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Africa Sports News of Thursday, 4 February 2021

Source: qatar2022.qa

Eto: FIFA Club World Cup next big step in Qatar’s journey to 2022

Cameroon legend Samuel Eto’o has said that the FIFA Club World Cup which take place in Qatar from 4-11 February 2021 will mark a mark a big step in the country’s journey to host the FIFA World Cup come 2022.

Champions of five Confederations namely Al-Ahly (CAF), Bayern Munich (UEFA), Palmeiras (CONMEBOL), Tigres (CONCACAF) and Ulsan Hyundai (AFC) will join host club Al Duhail for the title of world club champion during the seven-day tournament. Auckland City, the representatives of OFC withdrew due to the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine measures established by the New Zealand.

Eto’o, a four-time African Player of the Year and an ambassador for the Supreme Committee for Legacy and Delivery has fond memories of the competition, which he won with Italian side Inter Milan in 2010 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

“During my playing career, I was very lucky to have had the opportunity not only to compete in this great competition but to win it with Inter Milan. My memories of the Club World Cup could not be better, as for the first time, I had the pleasure of playing in a final against a very beautiful African team, TP Mazembe.

“I had a lot of emotions for this match for both my home continent, Africa, and my duty to ensure victory for Inter. It was an honour to win the competition with Inter for the first time in the club’s history and to share this victory with my brothers from TP Mazembe.

“After the game, I went to the Mazembe dressing room, I stayed a while, and I shared the moment with their players. These are great memories for me, especially as I also won the Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament,” the Cameroonian was quoted by www.qatar2022.qa.

Due to his ambassadorial role, the 39-year old attended the 2019 edition of the FIFA Club World Cup also staged in Qatar, and recalls the exciting atmosphere with fans of the participating teams, a situation which won’t be the case this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The atmosphere in Qatar during the tournament was incredible and the games being played in some of the FIFA World Cup stadiums really added to the sense of occasion for both the players and the fans.

“To meet fans that had travelled from countries like Brazil, Mexico and England – all famous for their passion and love of football – to enjoy this special tournament and the many amazing experiences Qatar has to offer was incredible and a first look at what people can expect when the FIFA World Cup comes to the country in 2022.”

Despite the limited attendance due to global pandemic, Eto’o is upbeat the competition which will host matches at the Education City Stadium and Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium, both in Al Rayyan, will live up to expectations and set the tone for next year’s Mundial.

“While it’s a pity that the number of international fans attending this year’s tournament will be extremely limited due to the pandemic, I’m sure the local football fans will create a great atmosphere in the stadiums.

“Tournaments like this are really important for Qatar on its journey to hosting the World Cup in 2022, as it allows the country to not only get some invaluable experience of hosting a major event but to learn from it and make the necessary improvements to ensure the 1.5 million fans expected to travel to the country in 2022 for the World Cup have an incredible experience.”

Eto’o announced his retirement in 2019 after a trophy-laden career with spells Real Madrid, Barcelona, Mallorca, Espanyol (all in Spain), Inter Milan (Italy), Anzhi Makhackkala (Russia), Chelsea and Everton (both in England), Antalyaspor (Turkey) and Qatar SC (Qatar).

He featured in four FIFA World Cups with Cameroon (1998, 2002, 2010, 2014) as well as winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 2000 and 2002.

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