Saturday, May 18, 2013

Emir Cup 2013

Wow, it's been a busy weekend. Earlier this week the Emir’s Cup had been touring around Doha and it visited my workplace, the organizers then gave out tickets to the game and I managed to get one. A couple of friends were also going but they pulled out at the last minute but I grabbed my Al Sadd team scarf and went anyway (Al Sadd were playing Al Rayyan). I had a good time the last time I went.

So I got there more than an hour before kickoff and there were reasonably-sized crowds wandering around the outside of the stadium.

Just as I got up to the gate the police shut the gate! There were still probably 40 or 50 of us in line to get in. I immediately went to the next gate and it was already shut as well. It was starting to look like the same problem that occurred during the Asian Cup finale a couple of years ago, when thousands of ticketholders were locked out, including my friends and I. I started going around the stadium seeing if there was another gate open. There were still hundreds and hundreds of people who hadn't gotten in yet so if all the gates were closed this was going to get messy. Thankfully on the other side of the stadium the gates were still open so I managed to get in but had to sit in the second-tier. (I later found out through Twitter reports that in the end hundreds of people still did not manage to get in.)

The stadium was definitely packed. There was the odd section that had a few empty seats but I would say the stadium was 98%+ occupied. Here's some pictures from around an hour before kickoff and already it was pretty crowded.

When I arrived in my section it was almost completely empty but within 30 minutes it was full as police directed the crowds to the second-tier.

Dignitaries arrived wearing their bishts. His Highness arrived later, just before kickoff, but unfortunately all of my pictures were too blurry.

Al Rayyan fans were really hyped up, waving banners and flags. Check out the size of this Flag they unrolled:

Al Sadd fans unrolled a smaller flag. The Arabic says “Hamad”, His Highness’s name.

Anyway the game started off strong. Al Sadd scored but it was called offside, Al Rayyan then scored, then Al Rayyan were awarded a penalty and scored again, then Al Sadd had an amazing chance that we can believe missed. And this was all in the first 10 minutes!

After that things settled a bit. Al Rayyan were the stronger team in the first half but couldn't score again so at halftime the score was 2-0.

In the second-half Al Sadd upped their game and managed to get an early goal. I put a lot of pressure on but in the end it was to no avail and Al Rayyan won 2-1.

There was much cheering and rejoicing of course, His Highness handed out the trophy, and Al Rayyan celebrated for while.

It was a good match, and everyone was generally in good spirits. No hooliganism or other hassle that you hear about in soccer matches in Europe. Families and kids were there enjoying the evening. I had a nice time. Shame to find out about the entrance problems afterward.

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