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)
'Welcome to Qatar' ceremony on the Corniche Myriam Fares and Maluma will open Live Stage with headline solo performancesIt's time to let the party begin, and 'Live it All in Qatar'. FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 fans are in for a treat as two mega entertainment and festive activations will be launched Saturday, just a day before the first match of the tournament between hosts Qatar and Ecuador.These are the FIFA Fan Festival at Al Bidda Park and the street festival on the Doha Corniche.Gates will open at 4pm, with the inauguration beginning at 7pm with a live broadcast of the 'Welcome to Qatar' ceremony on the Corniche.Following that, Lebanese singer Myriam Fares and Colombian star Maluma will open the Live Stage with headline solo performances as well as a world-exclusive duet performance of the official FIFA Fan Festival anthem, 'Tukoh Taka' (featuring Nicki Minaj, Maluma and Fares), which was released Friday.The performances by Fares and Maluma will be the first of many by top global music acts and local artistes over the next four weeks, with international award-winning musicians Diplo, Kizz Daniel, Nora Fatehi, Trinidad Cardona and Calvin Harris to be brought to the Live Stage by FIFA Sound.On opening day, the Fan Festival will be open from 4pm-1am. Hayya Card is mandatory to gain access to the FIFA Fan Festival.“Fans from all over the world can look forward to 29 days of football, music, culture and lifestyle – a true festival of football,” a FIFA statement said.The FIFA Fan Festival is the perfect place to watch FIFA World Cup matches live in a buzzing atmosphere, while also enjoying an exciting football and entertainment programme. Join 40,000 fans and enjoy all 64 FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 matches live on the mega-screens. Also on offer will be unique global and local culinary experiences.Besides, many sponsor activities, dedicated football exhibitions and an official FIFA Store with licensed FIFA World Cup products await football fans.A test event held on Nov 16 was a huge success, with the venue witnessing the enthusiastic participation of a large crowd.The FIFA Fan Festival also houses the Fan Engagement Centre behind the Information Desk. It will provide basic consular services, support for fans who are facilitating fan gatherings, walks and performances, as well as serve as an outlet for fans to raise any concerns in a safe, fan-focused environment. It will also host fan engagement activations with tournament ambassadors and serve as a co-ordination hub for the SC’s Fan Leader Network.More details can be found at https://www.qatar2022.qa/en/fifa-fan-festivalMeanwhile, the Corniche will be home to "Qatar’s global street carnival along Doha’s iconic 6km waterfront", starting Saturday. It covers the stretch from the Museum of Islamic Art to Hotel Park (Sheraton).The atmosphere along the Corniche will celebrate nations – allowing fans to connect from all around the world. The activation will include 150+ food outlets, live concert stages, 'Welcome to Qatar' water and light shows, roaming performances, arts, culture and story-telling, family-friendly entertainment, Bedouin Village and official FIFA merchandise.The timings are from 12noon until midnight daily, with entertainment shows taking place from 3pm to 11pm.The waterfront has been decorated with palm frond-shaped lighting poles that reflects the Qatari heritage. Pedestrian underpasses and plazas have been constructed to facilitate the movement of people along the Corniche. To enhance the aesthetics of these underpasses and plazas, sculptures and artworks of various Qatari and resident artists have been installed, as well as cafes set up.The Doha Corniche has been decorated with 1,440 palm frond-shaped lighting poles in harmony with the sprawling palm trees on the Corniche along with the provision of 655 lighting poles with distinctive features in the central Doha area.A key part of the celebrations, 'Welcome to Qatar' is a must-see for all during the tournament, featuring the Circle of Lights – a shimmering circle suspended above the water that transforms to poetically narrate wonderful stories.Throughout the afternoon, dancing water fountains will bring the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Official Soundtrack to life. When the sun goes down, a stunning symphony of pyrotechnics, drones and water effects will light up the sky – all set to an original orchestral score.After the opening day, shows will take place daily at 3pm, 3.30pm, 4pm, 4.30pm, 5pm and 5.50pm throughout the tournament.Visit https://www.qatar2022.qa/en/live-it-all-in-qatar/the-corniche for more information.How to reach* FIFA Fan Festival (only Hayya Card holders allowed)Venue: Al Bidda ParkNearest metro stations: West Bay Qatar Energy (Red line), Al Bidda (Red and Green lines), Corniche (Red line) – exit onlyFans can also hop on the Shuttle Bus Loop or a Stadium Express Bus, Park & Ride and be dropped off at designated locations for taxi, Uber and CareemMore information about timings and other details can be found at https://www.qatar2022.qa/en/fifa-fan-festival* Corniche street celebrationsVenue: Corniche, from the Museum of Islamic Art to Hotel Park (Sheraton).Nearest metro station: Souq Waqif (Gold line), Corniche (Red line) – exit only, West Bay Qatar Energy (Red line), Al Bidda (Red and Green lines)Visit https://www.qatar2022.qa/en/live-it-all-in-qatar/the-corniche for more information about timings and other details.
A young man from Kenya has become a fan favourite with his creative method of directing people to the metro stationAbubakr Abbass, a 23-year-old from Kenya, has emerged as a fan favourite – and accidental social media sensation – during the football World Cup in Qatar.Sitting on a tennis-umpire chair and armed with a large foam finger, he guides the hundreds of fans visiting Souq Waqif to the metro station nearby with the help of his trusted megaphone.His helpful advice – “Metro? This way. Metro? This way” – has now become a famous catchphrase.“We love him; we love the metro guy,” one fan said, motioning towards Abbass.“I saw him on TikTok. I thought it was really funny. He makes me laugh; it’s such a simple task,” added a young fan wearing a Chelsea football shirt.People visiting Souq Waqif regularly interact with Abbass, engaging in back-and-forths and creating pantomime-like scenes.Not much is known about the Kenyan, but the mysterious social media star has earned plaudits for bringing enthusiasm to an otherwise mundane task.“He’s really, really enjoying his job”, said one impressed fan.Abbass is now inspiring other workers to join in the fun, with many now donning his trademark foam finger and providing fans with directions in creative ways. – Al Jazeera
Viral sensation ‘Metro Man’, 23-year-old Abubakr Abbass from Kenya, was a special guest at Friday night’s FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 match between England and the USA at Al Bayt Stadium. In a tweet Saturday, the Qatar 2022 organisers thanked him for his special contribution to transport operations during the World Cup. Abbass is seen in the picture with officials at the stadium. Abbass has emerged as a fan favourite – and accidental social media sensation – during the football World Cup in Qatar. Sitting on a tennis-umpire chair and armed with a large foam finger, he guides hundreds of fans visiting Souq Waqif to the metro station nearby with the help of his trusty megaphone. Abbass’s helpful advice – “Metro? This way. Metro? This way” – has now become a famous catchphrase.
Coach Hansi Flick yesterday laughed off suggestions he would lose his job if Germany crash out of the World Cup at the group stage for the second tournament in a row. Germany must beat Costa Rica today and hope Spain beat Japan to be sure of reaching the last 16.Flick said he had no plans to step down but said he knew the decision would not always be his to take. “Yes, from my side I can confirm (it won’t be my last game),” Flick said with a smile. “You never know what’s around the corner but I am looking forward to Germany’s home European Championships (in 2024). I have a contract until 2024. But that’s still a long way away.”Depending on other results, Germany may need to win by as many as eight goals to avoid a second-successive group stage exit, but Flick said thoughts of goal difference had not entered their mind despite Germany “not having everything in our own hands”.“I think it’s a little disrespectful to say we will score eight goals against Costa Rica. We would be happy just to win the game,” he said.Germany find themselves in this position because they suffered a shock defeat in their first match to Japan before snatching a draw with Spain. Flick insisted he did not feel under pressure ahead of the crucial match. “What is pressure? In this situation we are playing to go into the round of 16, it’s nice and that’s why we are here. “I don’t feel any pressure. I didn’t feel it after Japan and I don’t feel it now.”Flick revealed that Kai Havertz had been left out of the match against Spain as the Chelsea forward had a cold, not because of his disappointing performance in the defeat to Japan. “Kai had a cold and that’s why he didn’t play, it wasn’t to do with his performance,” he said.Flick said there were no fitness issues in his side and said forward Leroy Sane, whose appearance off the bench coincided with Germany’s best phase of the match against Spain, was a candidate to start today. On whether Niclas Fuellkrug, who scored Germany’s late equaliser against Spain as a substitute, would make his full international debut against Costa Rica.