Give Andres Iniesta a football at his feet and he becomes a quintessential magician as was witnessed on that July evening of 2010 in Johannesburg when he netted the match-winner in extra-time to give his nation Spain their maiden FIFA World Cup win.
If the first African FIFA World Cup was blessed to witness the Barcelona legend at his peak, the first West Asian one might well get the privilege of hosting the man, now retired from international football, as a guest in Qatar in 2022.
The 36-year-old playmaker expressed his desire to visit the host nation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, while addressing media at 2022 FIFA World Cup venue Khalifa International Stadium after producing a midfield masterclass to enable his side Vissel Kobe claim all three points against Chinese superclub Guangzhou Evergrande in Group G of the ongoing 2020 AFC Champions League.
His man-of-the-match winning effort helped his side to keep its perfect all-win record intact – the J.League side now have nine points from three matches and have qualified for the knockout stages of the tournament.
“It (the stadium) looks impressive. Though not as a player, I am looking forward to come to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup. It may be one of the best ever,” said the four-time UEFA Champions winner. That could well be the time when Iniesta gets his friend and comrade-in-arms during many major tournaments for club and country to show him around Qatar.
Xavi Hernandez, a resident of Qatar since 2015 and an ambassador for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, had formed a lethal midfield partnership with the J. League superstar for both Barcelona and Spain with the duo winning seven La Liga, four UEFA Champion League and one FIFA World Cup titles together.
Iniesta admitted that Covid protocols would not enable him to catch up with the Al Sadd coach during the 2020 AFC Champions League. “I know Xavi for a long time. He is a very good friend and we were in contact before I travelled to Qatar. Of course I will not be able to meet him in Qatar this time because of the circumstances,” said Iniesta.
Iniesta also complimented the tactical nous of his long-time senior professional at Barcelona. “I hear that he is doing well as a coach. In the future, he will be one of the best coaches in the game,” said Iniesta. (qfa.qa)
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