DOHA: Ahead of the 2021 Amir Cup final on Friday, head coach of finalist teams Laurent Blanc (Al Rayyan) and Xavi Hernandez (Al Sadd) met at the Al Thumama Stadium on Wednesday.
Al Rayyan boss Blanc, FIFA World Cup winner with France in 1998, and Xavi, 2010 winner with Spain, toured the venue and gave their thoughts on the stadium.
For ex-Barcelona star Xavi, the match will have a sense of familiarity. The former midfielder will be taking part in his fourth Qatar 2022 stadium inauguration. He played for Al Sadd during the inaugurations of Khalifa International and Al Janoub before coaching the team for the opening of Ahmad Bin Ali.
“This stadium is wonderful,” said Xavi. “For the fans, the players, for me as a coach, this is spectacular. I’m proud to be part of the opening of this stadium. We previously did this for Khalifa International, Al Janoub, Ahmad Bin Ali and now Al Thumama. This stadium also reflects something very traditional for Qataris in the gahfiya head ware.”
The 41-year-old, who is also a Qatar Legacy Ambassador, spoke highly of Al Thumama’s design and construction. The stadium resembles the ‘gahfiya’ head cap worn by men and boys across the Arab world. Its architect is local man Ibrahim M. Jaidah.
“To win a World Cup in your own country is really a fantastic experience,” Blanc said.
“You still think about it ten, 20, even 30 years later. Even if you don’t think about it, people make you think about it. Qatar is about to experience the World Cup and I hope there are lots of people that come to see it,” added the Frenchman.