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Annabi need a loyal fan base

THE Qatar national football team keeps itself busy throughout the year by playing friendlies and attending camps besides competing in official matches, but it does not have a loyal fan group yet.

Matches against Gulf rivals catch the attention of Qatar’s fans the most, but it is quite long since Al Annabi have played in front of a sellout crowd at home.

The Qatar Football Association (QFA) takes a group of randomly-picked fans for the national team’s high-profile overseas fixtures, with the captain of a top Qatari club’s cheerleading team often being entrusted with the task of selecting them.

A QFA official said it had chalked out a plan to create a fan base.

“We had charted a plan to build a fan base, though of a modest number to begin with. The idea was to shortlist the loyal fans of various clubs, and give them the opportunity to attend all matches and interact with our players on a frequent basis,” said the official, who wished to remain anonymous.

“Al Rayyan boast several national fans while Ahli have done extremely well in taking on board many expatriate supporters from the Indian and Filipino communities. We thought of strengthening the bonding by, say, a player attending the birthday party of a fan or his family member.

“We thought it would work well. But somehow, it didn’t materialise and we continued to pick fans randomly. I don’t think they’ve connected with our team in the desired way,” added the official.

Lack of enough supporters at venues is a cause for concern for the Qatar Stars League as well. The 2022 FIFA World Cup’s local organising committee will also like to see a much stronger support base for Qatar’s national team and clubs after being criticised by the Western media, which often said poor crowd at venues was a reflection of a lack of football culture in the country. 

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