French-born Wahbi Khazri scored the only goal of the game as Tunisia upset World Cup holders France 1-0 at the Education City Stadium on Wednesday, but the shock victory was not enough for them to join the defending champions in the last 16 of the tournament in Qatar.Khazri steered home a 58th-minute winner amid a cluster of defenders for only a third victory at six World Cup tournaments for Tunisia but they were still eliminated.France, who made nine changes for this match from the team that beat Denmark and had already booked their place in the knockout stages, finished top of Group D on goal difference from runners-up Australia, who beat Denmark 1-0 at the same time.France now take on the runners-up in Group C, which will be concluded later on Wednesday.
Australia reached the World Cup last 16 for the first time since 2006 after Mathew Leckie earned them a gritty 1-0 upset win over Denmark in their final Group D match on Wednesday.After a goalless first half in which Denmark looked lively and had more possession, Australia scored on the counter in the 60th minute when Leckie got past the Danish defence and twisted into space before slotting the ball home.Australia finished second with six points, level with group winners France after the world champions lost 1-0 to Tunisia. Denmark were bottom on one point with Tunisia third on four.Graham Arnold's side next face the winners of Group C, which was led by Poland after two rounds. The Poles face Argentina later on Wednesday in their final group match.The Australians have qualified for the knockout rounds for only the second time, having also done so 16 years ago when they lost 1-0 to Italy in the last 16.Denmark created chances in the first half and could have taken an early lead but Jesper Lindstrom's shot from close range was blocked before Australia goalkeeper Mat Ryan parried away an attempt from Mathias Jensen.The Australian defence was guilty of gifting space to Joakim Maehle on the left in the 19th minute as the defender drilled the ball into the box, but Ryan once again came to Australia's rescue, kicking the ball away.Australia began creating chances and threatening the Danish defence as forward Duke Mitchell took aim from range, while Riley McGree had a shot saved by Kasper Schmeichel.They finally broke the deadlock at the hour mark as Leckie timed his run perfectly and sent the ball through Maehle's legs before beating Schmeichel.Denmark thought they had been handed a lifeline 10 minutes later when the referee awarded a penalty for a foul on Kasper Dolberg, but it was quickly overturned after the flag was raised for offside.
Belgium and Croatia are set to meet tomorrow in their last match in Group F, seeking a ticket to the knockout stage of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.So far, Croatia leads the group standings with 4 points and one goal ahead of Morocco the runner ups who also have 4 points, while Belgium is in the third place with 3 point and Canada who are officially out of the competition have zero points.The teams of Croatia, Morocco and Belgium are competing for the two tickets to advance to the knockout stage, awaiting the outcome of the two decisive encounters in the third round tomorrow.Belgium won their first match against Canada 1-0, but lost their second to Morocco 0-2. They enter tomorrow's match eyeing a victory against Croatia, to guarantee a place in next round.Croatia, who made an important 4-0 win against Canada and a goalless tie with Morocco are leading the group F standings. A lead that could be lost if they lose to Belgium, especially that their rivals, Morocco, are set to meet Canada in a relatively easier encounter.
Former England national team player John Barnes said that everyone should respect Qatari laws, customs, traditions, and culture during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.In an article published in the British newspaper The Times, Barnes said that Qatar has invited everyone to the World Cup, but demanded everyone to be respectful of their ways, laws and culture, criticising the Western campaigns against Qatar's World Cup."It's interesting to observe that some of those who are making a lot of noise now have had little to say about the development of Qatar over the previous 20 years," he added.Barnes, who played in 79 international matches with the England national team between 1983 and 1995, stressed that the situation in Qatar is better with the developments in housing, facilities, and wages.Before the World Cup, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office issued a set of advice and instructions to fans of the England and Wales national teams coming to Qatar to attend the FIFA World Cup matches and asked them to review Qatari laws and customs to know what they should avoid during their stay and to respect the customs and traditions of the host country.
Saudi Arabia’s players have the chance to write history if they qualify for the World Cup knockout stages, coach Herve Renard said yesterday. Saudi Arabia need to beat Mexico in their last Group C match to guarantee reaching the last 16 for the second time regardless of the outcome of the Poland versus Argentina game.Saudi Arabia are third in the group with three points, behind Argentina on goal difference, while Poland have four points and Mexico are bottom with one point. “Saudi Arabia have a good generation, and the only time the national team qualified for the last 16 was in 1994, so if the players want the fans to remember them, they should write history or they will be forgotten within 30 years,” Renard told a news conference.“All teams are strong, and we still have a chance in the third match. Mexico have a lot of experience in the World Cup and we have to fight to stay in the tournament.”The French coach said captain Salman al-Faraj, Mohamed al-Burayk and Yasser al-Shahrani will miss the game with injuries while Abdulelah al-Malki is suspended. “We will miss the efforts of four important players, but as I said before, I have a squad of 26 players, and we have to deal with the matter and fight to qualify tomorrow,” he said.The 54-year-old indicated that it was the third most important match of his coaching career after winning the Africa Cup of Nations with Zambia and Ivory Coast.“It is the third after the finals in 2012 and 2015, because the defeat in these matches leaves you with regrets and regrets damage your life, so we have to be positive and play with determination and spirit with the support of the fans, and the fight for qualification will be until the last minute. “So people with fragile hearts should be careful and not watch the match,” he added with a smile.Renard said he was well acquainted with Mexico and their coach Tata Martino. “If you want me to tell you the starting lineup for Mexico, I can. Mexico have a strong team and a great coach because he previously trained Barcelona, which is not easy,” he said.“You have to give more than 100% and we only think about qualifying. Mexico played really well against Argentina and then (Lionel) Messi came and decided everything,” he added, referring to Mexico’s 2-0 defeat on Saturday.“We will try to be strong on Mexico’s weaknesses and try to exploit them in order to win. We must not feel afraid and that every player should trust himself and his teammate that we can face any team.”Frenchman Renard’s rousing half-time team talk in Saudi Arabia’s shock come-from-behind victory over Argentina has gone down in legend. A short clip of Renard firing up his World Cup minnows when trailing 1-0 at half-time to a Lionel Messi penalty — they bounced back to win 2-1 — proved a viral hit.He admitted that his team talks don’t always have such a dramatic effect. “I accepted for the communications department to record one minute (at half-time) so this day I was lucky because it worked,” Renard said. “But I’m coaching for more than 20 years now and with a lot of humility I can tell you it was not working all the time, unfortunately!”With Saudi Arabia on the brink of a historic qualification, Renard was asked if the Mexico clash was the biggest match of his life. But he insisted that winning two finals at the Africa Cup of Nations — with Zambia in 2012 and Ivory Coast in 2015 — remained more important. “Those are meetings that you must not mess up, otherwise you will regret it your whole life. “Having regrets is the most harmful thing you can have in life, and you must always be positive.”
Christian Pulisic fired the United States into the last 16 of the World Cup yesterday as the Americans downed Iran 1-0 in their politically charged grudge match. Chelsea star Pulisic bundled home the do-or-die Group B game’s only goal on 38 minutes to set up a second round clash with Group A winners the Netherlands on Saturday.The victory was no less than US coach Gregg Berhalter’s youthful side deserved in what was only the third international football clash between the bitter ideological rivals.The build-up to a pulsating showdown had been marked by steadily escalating tension, with Iran’s Football Federation on Sunday demanding FIFA sanction US Soccer for posting a modified version of their country’s flag on social media.But despite an electrifying atmosphere at Doha’s Al Thumama Stadium, yesterday’s game played out without controversy as the US avenged their 1998 World Cup defeat to Iran to send the Asian qualifiers crashing out of the tournament.Iran’s fans had roared their team onto the field at the start of the game amid a deafening cacophony of air-horns and cheers from the crowd of 42,127. But despite the intimidating reception it was the Americans who looked more comfortable, quickly establishing their dominance.The US signalled their attacking ambition after only two minutes, Pulisic surging forward menacingly before being dispossessed.That was a shape of things to come as they laid siege to the Iranian goal. Valencia midfielder Yunus Musah shot over the bar and Pulisic just failed to get enough power on a header after a cross from Antonee Robinson. Fullback Sergino Dest was a constant threat down the right flank for the Americans, whipping a cross over in the 17th minute that Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand could only parry.After sustained US pressure, the breakthrough finally came in the 38th minute. A brilliant crossfield pass from McKennie picked out Dest down the right. The AC Milan defender headed back across goal and Pulisic was on hand to bravely finish.There was alarm for US fans with Pulisic needing sustained treatment after a heavy collision with Beiranvand but it was the Iranians and their noisy fans who were left winded by the goal. Josh Sargent and Tim Weah combined well with a dazzling counter-attack but the final ball went astray. Then in injury time McKennie’s sublime pass found Weah who finished brilliantly past Beiranvand only to be ruled just offside. Knowing that an equaliser would send them into the second round, the Iranians stepped up the pressure in the second half. But substitute Saman Ghoddos squandered two gilt-edged chances to get his team into the match, heading over from close range before blazing a shot over the bar on the 65th minute with the whole goal to aim at. Saeid Ezatolahi curled a long-range shot over the bar soon afterwards as the Americans continued to live dangerously.Iran threatened again inside the final 10 minutes when Ali Karimi just failed to get on the end of a teasing cross by Ezatolahi. A diving header from Morteza Pouraliganji whistled just wide in injury time and then Mehdi Taremi had calls for a penalty after a tangle with Cameron Carter Vickers waved away as to leave American nerves jangling.
Spain midfielder Pedri only turned 20 last week but his team-mate Koke says even the squad’s veteran players are learning from him at the World Cup.Pedri burst into the limelight in 2020 with Barcelona as a teenager and played a key role for Spain at the Euro last summer.The midfielder has been one of the World Cup’s most impressive players so far, running the midfield in Spain’s 7-0 destruction of Costa Rica and holding his own in the heavyweight clash against Germany, a 1-1 draw.His club colleague Gavi, 18, has also impressed in Qatar alongside Pedri in midfield, and Koke praised the creative Barcelona duo.“The two of them make magic, their level is spectacular given their age,” Koke told a press conference yesterday.“Pedri is spectacular, you might not think so but the older players learn from the younger ones, he does things that many of us don’t do on the pitch.“I learn from him, seeing the good things he does, it’s spectacular playing beside Pedri.”The 30-year-old Koke, at his third World Cup, also said he and the squad’s other veterans, including Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Cesar Azpilicueta, were offering their younger teammates support in return.“All this unity makes for such a strong and healthy group of players,” said Koke.“The young players have to be excited and that brings nerves. They have to enjoy it, and be calm.“The older players try to bring that calmness, we have to take advantage of these moments.”NO FEARKoke may have a chance to start in La Roja’s final World Cup group match against Japan tomorrow, with qualification for the last 16 on the line.If Luis Enrique’s side earn at least a point they will be guaranteed to progress to the knock-out phase, while victory would guarantee them top spot.Should Spain finish top of their group and progress to the quarter-finals, they would be in line to face Brazil if Tite’s side, favourites to win the tournament, do the same. However Koke said Spain would not be trying to game the system and avoid the five-time World Cup winners.“The only strategy is to go out and win against Japan,” said Koke.“We’ll see if we end up facing Brazil or not. We don’t fear anybody and we respect everybody.”Koke has featured as a substitute in the opening two matches of the tournament, but changes may beckon in the final group match.Sergio Busquets was booked against Germany and would be in danger of suspension for a prospective last-16 tie if he saw another yellow card against Japan, opening the door for Koke to feature.Busquets’ natural replacement Rodri Hernandez has played the first two games at centre-back and was training away from the main group yesterday, on a stationary bicycle.Gavi, who suffered a knock to the knee against Germany, was also cycling individually, but both players are expected to return to full training today, a Spanish football federation source told reporters.
Hosts Qatar, who were playing in the FIFA World Cup for the first time, Tuesday lost against Netherlands 2-0 in their last group stage clash at Al Bayt Stadium. Cody Gakpo opened the scoring in the 26th minute before Frenki de Jong doubled the lead in the 49th minute.FIFA president Gianni Infantino watched the Group A clash that was watched by 66,784 fans. Fans attending the match were thrilled with organization of the 32-team event.Though Qatar failed to qualify for the Round of 16 the organization of the Qatar 2022 has been widely acclaimed and praised by sports experts, former players and visiting ministers and fans. The generosity of the host nation Qatar and the local culture and traditions, the Arab cuisine, the transport arrangements and fan zone activities have all won applause from one and all.The hosts have been able to dispel misconceptions about the Arab culture and the Middle East region by excellent experience provided to the visitors from across the World.Football’s showpiece event has provided plenty of excitement so far – plus a host of surprising results. Fans from across the globe are enjoying the matches, along with the vast array of entertainment and cultural events taking place across the country.Former Kuwaiti national team striker Dr. Jassim al-Huwaidi praised Qatar's tremendous efforts in hosting the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.Al-Huwaidi said that Qatar's success in organizing the World Cup is the result of a great work and creativity at all levels, stressing that Qatar was able to attract the world’s attention with its excellence in organizing the biggest global football event.“Qatar's dream has become a reality. Since it won the honour the host the 2022 World Cup, Qatar has exerted diligent efforts in order to present the World Cup in the best way possible. Everyone watched the splendid and legendary opening at Al Bayt Stadium, which will be memorable in history, not to mention the great creativity in organizing the matches. Now, as the tournament reaches its eighth day, everyone is talking about the great capabilities of Qatar, a country that is small in size but large by its people who left luminous fingerprints proving their great capabilities to the whole world, al-Huwaidi said.Mexico legend Luis Hernandez is also enjoying the festive atmosphere at the Qatar 2022. Hernandez, who appeared in two editions of the tournament and famously scored four goals at France ’98, expects the excitement to build over the coming weeks.
Christian Pulisic fired the United States into the last 16 of the World Cup Tuesday as the Americans downed Iran 1-0 in their politically charged grudge match. Chelsea star Pulisic bundled home the do-or-die Group B game's only goal on 38 minutes to set up a second round clash with Group A winners the Netherlands on Saturday.The victory was no less than US coach Gregg Berhalter's youthful side deserved in what was only the third international football clash between the bitter ideological rivals.The build-up to a pulsating showdown had been marked by steadily escalating tension, with Iran's Football Federation on Sunday demanding FIFA sanction US Soccer for posting a modified version of their country's flag on social media.But despite an electrifying atmosphere at Doha's Al Thumama Stadium, Tuesday's game played out without controversy as the US avenged their 1998 World Cup defeat to Iran to send the Asian qualifiers crashing out of the tournament.Iran's fans had roared their team onto the field at the start of the game amid a deafening cacophony of air-horns and cheers from the crowd of 42,127. But despite the intimidating reception it was the Americans who looked more comfortable, quickly establishing their dominance.US captain Tyler Adams and Juventus' Weston McKennie controlled proceedings in midfield to leave Iran struggling to gain foothold. The US signalled their attacking ambition after only two minutes, Pulisic surging forward menacingly before being dispossessed.That was a shape of things to come as they laid siege to the Iranian goal. Valencia midfielder Yunus Musah shot over the bar and Pulisic just failed to get enough power on a header after a cross from Antonee Robinson. Fullback Sergino Dest was a constant threat down the right flank for the Americans, whipping a cross over in the 17th minute that Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand could only parry.After sustained US pressure, the breakthrough finally came in the 38th minute. A brilliant crossfield pass from McKennie picked out Dest down the right. The AC Milan defender headed back across goal and Pulisic was on hand to bravely finish.There was alarm for US fans with Pulisic needing sustained treatment after a heavy collision with Beiranvand but it was the Iranians and their noisy fans who were left winded by the goal. The crowd instantly became more subdued and the US twice came close to doubling their lead before half-time.Josh Sargent and Tim Weah combined well with a dazzling counter-attack but the final ball went astray. Then in injury time McKennie's sublime pass found Weah who finished brilliantly past Beiranvand only to be ruled just offside. Knowing that an equaliser would send them into the second round, the Iranians stepped up the pressure in the second half.But substitute Saman Ghoddos squandered two gilt-edged chances to get his team into the match, heading over from close range before blazing a shot over the bar on the 65th minute with the whole goal to aim at. Saeid Ezatolahi curled a long-range shot over the bar soon afterwards as the Americans continued to live dangerously.Iran threatened again inside the final 10 minutes when Ali Karimi just failed to get on the end of a teasing cross by Ezatolahi. A diving header from Morteza Pouraliganji whistled just wide in injury time and then Mehdi Taremi had calls for a penalty after a tangle with Cameron Carter Vickers waved away as to leave American nerves jangling before their team hung on for a famous win.
England delivered a commanding performance to beat Wales 3-0 to sign in for the last 16 of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 along with the Netherlands who eased past hosts Qatar Tuesday.Also Tuesday, the USA edged Iran 1-0 to seal their place in the last 16 while Senegal broke Ecuador hearts to advance to the next stage.The USA play Group A winner the Netherlands on Saturday, while Group B winner England will take on Group A runner-up Senegal on Sunday.ENGLAND CRUISE PAST WALESCoached by Gareth Southgate, England will face Senegal after topping the points table in Group B with win over Wales.Marcus Rashford (50 and 68) scored twice for England at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium while the third goal was netted by Phil Foden (51) as Southgate's team ended Wales' first World Cup campaign since 1958.England topped the group with seven points.USA BEAT IRAN IN MUST-WIN MATCHChristian Pulisic scored in the 38th minute and the USA men's national team held on in a must-win match to defeat Iran 1-0 at Al Thumama Stadium to advance to the round of 16.The USA finished second in Group B with five points to reach the knockout stage for the sixth time in 11 World Cup appearances.SENEGAL SOAR, ECUADOR HOPES DASHEDIn a dramatic finish, Ismaila Sarr scored off a penalty in 44th minute before Kalidou Koulibaly produced the winning goal in the 70th to lead Senegal into last 16 in a Group A tie.Moises Caicedo scored for Ecuador in the 67th minute. Ecuador captain Enner Valencia remained relatively quiet in the Group A encounter at Khalifa International Stadium._________________________________Netherlands Vs USA, England Vs SenegalIn the pre-quarterfinals of the round of 16 matches, Netherlands will meet USA at the Khalifa International Stadium at 6pm on December 3.And England will confront Senegal 6pm December 4 at Al Bayt Stadium.______________________________"Four days ago we were up against a brick wall. We knew this was a win or lose situation," Senegal coach Aliou Cisse said after the match Tuesday.Koulibaly, who was declared the Man-of-the-match, said: "Senegal need to show why we are champions of Africa" when they face the winner of Group B on Sunday. "We need to rest up, keep a cool head, yes we've qualified and yes we can savour the win, but now we need to concentrate," the Chelsea defender added.Ecuador manager Gustavo Alfaro said Tuesday: "At half-time I told them if you want to stay in the World Cup, you have to play. Today we were knocked out of a beautiful dream that these guys were weaving over the past few years."NETHERLANDS TOP GROUPGakpo tallied in his third straight game to lead the Netherlands past Qatar 2-0 at Al Bayt Stadium Tuesday and into the knockout stage. The Dutch topped Group A with the win, earning seven points.Gakpo scored in the 26th minute followed by Frenkie de Jong's goal in the 49th minute to cruise past the hosts.Gakpo had a second goal wiped out after it was determined he had handled the ball.
Marcus Rashford's second-half double propelled England to a 3-0 win over neighbours Wales on Tuesday that sent them into the World Cup last 16 as Group B winners and ended Welsh hopes of reaching the knockout stage.The encounter came to life when Rashford curled home a free kick from the edge of the area in the 50th minute before Phil Foden arrived unmarked at the far post to sidefoot Harry Kane's cross into the net a minute later.Rashford then inflicted a final blow when he cut inside and somehow managed to find the net with a shot that went through the legs of goalkeeper Danny Ward in the 68th.The win moved England to seven points and set up a tie against Senegal in the next round, while Wales finished bottom with one point as their first World Cup in 64 years ended without a victory and only one goal scored in three games.
The range of services and facilities in place to ensure connectivity and mobility for specially-abled fans from across the world at FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is winning praise for the country, especially for making the mega tournament an inclusive event.“I am able to explore Qatar by enjoying the matches and tourist destinations. I can do things on my own. Qatar’s transport network is fully equipped to meet the requirements of fans like me,” Hassan Ameera, a football fan from Jordan told Gulf Times. He has so far attended five matches while using metro, buses and taxis to reach his destinations.When Ameera was planning the trip to Doha, he was told that the most accessible World Cup edition awaits him in Qatar where all facilities are provided for specially-abled fans.“My experience in Qatar testifies the claims by the organisers. The buses are accessibility-friendly while the metro is easily accessible with lifts everywhere. I faced no challenge while travelling and accessing the stadiums,” he said.In an ideal atmosphere suitable for children with autism and neurobehavioural disorders, the World Cup stadiums are equipped with sensory rooms for people with intellectual disabilities. These help the children enjoy the matches in a safe space equipped with all advanced tools and devices.The stadium lobby is equipped with the latest assistive technology and educational and rehabilitation equipment. Besides, the facilities help blind and partially sighted fans listen to audio descriptive commentary in Arabic at World Cup matches. The service is accessible through a mobile application and available at all eight stadiums.Aasim Velimanna, a specially-abled football fan from India, narrated a similar tale of a great experience while attending the matches and travelling to the stadiums.“Inside and outside the stadiums, we were assisted by trained volunteers. Also, we were given rides from the stadium to the metro station,” said Asim’s father Saeed Yamani, adding that toilets are accessible while the staff and volunteers helpful.Parking was convenient and accessible, he had designated wheelchair seating with his son, and accessibility to the seat was also seamless. Mowasalat (Karwa) has provided a new fleet of wheelchair accessible taxis to expand the volume and availability of travel options for passengers with disabilities and limited mobility. These taxis have a dedicated drop-off point close to stadium entrances. Doha Metro has level access boarding with dedicated seating for people with limited mobility and spaces for wheelchair users. The shuttle buses have accessibility features and Mowaslat has a fleet of low-floor buses with ramped access for wheelchair users and wheelchair space inside.
A change of tactics by Senegal to bypass Ecuador's sturdy midfield allowed them to capitalize on their rivals' indecisiveness between defending and attacking in a 2-1 win that sent the African nation into the knockout stage of the World Cup. In their final Group A match on Tuesday and needing a win to progress, Senegal opted to play a lone target man, with their wingers wider than they have so far in the tournament. With wingers Ismaila Sarr and Iliman Ndiaye at times marauding near the touchline, Senegal avoided being stopped by Moises Caicedo, a lynchpin of the Ecuadorean team. The pair stimulated the Senegalese attack with seven completed crosses and 15 attempts at goal. Piero Hincapie, unable to handle Sarr's pace from the wing, eventually brought him down with a clumsy tackle in the box, leading to the opening goal from the penalty spot by Sarr himself. Ecuador, who needed only a draw to advance, sat back in the first half but that penalty just before halftime forced them to change their formation to 4-2-4 from their original 4-3-3 after the break to bolster their attack as elimination loomed. The sense of urgency that accompanied the formation change pushed them forward and ultimately led to the equaliser by Caicedo, whose commanding presence in midfield has buoyed his side throughout the group stage. But in a sign of their youthfulness and inexperience on the international stage, Ecuador seemed to relax after levelling and paid a fatal price as they conceded the winning goal three minutes later. Enner Valencia, who scored three of his country's four goals at the tournament, looked to be suffering the effects of the injury sustained in the opening game that led to him being taken off in both previous matches. Without his cutting edge, Ecuador showed little, and the final frustration for their country's soccer hero was that it was his error that led to Kalidou Koulibaly's winning goal.
A week ago popular coach Louis van Gaal boldly announced that his Dutch side had arrived in Qatar seeking their first FIFA World Cup title win. The 71-year-old veteran coach Tuesday saw his side add credence to that claim when Netherlands handed Qatar their third successive defeat with a clinical 2-0 victory at Al Bayt Stadium.For Netherlands, the 2010 FIFA World Cup runners-up, it was their third win in as many matches after PSV Eindhoven striker Cody Gakpo opened the scoring in the 26th minute while Frenkie de Jong found the net in the 49th in front of 66,784 fans.For Qatar, after having lost to Ecuador and Senegal earlier in the week, it was a chance to end their World Cup journey with an upset win against the 18th ranked side in the world. The Netherlands, tutored by Van Gaal, made sure that it wouldn't happen for the hosts.In the first half hour the Dutch dominated play but Qatar – trailing by a goal - picked up short momentum in the last 15 minutes before the break. Thereafter the hosts played catch-up for most part of what was entertaining football from the men in orange.Just four minutes into the first half, captain Virgil Van Dijk found Barcelona forward Memphis Depay with a slick long ball to the left of the Qatar box. Depay was tad slow to position himself as the ball bounced away without causing any damage. Qatar captain Hassan AlHaydos, playing his 170th game, produced a counterattack but his shot from outside the Dutch box was pouched by keeper Andries Noppert.Moments later, Daley Blind tried to shoot the ball into the net from close range - following a goalmouth melee - but his feeble shot was punched away by Meshaal Barsham, younger sibling of global track and field icon Mutaz Barshim. Shortly afterwards a stoppage in play took place when Qatar's Ismael Mohammed felt the force of a head butt against Dutchman Nathan Ake. In another stoppage, Davy Klassen rammed his head into Homam Ahmed inside the Qatar box.Al Haydos and Afif were seen playing at the back as the fear of attacks by the Dutch mounted in the first 12 minutes. Barsham, the young Qatari keeper, was alert to a deflection from his own defender as he dived to his right to collect the ball. Depay, who was inside the Qatari box, sent a volley above the crossbar in the 13th minute as FIFA president Gianni Infantino watched from the stands.The Dutch - with their relentless attacks - forced a corner after Al Haydos cleared a ball from Denzel Dumfries but the flag kick was wasted much to the delight of Qatari fans.In the 20th minute, Afif swiveled past a couple of Dutch defenders but his cross from the edge of the box had no takers on the far side. Jurrien Timber blocked a shot from Homam to allow Qatar the first corner in the 24th minute. Another corner followed moments later butAl Sadd defender Abdelkarim Hassan was wayward with his deflection from inside the box. Afif, in another solo run on the flank, found Homam with a cross that seemed to have too much pace.Gakpo, seconds later, added his third goal of the tournament in the 26th minute. After a short dribble near the Qatari box where he was chased by Assim Madibo, Gakpo - after a neat cross from Klassen - quickly positioned himself and unleashed a powerful right-footed drive that sailed past the outstretched hands of Barsham. Ismail Mohamed and Al Haydos tried to sandwich Gakpo who exhibited incredible speed and accuracy on his shot for his side's first goal.Soon after the half-hour mark, Qatar tried to build momentum with a couple of threatening moves but the forwards lacked coordination up front. In the 34th minute, defender Hassan broke free of his marker on the left flank but his cross had no takers with Dutch captain van Dijk easily clearing up the move inside his own box.In another similar attack, striker Almoez Ali slipped in a neat cross for al-Haydos inside the Dutch box but the Qatari captain was slow to react before he lost the ball.Marten de Roon found Gakpo with a cross on the edge of the Qatar box in the 40th minute. Gakpo once again found pace on his shot but there was too much elevation on the flight that sent the ball sailing above the Qatar crossbar. From the corner of his eye, a disappointed Gakpo realized the move was declared offside by the linesman.To summarize Qatar's performance in the first half was the miss from Afif after a neat cross from Hassan close to the halfline. Shockingly Afif had no legs to keep the ball in play and move ahead. On the final touch of the first half, Deepay launched a fierce drive that picked up a late swing and sailed past the goalpost to the right of keeper Barsham.Netherlands doubled the lead in the 49th minute when Barcelona midfielder De Jong scored from close range. Qatar keeper Barsham had saved a brilliant shot from Deepay but De Jong wasted little time to find the net.Four minutes from the first hour mark, Qatar suffered another hit-and-miss when Hassan delivered a neat cross into the Dutch box where there was home player to keep the ball in play. A few minutes later, defender Pedro Miguel delivered a near-perfect cross from the left flank but once again the ball sailed away with no Qatari striker in position for a deflection.With lack of finishing in the front, coach Felix Sanchez made three substitutions that included captain Al Haydos called back. Van Gaal, on the other hand, rolled back Deepay and Memphis to cool the star players for the next round.In the 67th minute, Steven Berghuis and Vincent Janssen combined to score their side's third goal. Berghuis' easy shot into an empty net from close range was cancelled after a VAR decision showed Gakpo had handled the ball in the build-up.In the 80th minute, keeper Noppert made a save near his own goalpost before Mohamed Muntari could initiate a move. In injury time, Berguis hit the Qatar crossbar. As Van Gaal looked towards the Round of 16, Qatar coach Sanchez was seen looking for his accreditation at the final whistle.
The Cultural & Entertainment Experience Programme organised by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy is wowing football fans from across the globe during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.One of more than 600 acts entertaining the crowds is the award-winning Prodigal UPG, which stages parkour performances – a unique blend of free running and dancing.We spoke to Prodigal UPG manager and performer Alister O’Loughlin to find out more about the group and their experiences during Qatar 2022.Tell us about the group and its history.Miranda Henderson, our artistic director and choreographer, and I have worked together since we took over the management of Nightingale Theatre in Brighton, UK, back in 2002. A year later, we started working on parkour and established the Prodigal UPG in 2006, coining the phrase ‘performance parkour’ to describe the art.Malik Diouf, the co-creator of parkour, happened to meet us when he filmed one of our original performances for his documentary and subsequently joined the team, which has been incredible. Although he’s very busy being a stunt performer and training new talent, he still works closely with us.We have performed all over the world and teach the art globally, so it’s been quite a journey so far, with ambitious plans for the future. We would like to establish and build a positive future for the discipline and make it both accessible and sustainable.How has your Qatar 2022 experience been so far?It’s the largest sporting tournament on Earth and we can feel the World Cup vibes! The fans are out in force, everyone is in good spirits and the atmosphere is uplifting.You see people from all over the world striking up conversations and friendships. We see people staying until the end of our performances – they want to have a chat, take selfies and learn more about our act. Even when we travel on the metro at the end of the night, people of all nationalities talk to us and we often see people return to watch our performances multiple times, which is a great compliment for us. As positive word-of-mouth spreads, we are seeing more people coming to watch us daily.A sports tournament reinforces the important message that human beings from across the world have much in common. Our act is visual and silent and I think that adds to its universal appeal. We’re delighted it brings everyone together, while also highlighting key messages. For example, one of our pieces reflects the rise and prominence of women’s football.We’ve noticed a natural spirit and friendliness of people here. It is pleasant, safe, jovial and respectful. Opposing fans are having sing-offs in the street and it is all done in good jest. The banter and camaraderie have been fun to see.What are your overall impressions of Qatar?We first performed here back in 2014 when we collaborated with the British Council. We were also fortunate to do performances in Kuwait and Oman at that time.We found Qatar charming back in 2014 – but seeing it now, in 2022, and the scale at which it has developed, is mind-blowing. The skyline is almost unrecognisable, the metro is incredible and the overall infrastructure is very impressive.During our first visit, we performed at Souq Waqif but this time we couldn’t quite work out where we had performed until we noticed a shoe shop. As we looked around, we realised just how much everything had evolved since our last visit.Which team are you supporting during the World Cup?Well, our team is always very united, however we do have a variety of answers to this question!One person is supporting Ghana, while another cheers for Iran. We also have someone backing Saudi Arabia, and another supporting England. Then there’s a couple of us who always cheer for the underdogs.You can catch Prodigal UPG’s performances next to the UK pavilion at the Museum of Islamic Art Park daily at 4:30 PM, 6 PM, 7 PM and 8 PM.
India-based Arab artiste Nora Fatehi will perform at FIFA Fan Festival, Al Bidda Park, this evening. Exact timing of the show is yet to be provided by the organisers.Nora is the most followed Arab artiste in the world on Instagram with 42mn followers and counting, along with a collective 7bn views on YouTube on her featured videos. She became the first Arab African female artiste to hit 1bn on a single unit on YouTube with her hit song ‘Dilbar’.Nora was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, by parents of Moroccan origin. She speaks English, Arabic, Moroccan dialect and Hindi.Nora moved to India to pursue her dream in acting and performance in Hindi cinema, debuting in the Hindi action film ‘Roar: Tigers of the Sunderbans’. She built a successful career in hit movies like ‘Baahubali’ (in the song ‘Manohari’) and by dancing in Indian reality show ‘Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 9’.She became an international star with her smash hit ‘Dilbar’, which was featured in Bollywood movie ‘Satyamave Jayate’. The song made her a star overnight as it broke all possible records on all streaming platforms. It was the first song ever to hit 20mn views in less than 24 hours.She had made her singing debut back in 2018 when she sang and produced the Arabic-language version of ‘Dilbar’ along with Moroccan band Fnaire, which gained her a huge Arab following.Since then, she has received huge appreciation and positive reviews for her role in the movie ‘Batla House’, in which she played a small-town girl and also performed another dance number, ‘O Saki Saki’, which was another a huge hit and reached 20mn views in less than 24 hours. In 2020, she became a popular judge on India’s Best Dancer, one of the top shows in India, her presence increasing the show’s ratings.Nora is one of the artistes featured in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 official track, 'Light the Sky'.The FIFA Fan Festival opens at 4pm today.
Mohamed Kudus scored twice as Ghana beat South Korea 3-2 in a pulsating encounter yesterday to keep their World Cup hopes alive and leave Paulo Bento’s side facing an early exit.Mohamed Salisu opened the scoring against the run of play midway through the first half at Education City Stadium and Ajax midfielder Kudus doubled the Black Stars’ lead.But the Asian side, who looked toothless in the first half, roared back after the break, pulling level through a quickfire double from forward Cho Gue-sung either side of the hour mark.Ghana looked shell-shocked as the Korean fans celebrated wildly but they were back in front in the 68th minute when Kudus finished calmly at the back post after his teammate Inaki Williams failed to connect with a cross from the left.The result takes Ghana second in Group H on three points. Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal will have six points and secure qualification for the last 16 if they beat Uruguay in the later kick-off in Qatar.South Korea have just one point, gained in their opening 0-0 draw against Uruguay.“It was emotional, ups and downs,” said Ghana coach Otto Addo, who admitted South Korea were dominant at the start of the match and gave his team huge problems after the break.“At the end we were a bit lucky but this is football,” he added. “Against Portugal we were unlucky and now we’re lucky and we’re really, really happy that our passionate fight got rewarded.”The Asian side, captained by Son Heung-min, were quicker to settle, forcing a succession of corners but were unable to fashion a shot on target in the entire first half.Son looked uncomfortable in the black face mask he is wearing after having surgery for a facial injury he suffered while playing for Tottenham, constantly readjusting it.Ghana, who lost their opener 3-2 to Portugal, struggled to gain a foothold in the game.But the match totally changed complexion in the 24th minute when the impressive Jordan Ayew, playing down the left for Ghana, swung in a free-kick.South Korea failed to clear and Southampton centre-back Salisu finished with his left foot, sparking wild scenes of celebration among the Ghana fans decked out in red, yellow and green.The goal revitalised the African nation, who reached the quarter-finals in 2010, with South Korea struggling to deal with their physicality and direct approach.Now playing with flair and confidence, Ghana poured forward and doubled their lead in the 34th minute when Kudus powered a header home after a pin-point Jordan Ayew cross from the left.Captain Andre Ayew – the brother of Jordan – called his men into a team huddle on the pitch and the players got soaked by the sprinklers after the half-time whistle.The Koreans at last found the net in the 58th minute when Cho headed home a cross from substitute Lee Kang-in, who had just been brought on by Bento.And they were level just three minutes later when Cho headed home Kim Jin-su’s ball from the left, sparking scenes of delirium among the Korean fans.Ghana were rocking but they dug deep and restored their lead midway through the second half through the impressive Kudus.South Korea came back again. Goalkeeper Lawrence AtiZigi was forced into a scrambling save to push away a free-kick while Salisu cleared off the line.South Korea kept up their relentless pressure during 10 minutes of added time but could not find an equaliser and a number of their players collapsed to the turf at the final whistle, contemplating a third straight exit at the group stage of a World Cup.Bento was sent off after protesting at the end of the match that English referee Anthony Taylor had not allowed a corner to be taken. South Korea’s assistant coach Sergio Costa bemoaned the “totally unfair” result.“Not even a draw was fair,” he said. “We totally deserved the win so we can be very, very proud of what we have done. The result wasn’t fair. You can count on us for the next match.”Ghana’s Mohamed Kudus celebrates scoring their third goal with teammates during the Qatar 2022 Group H match against South Korea at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan yesterday. (Reuters)
England manager Gareth Southgate is poised to ring the changes as his team chases victory against Wales today to ensure qualification as World Cup Group B winners.Southgate picked the same starting line-up for last week’s games against Iran and the United States, but is expected to bring in fresh faces for today’s final group game against the Welsh.A win for England at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha will guarantee that Southgate’s men finish on top of Group B heading into the last 16. England were booed off the field after their 0-0 draw with the United States last Friday after a sluggish performance that was in stark contrast to their rampant 6-2 opening win over Iran.It has led to a growing clamour for new faces, notably Manchester City’s Phil Foden, to be brought into the starting line-up, while some have even suggested captain Harry Kane could be rested as he recovers from a minor foot knock. “We’ve got to balance freshness with stability and that’s always the decision you make when you’re picking a team,” Southgate told a news conference yesterday.“We’ve got a chance to win the group with a positive result. There’s a lot resting on the game for both teams.”England could still qualify for the knockout rounds with a draw or even a narrow loss, but Southgate had his team would be chosen with victory in mind. “We’re going to pick a team that we believe can win the game,” said. “That’s our priority always.”Asked about Kane’s fitness, he added: “He’s fine in terms of the knock he has.“He’s trained well, the whole group. We’ve got to this point with pretty much everyone available to select from which is a great position to be in.”Although hinting that he was set to change the starting lineup, Southgate emphasised that fans were unlikely to see a repeat of England’s final group game at the 2018 World Cup when they made eight changes and lost to Belgium.“We’re at a major tournament. It’s not about giving caps out. We’re here to try and go as far as we possibly can,” he said.Southgate meanwhile brushed off pre-tournament comments from Welsh striker Kieffer Moore, who was widely quoted as saying he “couldn’t wait” to eliminate England from the tournament. “He’s entitled to say whatever he wants leading into a game,” Southgate said. “I’d be amazed if he didn’t feel that way. “But it’s pointless us focusing on what was said before the game; we’ve got to go on the pitch and play well.”
With their country riven by unrest, Iran’s football team are trapped in an impossible position at the World Cup as they head into a decisive clash with the United States.They are criticised at home, where the security forces are battling protesters, whether they voice support for demonstrators or they stay quiet.The Iranians have insisted since the start of the competition that they are in Qatar to “fight for the people and bring them joy”. But Carlos Queiroz’s team are torn between conflicting interests as the government confronts widespread demonstrations sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini after she was arrested for allegedly violating the strict dress code for women.The Norway-based Iran Human Rights group says more than 410 people have been killed in a government crackdown.The unrest at home has put the Iranian players under intense pressure.“You don’t even imagine behind the scenes what these kids have been living in the last few days, just because they want to express themselves as footballers,” Portuguese coach Queiroz said after Iran lost their first game against England 6-2.But after beating Wales 2-0 in the second match, the team are back in contention for a place in the last 16.Having to take on Iran’s political nemesis, the United States, has only intensified the spotlight going into today’s match.Before the World Cup kicked off, Iranian players earned social media plaudits for refusing to sing the national anthem or to celebrate goals after Amini’s September 16 death.But the tone changed after Queiroz and his players met President Ebrahim Raisi before flying to Qatar. “Team Melli”, as the national side is known, has traditionally been a unifying force in the football-mad country. Now it is a symbol of the divisions. Shouts of “freedom” rang out from Iranians in the stadium when Iran took on England. They also shouted the name of Ali Karimi, the Bayern Munich player who has become a government critic.But players such as Mehdi Torabi and Vahid Amiri are considered government supporters.Before the England game, the players stayed silent during the national anthem. Against Wales, they sang half-heartedly. The government seized on the victory achieved with injury time goals.Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the players had made “the Iranian nation happy”. Jean-Baptiste Guegan, a French specialist on politics in sport, said the players are treading a fine line as they risk sanctions on their return from the World Cup.“On the other hand, there are activists and people involved in the struggle, who are risking their lives in Iran and want to see them (the team) be a symbol.”The team could also face suspension by FIFA for making political gestures. “It is the players’ dilemma,” said Guegan.
Five-time champions Brazil reached the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 when they beat Switzerland 1-0 in a Group G match Monday.Brazil relied on defensive midfielder Casemiro's spectacular volley in the 83rd minute to end Switzerland's resilient show at Stadium 974.After France, Brazil became the second country to seal a spot in the last 16 with a match to spare. Brazil played without their star player, Neymar Jr, who is nursing an ankle injury.Casemiro's late goal won him the man of the match award and spared Brazil's blushes after a scrappy performance that saw them hit plenty of loose passes before he struck his brilliant finish seven minutes from the end of normal time."It is very clear that my very first objective is to support the team...to put out fires wherever they may be. But nevertheless, if there is an opportunity to take a little shot on goal, I think that's very important," the 30-year-old told a news conference."Regardless of the goal scored, I think it's very important to have helped the team, when we win, we all win together, when we lose, we all lose together," he added.CAMEROON, SERBIA IN 6-GOAL THRILLERIn another Group G tie Monday, Cameroon drew 3-3 with Serbia in a scintillating clash at Al Janoub Stadium. Jean-Charles Victor Castelletto (29), Vincent Aboubakar (63) and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (66) scored for Cameroon. For Serbia, the goals were scored by Strahinja Pavlovic (45+1), S Milinkovic-Savic (45+3) and Aleksandar Mitrovic (53).Cameroon took the lead in the first half, only for Serbia to find the net thrice after that. But there was more drama in store as Cameroon scored twice after that to produce one of the most entertaining matches of the tournament so far.Brazil lead the group with six points, followed by Switzerland with three points, and Cameroon and Serbia with one point each.PORTUGAL IN LAST 16 WITH WIN OVER URUGUAYA second-half brace from Bruno Fernandes sent Portugal through to the last 16 of the World Cup Monday to join France and Brazil after a 2-0 win over a lacklustre Uruguay at Lusail Stadium.Fernandes scored with a cross intended for Cristiano Ronaldo that sailed fortuitously into the net on 54 minutes and converted a spot kick in stoppage time (90+3) to put his side into the knockout stages with a match remaining.Portugal had the lion's share of the possession and dominated for most of the Group H match, but struggled to create clear-cut chances until the second half in a game where Uruguay looked jaded and out of sorts.GHANA HOLD OFF BATTLING SOUTH KOREAIn another high-scoring clash, Ghana survived a furious late siege of their goal to revive their World Cup chances in a dramatic match at Education City Stadium Monday, holding off South Korea to secure a 3-2 victory that was greeted with as much relief as it was celebration.The African side earned their first points of the tournament and can still reach the second round on the back of two goals from Mohamed Kudus and one goal from Mohamed Salisu (24), as well as desperate defending in a roller-coaster match at the Education City Stadium.For South Korea, Cho Gue-sung (58 and 61) with a double was the star performer in the Group H tie.While Portugal are through with six points, Ghana has three points and South Korea and Uruguay have one point each.