Qatar affords the chance to look at two World Cup matches in someday

With all eight stadiums situated inside a 35-mile radius of downtown Doha, the 2022 World Cup is probably the most compact in historical past. Throughout the group stage, this lets you watch 4 video games a day.

Potential, however not allowed.

To keep away from congestion and make extra tickets obtainable to extra individuals, FIFA restricted followers and media to 2 video games a day, with a four-hour window between kick-off. Nevertheless it’s nonetheless fairly good, proper? Watching 4 of the perfect groups on the earth on the identical day?

Brazilian fans jump for a photo along Qatar's Doha Corniche on Wednesday.

Brazilian followers leap for a photograph alongside Qatar’s Doha Corniche on Wednesday.

(Ariel Shalit/Related Press)

And with public transport, free for World Cup guests, serving all eight stadiums, will probably be a breeze, Qataris mentioned.

However then the Qataris have already disowned all the pieces from human rights and the sale of beer to bus timetables and the menu within the media café. So perhaps this was one other empty promise.

I made a decision to search out out. Armed with nothing however media credentials and no familiarity with Qatar’s metro system, I set off on Wednesday to look at Germany play Japan on the Khalifa Worldwide Stadium at 4pm adopted by Canada v Belgium lower than 12 miles away at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium at 4pm. 10pm

I can see Khalifa from my house in Doha’s Al Rayyan district, in order that appeared like a logical start line. I left simply after noon and the nice stroll to the stadium confirmed one thing I’ve heard for the reason that begin of the World Cup, primarily that the match has produced little in the best way of buzz and pleasure exterior the stadiums or the fanfest on the Corniche , the winding bay waterfront Doha pageant.

Throughout my 30-minute stroll, I solely met one individual sporting a German nationwide group shirt. I noticed no flags, no face paint, and nothing resembling a march to the match. The stadium’s parking heaps have been empty three hours earlier than kickoff.

Japan's players celebrate after upsetting Germany at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar

Japanese gamers rejoice after upsetting Germany 2-1 on the Khalifa Worldwide Stadium in Doha, Qatar on Wednesday.

(Eugene Hoshiko/Related Press)

However the match itself, which led to a 2-1 victory for Japan, was worthy of a World Cup. Germany took the lead early on from a penalty kick by Manchester Metropolis’s Ilkay Gundogan, awarded by Japanese goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda. Gonda was sensible afterwards although, making eight saves, which allowed Japan to salvage a few targets late within the second half.

The primary got here from Ritsu Doan, who scored from a rebound, and eight minutes later Takuma Asano gave Japan the result in keep, operating in from Ko’s lengthy free kick Itakura fights defender Nico Schlotterbeck, then beating German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer into the roof of the online from a troublesome angle on the backline.

The defeat was Germany’s third in 4 World Cup matches since they received the title in Brazil eight years in the past.

“It is a huge disappointment for us,” mentioned German coach Hansi Flick. “With out factors in the present day, we’re below strain now.”

Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu, who got here and went out and in of the press room to applause from Japanese journalists, mentioned he hoped the victory demonstrates ‘how Japanese gamers are creating and bettering’.

Outdoors the stadium have been media buses that, with a slight detour, would get me to the Canada-Belgium match sooner than the Metro. However as a result of I am a person of the individuals, I made my method to the prepare station, led by dozens of foam-using volunteers “We’re No. 1” fingers to level the best way to the station.

The Doha Metro is simply 3 1/2 years previous and covers simply over 47 miles. It has three strains and 37 stations served by trains able to speeds of 60 mph, making them among the many quickest driverless trains on the earth. The stations are enormous and spotlessly clear, though Wednesday’s crush of World Cup followers left the trains crammed greater than a Tokyo subway automotive throughout rush hour.

My journey took me from Sports activities Metropolis, the penultimate cease on the Gold Line, to Msheireb, the place I transferred to the Inexperienced Line heading to the Mall of Qatar.

World Cup fans stood in a crowded subway train in Qatar on Wednesday.

World Cup followers stood in a crowded subway prepare in Qatar on Wednesday.

(Kevin Baxter/Los Angeles Instances)

Qataris love procuring malls, and the large three-story Mall of Qatar, which sits subsequent to the stadium, is their flagship, with 520 shops unfold throughout 5.4 million sq. ft, sufficient area for 93 pitches from common soccer. The Villaggio Mall close to my house is only a fraction of that measurement however has an ice rink, theme park, and a ceiling painted to seem like the sky above a river with gondolas.

The journey from stadium to stadium took 42 minutes and from the mall it was a 30 minute stroll to the media entrance permitting me to get to my seat about an hour earlier than kick off.

Canada performed in a World Cup for the primary time in 36 years and confirmed some jitters early within the match, searching for the right move as an alternative of settling for a great one. Nonetheless, he had an opportunity to take the lead from a penalty kick in 10th minute, however Alphonso Davies’ effort was weak and Belgian goalkeeper Thibault Courtois choked it down, turning into the primary Belgian goalkeeper to cease a penalty kick within the World Cup since 1966.

Michy Batshuayi made Davies’ mistake much more painful, scoring within the forty fourth minuteth minute to get Belgium the one aim they would want for a 1-0 win. Canada have performed 4 World Cup matches of their historical past and are nonetheless searching for their first level and first aim.

Canadian Steven Vitoria battles for the ball with Belgian Michy Batshuayi

Canada’s Steven Vitoria battles for the ball with Belgium’s Michy Batshuayi, proper, throughout a World Cup match on the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha, Qatar on Wednesday.

(Natacha Pisarenko / Related Press)

After the sport, I went downstairs for a humiliating train known as “the combined zone,” which is frequent at worldwide soccer matches and the Olympic Video games. The way in which it really works is that journalists are herded into a big room and compelled to face behind meter-high obstacles like cows on their method to slaughter. To get from their dressing room to the group bus, gamers need to stroll throughout the room, however they’re on the opposite aspect of the obstacles. That is the one obtainable match day availability that members of the media have with gamers, who’re free to cease by and reply questions.

Or not.

Most gamers do not cease. To dissuade anybody who even considered asking Gareth Bale a query after final Monday’s draw with the USA, the Welsh captain was guided by means of the combined zone by a employed muscle within the type of a burly safety guard.

The Canadians, as you can in all probability have guessed, have been far more cooperative.

“The largest stage on the earth,” mentioned defender Steven Vitoria, certainly one of a number of Canadians who gave interviews. “We did not come right here to play effectively and lose. We need to play effectively and win. However we’re heading in the right direction. There’s lots to be pleased with.”

The return journey on the subway appeared faster and coming dwelling within the cool of the desert morning slightly than the scorching solar below which I had set off was far more nice. After I put the important thing within the door, it was simply after 2:30. It was 14 hours a day throughout which I noticed 4 groups, two stadiums, two penalties, 4 targets and made a few prepare journeys. It was as straightforward because the Qataris had promised.

I assume this time they have been telling the reality.