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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Asian games football: Qatar v. Thailand (quarter finals)

Qataris celebrate after their teams first goal
As we arrived at the AL Gharaffa stadium in Doha earlier this evening, the previous match had just come to a halt and a couple of thousand Iraqi supporters were going wild, chanting "Iraq" over and over again. Eventually, they started to move away and we nabbed a centre field seat, jammed our free Qtel/Qatar hats over our heads and settled down to watch the match.

We thought this was going to be a tough match for Qatar, and indeed they nearly conceded a goal immediately. For the first ten minutes the Thais seemed to be all over the Qatari team, who were nervous and seemed unable to coordinate as a team. The right-winger on the Thai team seemed particularly dangerous, and we were sure he would end up scoring a goal.

However, Qatar gradually pulled themselves together, and, 26 minutes into the match, the ball rebounded off the Thai goal keeper and was tapped back in by Khalfan Ibrahim.

After this, the Qatar team outplayed the Thais, although they had some help with some A narrow miss for the Qatarisspectacular saves from their goal keeper. At times they seemed to pass the ball with ease around their smaller opponents. At 50 minutes Khalfan Ibrahim scored again in exactly the same manner as before. A minute later Abdullah Obaid repeated the feat and the crowd went wild.

It was nice to see a (large) stadium half full - there are only about a 120,000 native Qataris, and if a bomb had gone off a fairly sizable percentage of the male population would have disappeared. The Thais were also well represented, and at first were loouder than the Qataris, although they were rather more subdued in the second half. After the first few minutes, Qatar played well and fast, and to get a world class team from such a small population is a real achievement. Hopefully, they can repeat their win in the semi-finals. I'll be there watching to see if they can do so.

The teams line up before the match

See also: Qatar Football and Khalfan Ibrahim: A name to remember

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