A grand reception marked the return of the Qatar national football team to Doha yesterday evening, as thousands of people gathered along the Corniche to catch a glimpse of the new kings of Asian football.
And the joy of the waiting crowds knew no bounds when an open-top bus carried the players on a parade through the Corniche, giving the team the heroes' welcome they richly deserved.
Earlier, the Al-Annabi (Maroons), as the Qatar team is known as, arrived in Doha from Oman and was welcomed by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamd al-Thani and several other dignitaries.
The Corniche saw huge celebrations, marked by a large crowd and convoys. PICTURE: Jayan Orma
Fans seen on every vehicles waving the national flag. PICTURE: Jayan Orma
The Qatar team was crowned the Asian Cup champions on Friday after it defeated Japan 3-1 in the final in Abu Dhabi.
As word of yesterday's grand reception spread, thousands of people - both citizens and expatriates - headed for the Corniche to celebrate the famous victory and express their love for Qatar's football superstars.
Among the crowd were several fans from Oman and Kuwait waving their national flags alongside those of Qatar.
The crowds included people from various walks of life, of different ages, families with children, etc, who waited patiently for the bus to arrive. The entire stretch of the Corniche was teeming with people from late afternoon.
Many could be seen carrying the national flag, while others displayed congratulatory messages and banners in a joyous and jubilant atmosphere
Roads leading to the Corniche saw heavy from late in the afternoon, and traffic patrols were posted at key spots to manage the flow of vehicles. On its part, the Ministry of Interior stressed the need for people to follow rules and regulations during the celebrations and co-operate with the traffic police and security forces.
While many people waited along the Corniche, several others celebrated the occasion by driving down the road in specially decorated vehicles as well as convoys of bikes and vintage cars.
Among the revellers were a large number of children, and the occasion was marked by music, cheerful faces and a feast of colours.
An air show showcasing some dazzling skills made the celebrations even more special, as did the scintillating fireworks display.
And what a moment it was when the heroes finally arrived. The crowds erupted in joy and cheered on the players as the convoy with the open-top bus reached the Corniche around 8.30pm.
The crowds on both the sides of the street greeted the players and the players waved back with equal warmth and happiness. There were also scenes of fans crying with joy and some of them said it was the best gift for Qatar at the right time.
“We are the winners. We have shown the world that we are capable of achieving exceptional feats even in the face of adversity. This is a God-given gift for my nation and I am so happy for this team who made us all proud,” said a fan.
“We have all been waiting to meet our heroes. They are the gems of this nation. We are here today to show our love and respect for our heroes. They will be a great motivation and encouragement for our younger generations and this spirit will be replicated in our future activities,” said another national.
An expatriate who had come to the Corniche along with his entire family said it was a great achievement for Qatar, especially when the country was getting ready to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. “Facing a blockade for more than 19 months and playing against the siege nations in one of those countries was a great challenge for Qatar. Winning the matches against two of the blockading countries in a convincing manner and winning the Cup is an exceptional feat by Team Qatar. This will be a great boost for the country in its preparations for the World Cup,” he added.
Qatar Post issues commemorative stamps
Qatar Post has issued commemorative stamps in a special edition bearing the image of the players of the national football team, in addition to issuing a postcard to mark the achievement of the team.