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Fans in Qatar start to dream of 2022

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Doha: In four years' time, Qatar's Khalifa International Stadium will host a FIFA World Cup quarter-final, and on Tuesday, local fans had a glimpse of what lies in wait.

Qatar fan zone - Khalifa Stadium

Some 4,500 people packed out the stadium's fan zone as it showed France beating Belgium 1-0 in the 2018 FIFA World Cup semi-final in Russia, knowing that the clock is ticking for Qatar's World Cup in 2022.

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Atef, a 30-year-old local who was supporting Belgium, said he has enjoyed the tournament.

"It's competitive, it makes it more interesting, to see someone new in the World Cup," he said.

The game attracted people from all over Doha, with plenty of families in attendance.

Fans drawn from Qatar, Kenya, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan were glued to the screen, screaming and jumping at several near misses.

Popcorn and soft drink sellers moved among the crowd and people were still pouring in some 30 minutes after kick-off into the air-conditioned stadium.

Mohamed, a Qatari teacher was there to watch the match with his family, but was also thinking four years' ahead.

"I think we can make it better than Russia, because there have been more sports in Doha beforehand," he said.

Teenager Jassim from Bangladesh, said he cannot wait to watch games live in four years' time.

"This makes me so excited, I will go to games in 2022," said the 15-year-old.

The promotional booths set up in Russia have also received a steady stream of fans and as the 2018 edition approaches its climax, its obvious the footballing world is also casting its eyes on Qatar 2022.

Three other fan zones in Qatar are open throughout the tournament and each one offers a different experience.

Sources: AFP, FIFA via Getty Images