Asian Cup kicks off in Qatar
The opening match will be preceded by a grand opening ceremony, with organisers pleased to welcome the spotlight for the first time since Qatar was selectied to host the World Cup in 2022.
The dress rehearsal will allow local organisers a chance to practice the hosting of a globally significant event, while also offering Qatari players much needed experience.
Dealing with home pressure will be the top priority for Bruno Metsu’s Qatar going into the opener.
“The pressure on our team is very high, especially as Qatar won the rights to host the World Cup in 2022.
“The players want to show something to Qatar and to the world,” said Metsu.
Uzbek hitman Alexander Geynrikh has added a touch of spice to the encounter, warning Qatari goalkeeper Qasem Burhan his team were well prepared ahead of the encounter.
The 26-year-old Geynrikh declared that Uzbekistan were comfortable, adding that Burhan needed to watch out.
“We feel quite comfortable and we have prepared well for the first match,” he said.
“Burhan is one of the leaders of the Qatar team but tomorrow life will be difficult for him.”
Geynrikh is one of the goal-getting lynchpins of Vadim Abramov’s team and is likely to pair up with Maksim Shatskikh upfront.
“Qatar are a strong opponent and I have played them before,” continued Geynrikh.
“The team has good defence and is quick in attacks.
“But we will try everything to get the desired result. There is no football player in this world who doesn’t want to win.”
The Uzbek said Qatari striker Sebastian Suria would prove to be the dangerman.
“He is a talented player who can score. We have to be careful about him.”
The match kicks off at 19:15 local time at the Khalifa Stadium.
Fans arrive in Qatar
Qatari hotels are reporting a spike in occupancy ahead of the AFC Asian Cup opening ceremony.
All budget hotels are expected to be fully booked by Saturday.
“We have only a few rooms left,” said a Qatari official.
“Right now you can walk in and we will give you a room, but not tomorrow.”
The largest influx of fans is estimated to be from Saudi Arabia to watch the Sons of the Desert in action.
“Some of them have come in their cars,” said the official. “But there are others who have even flown in with their families.
“We are booked 100 per cent since Wednesday itself,” another hotel official was quoted as saying.
The AFC Asian Cup Qatar Local Organising Committee said the visa-on-arrival system at the Doha International Airport was working well.
“The on-arrival visa system introduced exclusively for the visitors who want to watch the tourney is working very well,” said Hilal Al Mohannadi of the Local Organising Committee told the Peninsular newspaper.
“Since the launch of the visa system we have been getting a number of applications from football fans from the GCC states, Iran, Iraq and several other Asian countries, including China and Australia.”
Also in the Middle East today, City.Mobi is celebrating the success of its new city guide to Doha.
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