Mohamed Salah hailed the historic victory on the bench. It was not the wizards who raved the world at Liverpool, no: an unknown namesake was in Qatar's squad. So far, the football in the emirate is not. But after a very surprising 1: 0 (0: 0) in Switzerland on Wednesday, the host of the World Cup 2022 feels like never before.
"My boys are celebrating in the cabin rightly," said coach Felix Sanchez proudly. No more than 4170 spectators had lost their way to the Stadio di Cornaredo in Lugano to see listless players from the B series of the Swiss World Cup knockout rounds against Qatar. For Sanchez, it was a thunderclap: "It was an opportunity for us to show that we can compete with players who are among the best in the world."
It was only a few minutes ago that Akram Afif had completed a counterattack in the 86th minute very elegantly. Only a climber, then he put the ball past the goalkeeper and inserted a casual. He celebrated the winning goal for number 96 of the Fifa World Ranking List against the number 8 with a jump over the gang.
Something had been shaken, as the losers were shocked to see. From a "cataract" was on Thursday in the Swiss media read, "sack-weak" was the team, it was a fiasco, a revelatory oath and more. For Qatar, however, it was a step on the way to the declared goal. "We have a young team and grow together," said Sanchez, "these games enable us to reach the level we need in 2022."
A way to competitiveness has recently blocked the World Football Association Fifa. Players will not be allowed to change the association in the future like clubs, a request from Cape Verde, supported by Qatar, was rejected. Qatar had created a multinational world-class team in 2015 for the Handball World Cup in their own country, which will not be possible in 2022.
So the emirate takes other paths. Switzerland presented an interesting offer to Qatar, which also includes a "second leg" before the home World Cup. In addition, the country is trying to sprinkle the few football talents it has with financial tailwind in Europe.
Success? Low. At the Belgian branch AS Eupen, run by the hyper-modern athlete-maker Aspire Academy Doha, the Qatari talents have not played since their promotion to the top league. Akram Afif belongs to Villarreal but is loaned home. A player of international class, let alone a legionary in a reasonably prestigious league, does not exist.