With just 24 hours to go until the opening match of the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019, Al Sadd’s Akram Afif and manager, Xavi surprised hundreds of fans at the Adidas store in Doha Festival City Mall and gave them an exclusive glimpse of the FIFA Club World Cup trophy.
The pair – both Adidas athletes – were in high spirits as they greeted fans from across the globe, all of whom have descended on Doha for the latest instalment of the world’s biggest club football competition.
Al Sadd, the Qatari Stars League Champions, will kick off their FIFA Club World Cup campaign tomorrow evening against OFC Champions League winners, Hienghène Sport; and whilst most Al Sadd players will be making their tournament debuts, Xavi will be hoping to make it a spectacular hat-trick of wins, having picked up the trophy as a player with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011. The Spaniard has fond memories of the competition and scored the second goal in the 2011 final where his Barcelona side recorded a rampant 4-0 victory over then Copa Libertadores holders, Santos.
“For us, as a Club, it is an honour and a privilege to play in the Fifa Club World Cup as the host team. We know that many people will be watching the Tournament so we hope to deliver a strong performance and to compete as best we can. From a personal view, I have very good memories of this competition, so it’s very nice for me to be back in this tournament. although it’s now as a coach and not a player. I really hope that all football supporters, here in Qatar and all around the World, enjoy this Football celebration”.
The opportunity to meet one of the most decorated footballers of all time was a moment many of those in attendance will cherish; Jordan Diego, a 10-year-old playing his football at Evolution Soccer Academy in Qatar said “It was so amazing to be able to see the trophy at the store, and I was really happy to meet Xavi and Akram Afif. They both signed my shirt, it was a moment that myself and my team mates will never forget!”
For Afif, it has also been a year to remember. The 23-year-old played a key role in leading Al Sadd to domestic glory winning the Qatari Stars League and the Qatari Super Cup and was a pivotal player in his nation’s success at the AFC Asian Cup 2019. Akram has also recently been crowned Asian Player of the year, another title to add to an already very impressive year of football.
“It was a pleasure of mine to come down to the Adidas store today and meet so many fans. It just shows how passionate we are in Qatar about football, and it’s always amazing to meet people with as much love for the game like me. I’m very excited to play in the tournament, it’s a great opportunity to show how hard we work as a club, and to represent local football here in Qatar. Today was the perfect way to kick off the tournament, thank you to everyone who came down to meet us!”
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