apply for the Early December Hayya Card feature should note the following: Ticket holders for matches from today (Saturday, Dec 3) will not be required to pay QR500. Fans who pay the QR500 entry fee and purchase FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 tickets later will not be eligible for a refund.After paying the QR500 entry fee and confirming their accommodation, fans will receive an entry permit to Qatar via email. Fans are advised not to travel until completing the Hayya Card application process as they will not be allowed to board a flight or enter through the Abu Samra land border without the entry permit. Hayya Card holders are able to stay in Qatar until January 23, 2023.
Fans of Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Tunisia are upbeat even though their national teams did not make it to the second round of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Some of the fans have decided to stay in Doha while enjoying and exploring the country while some left Doha on Thursday. Some fans are planning to go home in the coming days.“I am glad that our team performed well while making efforts to enter the second stage. Unfortunately, this is not our turn,” Mexican fan Jorge told Gulf Times. He left for Mexico Friday.Mexico and Saudi Arabia are among the countries that recorded high demand for the World Cup while Tunisia's match in the Education City Stadium on Wednesday witnessed thousands of fans cheering in red. Tunisia defeated France 1-0 but the victory wasn’t enough to help the team enter the second round. Mexico beat Saudi Arabia at Lusail Stadium on Wednesday but both countries failed to make it to the last 16.“We supported and cheered for our team and we will continue to do it. We are glad and proud that Saudi Arabia shined in the World Cup by defeating Argentina. We got enough reason to cheer up,” said one of the Saudi fans.Another fan Mohamed al-Ghanim said that they would have stayed some more days in Doha if Saudi Arabia made it to the second round.“Mexican fans believe that the team will bounce back soon. The next World Cup is coming home and our team will leave its mark through stunning performance,” said another Mexican fan Armando Castro.Some of the Mexican and Tunisian fans have decided to visit neighbouring countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Oman and Bahrain.
Morocco powered into the last 16 of the World Cup for the first time in 36 years on Thursday with a 2-1 victory over eliminated Canada.Goals from Hakim Ziyech and Youssef En-Nesyri ensured the North Africans finished top of Group F ahead of 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia.Morocco, who last reached the knockout stages of the World Cup in 1986, will face the runners-up from Group E in the last 16, with the identity of their opponents decided later Thursday.“It wasn’t easy, but when you have an opportunity to make history, you remember it,” Morocco coach Walid Regragui said.“We’ve made lots of people happy this evening, but let’s not stop here.“Before the tournament we set an objective - we said we wanted to give everything we’ve got and get out of the group stages. We can tick that box now.”Canada’s defeat capped a disappointing World Cup for the CONCACAF side, who depart after losing all three of their group games on their long-awaited return to the finals. But coach John Herdman said his team would leave Qatar with heads held high.“It’s been the first time in a long time we’ve been here. We’d liked to have been longer but we’ve enjoyed the ride,” Herdman said.“Our players turned up here to compete. We’ve been fearless in each of the three games and in each of the three games we’ve had something to celebrate.“This isn’t Canada walking away with our heads down - we leave with our heads held high.”Morocco put themselves firmly on course for the second round after upsetting Belgium 2-0 on Sunday, a result that left them needing only a point against Canada on Thursday to be sure of advancing.Achieving that objective never looked in doubt after the Moroccans grabbed the lead after only four minutes in front of 43,102 fans at the Al Thumama Stadium.Canada captain and goalkeeper Milan Borjan raced off his line to clear an underhit backpass from Steven Vitoria but could only watch in horror as the ball fell to Morocco’s Ziyech.The Chelsea star seized the opportunity ruthlessly, coolly lifting a finish over the stranded Borjan into the empty net for 1-0.That early setback winded Canada, who struggled to gain any sort of a foothold against a rampant Morocco who were soon 2-0 up.Right-back Achraf Hakimi’s long ball caught the Canadian defence napping and En-Nesyri darted in behind before smashing home a finish at the near post to beat Borjan.Canada pulled a goal back on a rare foray forward five minutes from half-time when defender Sam Adekugbe skipped clear down the left and rifled in a low cross.Defender Nayef Aguerd stuck a leg out and the ball deflected into the net past Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou to make it 2-1.Morocco thought they had restored their two-goal cushion in first-half stoppage time when En-Nesyri lashed home eight yards out only for the effort to be deemed offside.Canada started the second half brightly, with Alphonso Davies jabbing a shot just wide after a promising attack.But Morocco dropped deeper and Canada lacked the inventiveness to seriously threaten.Their best chance of drawing level came from a set-piece on 71 minutes, when substitute Atiba Hutchinson’s header from a corner crashed off the underside of the crossbar and bounced off the goal-line.Full-back Alistair Johnston failed to control the rebound and Morocco’s lead remained intact.Canada captain Borjan almost got caught out again in another risky advance in injury time, but Davies was on hand to snuff out the danger before Morocco’s raucous fans erupted in celebration at the whistle.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos on Thursday said captain Cristiano Ronaldo is not a certainty against Asian giants South Korea when the two teams clash in the last match of the group stage at Education City Stadium today.Group H points leaders Portugal are under no pressure to include Ronaldo, 37, who missed training on Wednesday. Portugal, the 2016 Euro champions, have six points after wins over Ghana and Uruguay.“I think it is 50-50 if he plays the match or not. We will see how it goes,” Santos said at a news conference yesterday. “It will depend on if and how he feels during practice. If we see he is in good condition, maybe he will play the match. There is a plan for if he is not available,” Santos added.Ronaldo spent the day recovering at a gym where the backroom staff is trying to get the Portugal captain ready for the Round of 16 at the 32-team tournament. Later in the evening, Ronaldo was in seen doing light training.The Portugal camp yesterday also confirmed that Nuno Mendes’ Qatar campaign has ended following a thigh injury the PSG star sustained in their match against Uruguay.When asked about Mendes’ injury, Santos said yesterday: “He will continue to stay in Qatar, because the player wanted it. PSG allowed him to stay here with us at the World Cup. This reflects the spirit of the team and how united we all are.”Raphael Guerreiro, the Borussia Dortmund full-back, is likely to replace Mendes as he did against Uruguay.With Otavio and Danilo also out injured, Santos said he expects the players in the reserves to step up against South Korea.“I have complete confidence in all my players,” Santos said. “I’m already missing three players, let’s see about others. Playing every four days is tough, players get tired and are experiencing fatigue.“Fatigue leads to stress and stress leads to injuries.“We want to win and finish top in our group because this will gives us an extra day to recover the players in the best way possible,” Santos said.South Africa’s Portuguese coach Paulo Bento yesterday said a dedicated performance his players against Portugal.“We played our first two matches with a lot of passion. We will have to show that passion again (against Portugal).“But we’ll also need a bit of luck. If we have all that, we can create a miracle,” Bento said yesterday. Bento candidly admitted that Portugal – who are ranked 9 in the world – are a force even without Ronaldo or the absent injured players. South Korea are aiming to qualify for the Round of 16 for the third time after 2002 and 2010.“He (Portugal coach) can play in different ways, with different formations, he can make three or four changes in his team and they will stay at the same level,” Bento explained. “In addition, the context is favourable for them because they are already qualified and a draw will ensure first place,” Bento added.Bento, who played for Portugal 35 times, will not be available for his side following a red card he picked up in the match against Ghana. Bento said: “They (the assistants) make most of the decisions, they suggest them to me. It’s not going to be a problem. This time they will be on their own but it won’t change much. The players are also in line with the technical staff.”South Korean defender Kim Young-gwon said facing Portugal would be a tough challenge. He said: “They have all these talented players.”He added: “To contain them we’ll have to play as a team, as one unit. We don’t have anywhere else to go than forward.”
Tunisians celebrated a historic but bittersweet World Cup victory over France on Wednesday as they defeated their former colonial power but still crashed out of a tournament marked by a remarkable string of Arab wins over soccer powerhouses.Car horns sounded in Tunis after the final whistle in Tunisia's 1-0 win as fans savoured the moment even though their side did not make it through to the last 16 of the Qatar World Cup, the first in an Arab country.The victory marked another proud World Cup moment for Arab fans still celebrating Saudi Arabia's historic win over Argentina and Morocco's defeat of Belgium - victories applauded across the Arab region despite its deep political divisions."The victory over France was wonderful and had a special taste...Arab football regained its dignity from the former colonialists countries," said Narredine ben Salem, sitting in the Tunis cafe where he watched the match.As the game ended, dozens of people ran into the central Habib Bourguiba Avenue, often the site of political protests, waving flags and cheering.In the official fan zone in Tunis, about 2,000 fans had been cheering through the game, many in Tunisian national soccer shirts or with their faces painted.When France appeared to have equallised with seconds remaining they fell eerily quiet, only to erupt into a huge cheer and dancing when the goal was disallowed for offside."It was a beautiful victory and a convincing performance, but in the end it was very harsh to be knocked out...I am very sad...We hope that Saudi Arabia will make us happy," Ben Salem said, reflecting hopes that Saudi Arabia would make to the next round, but that did not happen as the Saudis lost 1-2 to Mexico.In Qatar, Saudi fans celebrated Tunisia's win, another show of the pan-Arab unity that has been a feature of the tournament, said Abeer Awaisha, a Tunisian fan in Qatar."We didn’t expect (Tunisia to defeat France) because France is a strong team but we were better and we played very well," Awaisha said.Many Tunisians watched Saudi Arabia's decisive match against Mexico later on Wednesday.Speaking ahead of the Tunisian match, Saudi fan Abdullah al-Rasaei said: "This is a World Cup for all Arabs, not just Qatar, and as you can see there is a big Arab celebration and hopefully it will be crowned with an Arab success."While he was expecting a strong performance from Morocco, he said Saudi Arabia "honestly surprised us in the match with Argentina, it raised the bar high".Morocco supporter Khalim Farouki, 25, in Doha, said: "There is a big solidarity between us, Morocco, Tunisia, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. We support each other."Some Arab leaders attending the World Cup have echoed the sense of pan-Arab solidarity during matches. (Reuters)
Group Stage match versus Costa Rica generates highest audience of the year in JapanLa Albiceleste’s ’s encounter with Mexico draws audience share of 81.3% in ArgentinaEngland v USA most watched men's football match on US television everThe 2022 World Cup in Qatar is continuing to engage TV audiences around the world with record-breaking numbers across multiple markets, FIFA has said.In Asia, the group game between Japan and Costa Rica on November 27 drew an average audience of 36.37mn viewers. This surpassed the audience of their incredible comeback against Germany in their tournament opener by over 10mn and was 74% higher than the average domestic group stage audience during the FIFA World Cup in 2018.On November 24 in Korea Republic, 11.14mn people watched their tournament opener against Uruguay. The broadcast saw a 97% increase in TV audience compared to the average for group stage matches at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil in 2014; 18% higher than at Russia 2018.Fans in Europe have also been tuning in for the second round of group stage matches in great numbersOn November 28, 65% of people watching TV in Spain saw La Roja take on Germany in one of the most anticipated games of the tournament so far. 11.9mn was the combined audience across coverage on La1 and Gol Mundial, exceeding the audience of any group stage game for the FIFA World Cup in 2018.Incredibly, over three quarters (76.6%) of all people watching TV in the Netherlands witnessed Cody Gakpo’s wonder strike in their 1-1 draw with Ecuador. This was the highest TV audience in the country in 2022 and greater than any match during the FIFA World Cup in 2018.In France, Les Bleus’ encounter with Denmark was broadcast on TF1. Averaging an audience of 11.6mn viewers, the programme audience peaked in the closing minutes of the match as 14.56mn watched Kylian Mbappe score a late winner. This was the highest peak of the tournament in France so far, beating 14mn viewers during France's opening match against Australia.Portugal’s match with Uruguay on November 28 was the highest TV audience in Portugal for a FIFA World Cup match ever. In total, 5.35mn viewers in Portugal watched at least one minute of coverage as the team progressed to the knockout stages. The coverage held an audience share of 69.5% as A Selecao got their second win in as many games at the tournament. Over 80% of the Portuguese TV landscape has now watched at least one minute of the tournament’s coverage.In addition, interest in the beautiful game in the United States continues to grow with new records continuously being broken.The English-language coverage of USA’s encounter with England on November 25 was the most watched men's football match on US television ever, with a peak audience of 19.65mn viewers on Fox. NBC-Universal's Spanish-language coverage of the match on Telemundo was the second-most watched FIFA World Cup Group Stage match featuring a United States team in Spanish-language history.The following day, as Argentina and Mexico met in a crucial Group C tie, the Telemundo broadcast in the US was the most-watched FIFA World Cup Group Stage match in Spanish-language history in the country, and the second largest of any stage, ever.Meanwhile, in Mexico, coverage of the same match delivered a national audience of 20.96mn viewers. The combined share across three channels broadcasting the game was 67.9%. This was higher than the top combined rating in the territory for any match of the FIFA World Cup in 2018.In addition, the average audience in Canada for their make-or-break tie with Croatia was 4.33mn, with a share of 68.4%. This was 17% higher than Canada's opening match and 12% higher than the top combined audience in the territory for the 2018 tournament.Passion for the game in South America knows no bounds with fans as engaged as ever.In Argentina, the average audience for the two-time winners of the FIFA World Cup in their pivotal match with Mexico was 8.48mn; delivering an amazing audience share of 81.3%. The programme audience was the highest of the tournament so far in the country and 5% higher than both their first match against Saudi Arabia, and the average audience for their group stage matches during the FIFA World Cup 2018.
Japan will try to pull the plug on Spain’s “computer game” football in their World Cup showdown today, with the Blue Samurai eyeing their second major upset of the tournament. Japan beat Germany in their opening game of Group E and they will book their place in the last 16 if they can add Spain to their collection of scalps.Victory will not come easily for a Japan team who came under pressure for long periods against Germany and stumbled to a stodgy 1-0 loss to Costa Rica in their second game. Coach Hajime Moriyasu is wary of Spain’s threat but backed his players to spring another surprise.“Tomorrow is going to be a high-pressure game for our players but they must believe in themselves and in their teammates,” he said yesterday. “It’s always an important match – that never changes. If the players can play to 100 percent of their potential, then the result will follow.”Moriyasu called Spain a “tactically strong” team who have “dynamism as well as technique”. Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda said Spanish players are “good at being in the right place at the right time” and warned his teammates to have their wits about them.“People say Spain play like a computer game because they play in such a consistent way – they have a style and a plan of attack that they stick to,” he said. “I don’t think they’re going to change that depending on the opponent. They’ll stick to what they do.”Both teams are likely to feature several of the players who met in the semi-finals of last year’s pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics. Spain won that game 1-0 after extra time but Moriyasu believes his players are ready to take revenge in Qatar.“It was very disappointing and both myself and the players are still frustrated about it,” he said. “I think the players have developed since then and I hope we can get a result to celebrate this time.”Japan are likely to be without influential midfielder Wataru Endo through injury, although Moriyasu said right-back Hiroki Sakai should be fit again after missing the Costa Rica game. A win over Spain would give Japan their biggest World Cup result ever but Moriyasu insisted he was not feeling the pressure.“The question is whether we can play our best or not – I hope we don’t have any regrets in that regard,” he said. “We always aim to win and that will be the same again tomorrow.”
Marcus Rashford’s eye-catching performance in England’s 3-0 win against Wales shows he “belongs” on the World Cup stage, according to Manchester United and international teammate Harry Maguire.The 25-year-old forward played a starring role as Gareth Southgate’s men wrapped up their Group B campaign in style on Tuesday to progress to the last 16, where they will play Senegal.Rashford opened the scoring with a brilliant free-kick and was instrumental in the second goal, scored by Phil Foden, before delivering the knockout blow in the 68th minute after a rampaging run down the right.Defender Maguire said he was delighted to see his clubmate back in top form after a tough year in which he slipped out of the international picture due to fitness issues and a loss of form.“I’m really pleased for Marcus,” said Maguire.“Over the last year or so obviously he’s been out of the England team and England set-up. I think he’s really found his form again this season for Manchester United. He’s a massive player for our club.”Rashford had not kicked a ball for England since missing a penalty in the Euro 2020 final shootout against Italy last year when he arrived in Qatar.He endured a difficult season for United following the defeat at Wembley, making just 13 Premier League starts in 2021/22 and scoring just four times in the top flight. But he forced his way back into Gareth Southgate’s squad after impressing for United this season.And Rashford has made up for lost time in Qatar, scoring a goal as a substitute in England’s opening 6-2 win against Iran before his two strikes on Tuesday.“Throughout a long career you’re always going to have ups and you’re always going to have downs and it’s all about how you bounce back from when you’re out of form and keep working hard and he’s done that tirelessly,” said Maguire.“I can’t speak highly enough of Marcus. He’s a wonderful man and he’s a great player. I think tonight again he’s shown that he belongs on this stage.”Maguire, who is struggling to command a first-team spot at Old Trafford, said he had tried to help Rashford rebuild his confidence.“I speak to Marcus a lot,” said the United club captain. “I try to give him as much belief as I can. Marcus is a fantastic player who has had a great career up until now.“I think the last year or so has been difficult for him. All good players rise to the top again and I think if he keeps his head down, he keeps working hard, first and foremost for his club, he’ll get opportunities for his country.“When he gets that opportunity, with the confidence that he has, he’s a threat to anyone.”Luke Shaw, who is also a teammate of Rashford’s at United, praised his man-of-the-match performance against Wales.“The talent he’s got, he can be unplayable and I think tonight he showed that,” said the left-back.“He needs to deliver that every single game he plays because he’s got the quality that can make the difference. He’s an unbelievable player.”“He took his chance tonight,” he added. “It was his time to start.”Rashford was vilified by a section of England’s fanbase after missing a spot-kick in last year’s penalty shoot-out defeat against Italy in the European Championship final.The Manchester United star, one of three England players who failed to score their penalty in that agonising shoot-out, received racist abuse on social media in the immediate aftermath of the Wembley loss.Rashford’s form for United dipped dramatically last season and for a while it seemed he could be sold.But United manager Erik ten Hag has revitalised Rashford since taking charge in the close-season and his club form had been impressive heading into the World Cup.“It’s been a challenge for him. I went and saw him in the summer. I had a long chat with him,” Southgate said.“He had some clear ideas on things that he needed to think about. You can see with his club there has been happiness in his performances.“You can see that in training with us. We have got a completely different player than we had at the Euros last year. It’s great for him and great for us.”
Apart from a well-organised FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, football fans from various countries have lauded the high-level of safety and security in the host nation and the people’s warm and friendly reception. Steven and Mica from Jamaica, who were enjoying their visit at the Msheireb Downtown Doha Wednesday, cited what they described as “an extremely safe environment in the country.” “We have so much respect with the country, it’s way far from what is shown and published by critics in the media. It is very safe and we are enjoying it here very much,” Steven stressed. Alex R from Argentina echoed the same view, citing the extraordinary safety that is in place in the stadiums and across the country. “Very nice quality of tournament, very safe place, no criminality, well organised, and excellent transportation,” Alex said. However, he suggested there should be more restaurants to reduce the rush and transportation beyond 3am, so as to make it easy for fans to return to their hotels and homes. “But otherwise, the World Cup is well organised, Qataris are very nice people, sophisticated, warm, welcoming and willing to spare time to help and assist anybody,” added Alex who also attended the last few World Cups. Qatar has been ranked the safest country in the world by Numbeo from 2020 to 2022 in terms of crime and general safety, while Doha ranks second as the safest city in Numbeo’s Crime Index by City in 2022. Mexican supporter Carlos Domingez, who also supports the USA team since he lives in Atlanta, said "it's been an amazing experience we feel so safe you can walk in the middle of the night and everybody is so friendly." He said in this World Cup, he experienced how politics, race, religion and beliefs have been set aside after Iranian supporters in Qatar helped and brought him home safely the other night after watching the matches. Matthew, a South African who lives in Doha, urged football fans from various countries to visit Qatar, saying "you wouldn't be disappointed." Matthew was supposed to take a vacation back home but decided to extend his stay to experience the World Cup and what it has to offer. Matthew said he witnessed the 2010 World Cup in his home country, and is now experiencing the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. "There are so many things that you can do (here) and there are so many things free as well, it is so warm, it is so welcoming, and all the songs are amazing," he added.
A senior Indian football coach has lauded the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, describing it as one of the best and most beautiful editions of the tournament so far in its history. He also feels that Spain stands a good chance to win this year’s World Cup with lot of promising young players.“First of all, the compact nature of the tournament has been so convenient for everyone who wants to watch more than one match a day. Moreover, the transportation part has been a huge success. The organising committee truly deserves 100% credit for such fantastic arrangements. It is simply incomparable and amazing," said Bino George, who was the head coach of the Kerala team that won the Santhosh Trophy tournament this year.Santhosh Trophy is the most coveted interstate football tournament in India.George, an Indian professional manager and former footballer, is currently the East Bengal assistant coach to Stephen Constantine for the Indian Super League.“I understand that all the teams are very happy about their practice facilities and other logistics aspects. All the visitors find no problems in reaching their destinations. Overall everything is smooth and seamless,” noted George.The Indian footballer said that the first round of games has been very exciting and electrifying so far. “I could watch several of the matches. All the games have been excellent which also saw some upsets. Some of the Asian teams have been very promising. This is a good sign for Asian football and it can be reflected in the coming games in the Asian continent including the next year’s Asian Football championship,” he said.George is of the opinion that Spain, Brazil and France have better chances to win the tournament. “ I fancy Spain to win the tournament. They are a young talented team and have already shown their potential in the group stage matches. Brazil on the other side is equally good but they did not have any strong opponents in the group stage and so they need to have greater performance in the knockout stages. France is also equally impressive but they are missing some key players,” he pointed out.As for the Indian football scenario, George noted that football is becoming more and more popular in his country but still a lot has to be done to make it world-class. “We need more infrastructure at local and state levels to train the players. We have a lot of young talents but they need to be trained properly with all the necessary skills to compete at the international level. Hopefully, the situation will become better in the coming years, “he added.
Dismal Denmark crash out of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022Argentina, Poland, Australia enter last 16Heartbreak for MexicoArgentina, Poland and Australia qualified for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 in contrasting fashion Wednesday. While Argentina and Australia won their last group matches, Poland lost but still made it to the knockouts due to a better goal difference than Mexico.On the other hand, it was heartbreak for Mexico as they bowed out despite winning their match against Saudi Arabia. The Saudis, who had earlier recorded a famous victory against Argentina, put up a fight against Mexico but fell short in the end. It was still a tremendous performance, making the Arab world proud of their heroics.Earlier, Tunisia stunned France to register yet another famous Arab performance in the World Cup, while Denmark - a pre-tournament dark horse - ended their campaign with barely a whimper after losing to Australia in their last match. France's loss did not matter as they had already qualified for the last 16.Argentina will play against Australia (December 3, 10pm) in the Round of 16, while France will take on Poland (December 4, 6pm).MESSI MISS DOESN'T MATTERUndeterred by a missed Lionel Messi penalty, Argentina qualified for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 in emphatic fashion when they outclassed Poland 2-0 in a Group C clash at Stadium 974 Wednesday.Alexis Mac Allister (46) and Julian Alvarez (67) scored for the South Americans after Messi's spot kick was brilliantly saved by Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny in the 39th minute.Argentina topped the group with six points, while Poland also made it to the knockouts despite the loss as they edged past Mexico on goal difference.MEXICO BEAT VALIANT SAUDI, BUT MISS OUT ON LAST 16Mexico beat Saudi Arabia 2-1 in World Cup Group C Wednesday but fell agonisingly short of reaching the last 16 on goal difference.Quickfire second-half strikes from Henry Martin and Luis Chavez had put Mexico on course to reach the knockout stages and Uriel Antuna also put the ball in the net but the effort was disallowed for offside.The Group C match was held at Lusail Stadium.Saudi Arabia pulled a goal back in stoppage time through Salem al-Dawsari.TUNISIA REGISTER FAMOUS WINWahbi Khazri scored the only goal of the game as Tunisia claimed a famous 1-0 win over holders France in a Group D match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Wednesday, but it was not enough for them to reach the last 16.France coach Didier Deschamps, whose team were already through to the knockout stage, made nine changes but they were a shadow of their usual selves and Khazri punished them in the 58th minute at Education City Stadium.It looked as though Tunisia would be denied their win in the final moments but an Antoine Griezmann goal in stoppage time was disallowed following a VAR review.This was Tunisia's first win against European opposition at a World Cup and just their third ever in 18 matches at the tournament.However, Australia's 1-0 win in the other Group D match against Denmark denied them progress to the last 16 for the first time.AUSTRALIA SEND DENMARK HOMEAustralia coach Graham Arnold hailed the Socceroos' "remarkable" achievement after they reached the last 16 of the World Cup for only the second time with a 1-0 win over Denmark in a Group C tie Wednesday.Winger Mathew Leckie scored the winner on the hour with a smart run and finish to extinguish Denmark's Qatar hopes at the group stage.Australia, who made the knockout rounds in 2006 when they had Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill and Mark Viduka in their ranks, have now won back-to-back World Cup games for the first time.They progressed to the knockouts behind holders France in Group D. Tunisia was third in the group while Denmark finished last.
Mexico beat Saudi Arabia 2-1 in World Cup Group C on Wednesday but fell agonisingly short of reaching the last 16 on goal difference.Quickfire second-half strikes from Henry Martin and Luis Chavez had put Mexico on course to reach the knockout stages and Uriel Antuna also put the ball in the net but the effort was disallowed for offside.Saudi Arabia pulled a goal back in stoppage time through Salem Al-Dawsari.Mexico finished with four points, level with Poland who lost 2-0 to group winners Argentina and had a superior goal difference of one to advance.That ended Mexico's run of seven straight last-16 qualifications stretching back to 1994.Saudi Arabia were eliminated after finishing bottom of the standings on three points.
Argentina advanced to the knockout stages of the World Cup with a 2-0 victory over Poland in their final Group C match on Wednesday even though skipper Lionel Messi saw a first half penalty saved at Stadium 974.Argentina's victory moved the South American side to the top of the group and they will face Australia in the last-16 while second-placed Poland take on reigning champions France.Argentina took the lead just one minute into the second half when Alexis Mac Allister got on the end of Nahuel Molina's cross and, despite making weak contact, he saw his shot creep over the line with Polish keeper Wojciech Szczesny beaten.The goal was just reward for Argentina who had dominated possession while Poland barely managed to get out of their own half.The second goal was the result of some patient buildup where Argentina knocked the ball around before Enzo Fernandez unlocked the defence with a through-ball for Julian Alvarez, who found space in the box and smashed it into the top corner.Earlier, Poland were up in arms when Argentina were awarded a controversial penalty after a VAR check for a foul on Messi when Szczesny's glove brushed his face as the Paris St Germain forward rose up for a header at the far post.But Szczesny was up to the task and despite the thousands of Argentina fans raising the decibel levels inside the arena, he kept his composure and guessed correctly, diving to his left and using one hand to swat aside Messi's effort from the spot.Szczesny had been kept busy the entire half with the Poland defence breached time and again but the Juventus keeper stood firm to deny the Argentines who grew more confident with every attack.He first denied Alvarez when the Manchester City forward broke through the offside trap before he tipped Angel Di Maria's cross over the bar when his Juve team mate attempted to score directly from a corner kick.But he could do nothing but scramble when Mac Allister took his shot even before Poland could settle down after the restart while Alvarez's shot for the second goal was too good for any keeper.
There are many firsts associated with the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. It is the first edition of the tournament to be held in the Middle East and Arab world, the first compact tournament in modern history and the first to have an official soundtrack. It is also the first FIFA World Cup to have a digital mascot. La’eeb – an Arabic word meaning super-skilled player – was unveiled to the world during the final draw in April. La’eeb hails from the ‘mascot-verse’ – a world where all previous tournament mascots live – and is known for his youthful spirit; spreading joy and confidence wherever he goes. La’eeb, who is adventurous, fun and curious, has attended every previous FIFA World Cup tournament and contributed to some of the most famous moments in football history. The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) spoke to Ahmed al-Baker, Fahad al-Kuwari and Mohamed al-Ibrahim, who worked on La’eeb’s launch video, to find out more about the challenge of creating content that appeals to football fans across the globe.The visionQataris al-Baker, al-Kuwari and al-Ibrahim were excited to develop the launch video for the mascot when they received the initial concept about his character. “It was very exciting to be involved in this project and our objective was to deliver something different to every previous mascot launch,” said al-Baker, who has been working as a director and producer for 12 years. “One of our main aims was to present him in a humourous and interactive way while ensuring he appeals to as many people as possible – not just football fans.”Al-Kuwari added: “I am not a huge football lover and during the animation process, I looked at La’eeb from an outsider’s point of view. Part of the challenge was creating content that non-football fans would enjoy – and I think La’eeb ended up being liked by everyone due to his uplifting personality.”Writer and director al-Ibrahim worked as a senior content developer on the animation. He said: “I helped to build on his backstory – not only his origins but information about his home, the 'mascot-verse'. We had to think about his personality traits and motivations – it was a really interesting project.”The creative team also wanted La’eeb to resonate with people long after the tournament – which will conclude with the final at Lusail Stadium on December 18. “It’s very important to us that La’eeb stays in the minds of football fans after the World Cup,” said al-Kuwari, a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar. “This is one of the reasons we built the mascot-verse, which allows La’eeb to visit mascots from previous tournaments.”A mascot with a voiceLa’eeb’s uniqueness extends to his voice. “When we presented our work, FIFA really liked the scripts we had developed for La’eeb,” said al-Kuwari, who holds a Master’s in film and screen studies from Goldsmiths, University of London. The next challenge was deciding La’eeb’s accent and ensuring he would resonate with people in Qatar, the region and beyond. “At first, we wanted La’eeb to speak Arabic with a Qatari accent – however we also wanted him to reach international audiences. In the end, we opted for English – but spoken by a local person – to show La’eeb is Qatari and can connect with people anywhere,” said al-Baker. Al-Kuwari added: “As content creators, it is our responsibility to create narratives true to our culture and heritage, and present them to international audiences.”New technologyLa’eeb’s virtual nature meant the creative options were endless and opened the door to utilise the latest digital technology. “From holograms, digital screens and new media, there was plenty of room for creativity and we were able to experiment with different technologies,” said al-Baker. Al-Kuwari added: “Our priority was for La’eeb to entertain fans. We wanted to create uplifting and interactive content, so we approached this in the same way we look at cinematic scripts. Getting to know La’eeb is a journey everyone will go through during the tournament. The audience learned about his skills and personality during the draw – and there will be plenty more to find out during the World Cup.”The power of storytellingFor al-Ibrahim, seeing his creation come to life on a scale of such magnitude represents a dream-turned-reality. He said: “Seeing La’eeb everywhere is testament to the power of storytelling. He is a character that will be remembered by future generations and exposed to billions of people during the World Cup. “This is something every content creator dreams of – and knowing I’ve contributed is something I’ll always be proud of.”
The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 boasts the largest media coverage in World Cup history with thousands of media professionals and journalists covering the tournament events.A CNBC-Arabiya TV channel report said Qatar does not interfere in media content, and that it has facilitated the media outlets in Qatar to report the World Cup atmosphere to the world.The 'Eye on Qatar' programme's report drove home that the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 had the largest international media coverage in the tournament history.It added that all technical and logistical support was provided to journalists from different countries to facilitate the performance of their mission inside and outside the stadiums.It also noted the tournament's growing interest in digital platforms, while keeping the traditional role of television in broadcasting, analysing matches and airing fan reactions.Another report by the same channel said that volunteers at airports, metro stations and places of residence of World Cup teams, stadiums and fan zones, are always smiling, welcoming and enthusiastic about providing assistance to the World Cup fans, a scene that is repeated in all areas of the events and activities of the tournament.The humanity unites them despite the difference in cultures, and the sincere desire to make the championship a success, and they are acting as a one, the report added.The report hailed the volunteers as a large family of more than 20,000 volunteers, representing 150 countries from all over the world.They were chosen out of half a million requests to volunteer for the tournament through the FIFA platform, in addition to about 10,000 volunteers from outside the FIFA, including 2,000 serving people with special needs.In this context, Programme Manager at QF's Earthna Center for a Sustainable Future, Nihal al-Saleh said the centre co-operated with the Organising Committee for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 to train 247 volunteers on how to help fans with special needs on their journey to the stadiums.