Thousands of fans welcomed Qatar’s Al-Annabi home at the team’s open training session in Doha on Sunday.
Held at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, the Qatar national team returned to its home ground after a four-month training camp in Europe.
Qatar’s Captain Hassan Al-Haydos, who was seen donning a Palestinian Keffiyeh or scarf, was gifted an inauguration football by the Qatar Women’s Sports Committee ahead of the session.
Fans, predominantly young children, cheered on the rest of the team as they entered the pitch, greeting spectators and taking selfies.
The Asian champions started with simple warm-ups and stretches before they worked on ball handling, passing, and shooting short-range and long-range goals.
Qatar’s men also sent a solidarity message at the Indonesia football game where 125 football fans were killed with a poster titled, “Our hearts are with you.”
Head coach Felix Sanchez spoke to the media, confident of the team’s preparations ahead of the closing World Cup debut.
“It’s very nice to be back in Qatar. Yeah, it’s been a long time, but I think that’s what we had planned. And I think that was what was best for us, to be able to train in good weather conditions. So we are quite confident that it was a good preparation,” said Sanchez.
The Spanish coach also discussed the several friendlies played in Austria as part of preparations for the World Cup, believing that the team will be at its best in time for the upcoming tournament.
“…hopefully we’re going to be at our best level on November 20. The last two friendly games were obviously a test for us. Not every game you can perform at the level that you wish for, but I think in the second game we showed some improvements,” Sanchez added.
“When you play these competitive games, if you don’t start at your best level or you concede, then it’s hard to come back into the game. So we need to learn from that. Hopefully we will not make that kind of mistake at the World Cup. We are confident to play at our best level.”
Before Ecuador takes on Qatar in the region’s first-ever World Cup match, the Maroons will continue to face local teams for the final preparatory sessions.