DURO’S DOHA DIARY
Breel Donald Embolo scored Switzerland’s only goal that earned Cameroon opening game defeat at the ongoing World Cup here in Qatar. Understandably, Embolo, 25, who plays his club football for Monaco in France, is a Cameroonian who migrated with his family to Switzerland. And so, when Embolo struck three minutes into the second half at Al Janoub Stadium, he decided not to add injury to the pains of his ‘countrymen’ by celebrating. He stood with arms raised while his Swiss teammates including Nigeria-born Manuel Akanji and Noah Okafor danced round him in celebration of their winning start to their Qatar 2022 campaign.
Sadly for Cameroon who have now lost their last eight World Cup matches dating back to 2002, the defeat dampened the celebration that would have followed the award presented to their legend, Roger Milla, by FIFA. Milla was honoured before kick-off of the match as the oldest goal-scorer in World Cup history when he scored in Indomitable Lions 6-1 drubbing by Russia at USA’94 aged 42 years.
Kunle Solaja’s Home Truth to Swedish Television
Ibikunle Solaja is Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and the country’s most capped FIFA World Cup journalist who has attended all the tournaments from Italia ’90 to date. He is covering his ninth World Cup here in Qatar. The former Editor of Kick Off Magazine and Soccer Star is in a special class of football writers recognised by FIFA. Apart from also authoring several books on the game and its administration at home and beyond, Solaja is a moving encyclopaedia on anything football. With this background, some Swedish television reporters doing hatchet job on Qatar thought they had found a willing tool to use to drive home their script of rubbishing the 2022 World Cup host country over its stance on migrant workers and LGBTQ. They asked the Nigerian of his opinion on Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers and why gays, lesbians and people of other queer orientations were not allowed to freely express themselves here. True to type, the Ikenne-born journalist, instead of answering the question, gave the reporters lessons in proper behaviour and how to respect the feelings of a host nation. He asked the television reporters why migrants and others from parts of the world are treated with disdain in Western Europe? Solaja insisted that until there is better treatment for blacks and other races, Europeans should not be asking Qatar to put aside its culture and accept LGBTQ as a way of life. By the time he finished with the television reporters, Solaja turned to this diarist and said: “I know they will not publish or televise this home truth because it is not what they wanted to hear from me.”
Early Figures Suggesting Qatar 2022 Getting Global View
With the orchestrated campaign launched by western media against the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, one had expected that attendance at matches would be scanty. Figures from opening games of all the groups are suggesting otherwise. Even figures from global viewing audience are not different from any of the last three editions of the tournament.
In short, FIFA confirmed yesterday that opening match attracted more viewers than the same match four years ago in Russia. It stated that half of viewing audience in Brazil watched hosts Qatar mauled 2-0 by Ecuador. France’s opening match with Australia on Tuesday attracted the best global audience of the year so far despite over 67,000 fans were inside the Al Bayt Stadium to witness Qatar play their debut World Cup match.
The FIFA World Cup is proving as popular as ever around the world with preliminary figures for the opening match of the 2022 tournament in Qatar showing an increase in viewers compared to the corresponding match in Russia four years ago.
For example, the opening game between Qatar and Ecuador on Sunday, 20 November was watched by an average of 3.3 million viewers, with a peak audience of 3.6 million, in Ecuador. This represented a 109% increase in viewership of the opening game in the country compared to the highest rating in the last two editions of the FIFA World Cup.
Senegalese Cursing Bremen Player Who Injured Mane
This is not good moments for Senegalese fans here in Doha for the World Cup. The mood in camp has been worsened by the defeat suffered by the African champions in their first game against Holland on Monday. Almost every one of them believe the Teranga Lions are playing half of their strength because of the absence of their inspirational forward, Sadio Mane. The 30-year-old Bayern Munich star who switched to the German Bundesliga club from Liverpool last summer, is not here because of the injury he suffered in, perhaps, his last game before leaving for Doha in the clash with Werder Bremen. Now, Senegalese here are cursing the Bremen player who ‘killed’ off half of the Teranga Lions’ strength. A Senegalese top sports journalist friend of yours sincerely narrated the mood thus yesterday: “We knew that without (Sadio) Mane, our chances are slim here. See what happened in our match against The Netherlands. There was no that cutting-edge finishing Mane is known for. That Bremen player who did this to our team will rot in hell!” stressed the angry journo.
The former Liverpool forward was named African Player of the Year for his efforts and finished second behind Karim Benzema in the 2022 Ballon d’Or vote. He was also expected to retain his African award. All that is now history.
Switzerland 1-0 Cameroon
Uruguay 0-0 S’Korea
Portugal 3-1 Ghana
Brazil – Serbia
Wales Vs Iran-11am
Qatar Vs Senegal-2pm
Holland Vs Ecuador-5pm
England Vs USA-8pm