Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said at the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup on Sunday that the event brings together people of all nationalities and beliefs.
“From Qatar, from the Arab world, I welcome everyone to the World Cup 2022,” he said in a speech in a tent-shaped stadium. “How lovely it is that people can put aside what divides them to celebrate their diversity and what brings them together all at once.”
A show unfolded on the pitch, featuring three camels, American actor Morgan Freeman and a performance of a new tournament song called Dreamers featuring singer Jungkook of K-pop boy band BTS, alongside Qatari singer Fahad Al-Kubaisi, Reuters reported.
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and the presidents of Egypt, Turkey, and Algeria, as well as the United Nations Secretary-General, are among leaders at the tent-shaped stadium ahead of the first match between the hosts and Ecuador.
For the first time, a direct commercial flight from Tel Aviv to Doha landed in Qatar on Sunday despite the absence of formal bilateral ties, in a deal brokered by FIFA to carry both Palestinians and Israelis to the tournament.
The Gulf state’s Deputy Prime Minister Khalid Al Attiyah, in remarks on state media, said Qatar was reaping benefits of years of “hard work and sound planning.”
On Saturday, FIFA’s Infantino rounded on European critics of Qatar, saying engagement was the only way to improve rights, while Doha has also pointed to labor reforms.
Afghan cricket team moves its homeground to the UAE
Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) and the Emirates Cricket Board have entered into a five-year mutual cooperation agreement that will see the ACB host its home fixtures in the United Arab Emirates.
The five-year agreement will allow ACB to utilize UAE’s world-class venues for its home fixtures.
In 2016, Shahid Vijay Singh Pathik Sports Complex in Greater Noida became the home ground for the Afghanistan national cricket team after they previously played out of Sharjah, in the UAE.
According to the ACB, Afghanistan will play a series of three-T20I matches annually, against the UAE, for the duration of the agreement.
In return, the Emirates Cricket Board will provide valuable logistic support to the Afghanistan Cricket Board, including visa assistance and office space.
Naseeb Khan, the ACB CEO, acknowledged the cooperation between both countries and expressed his confidence that this fruitful agreement will serve and benefit both parties’ future goals and ambitions.
Mubashir Usmani, the General Secretary of the Emirates Cricket Board said: “Both parties, the Emirates Cricket Board and the Afghanistan Cricket Board enjoy long and cordial relations and we are happy to support the ACB in ensuring that they have a home for their cricket.
“We are also thankful to the Afghanistan Cricket Board for agreeing to play a series of T20I matches against UAE Team each year. This will provide our UAE team with invaluable exposure and help in their development.”
Messi magic guides relieved Argentina past Mexico
Lionel Messi kept his dream of winning his first World Cup alive by rifling in the opening goal in Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Mexico in World Cup Group C, proving he was far from done in the tournament.
The Argentine, competing in his fifth World Cup at age 35, has won every other major title in his career but has failed to lift the coveted trophy despite making the final in 2014, Reuters reported.
But his 64th minute strike that was followed by substitute Enzo Fernandez’s sublime effort three minutes from time, reignited their hopes of advancing past the group stage after their shock 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia in their opener.
Messi, who equalled Diego Maradona’s Argentina record of 21 matches and eight goals at the World Cup, was nowhere to be seen for more than an hour before picking up an Angel Di Maria pass, finding just enough space and rifling in from 20 meters.
Substitute Fernandez made sure of the victory when he curled a superb shot into the top corner.
Argentina, on three points, can guarantee progress with a win over Poland, top on four, in their final game on Wednesday.
“Today starts another World Cup for Argentina,” Messi said. “I tell people the same thing, that they continue to believe. Today we did what we had to do.
“We had no other choice. We had to win so that we depended only on ourselves.
“The first half we didn’t play as we should and in the second, when we calmed down, we started to play the ball better and until the goal we went back to being what we are,” he said.
Mexico, who have now lost all four World Cup clashes with Argentina, have one point and must beat Saudi Arabia, on three, to have any chance of continuing their run of making the last 16 in the last seven World Cups, but even that might not be enough.
With the prospect of an Argentina elimination, tensions were high on and off the ball in a scrappy first half but with the two sets of fans creating an electric atmosphere in the stadium, Reuters reported.
Neither team wanted to commit too many players forward and apart from a free kick by Mexico’s Luis Chavez in the ninth minute that sailed past the goalmouth there were few chances.
Mexico’s high pressing game stifled most of their opponents’ attack and Messi struggled to find any space to maneuver in a congested midfield.
Apart from a Lautaro Martinez effort that was well off the mark and another from Messi, Argentina were toothless up front.
But in a major blow to Mexico, skipper Andres Guardado, a veteran of five World Cups who until then had been a commanding presence in midfield, had to be taken off injured in the 42nd.
The Mexicans still carved out two more chances with Alexis Vega before the break but the tables would turn in the second half.
The South Americans looked more determined after the break and their captain and talisman dragged them out of trouble with his second goal of the tournament.
The stadium erupted in cheers once more with Fernandez’s late strike which sealed Argentina’s first win in the tournament and rekindled Messi’s hopes of a first ever World Cup title that would match that of the late Maradona from 1986.
Qatar eliminated from World Cup after Netherlands and Ecuador draw
Qatar became the first team to be eliminated from the World Cup on Friday after Group A rivals the Netherlands and Ecuador drew 1-1.
The Dutch and Ecuador each have four points, Senegal have three. Qatar are without a point after they lost their opening game 2-0 to Ecuador and then went down 3-1 to Senegal earlier on Friday.
“If you expected us to go very far in this tournament, then it will be a disappointment,” Qatar coach Félix Sánchez said before his team was officially out. “Our goal was to be competitive.”
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