Inter Milan icon Javier Zanetti praises Qatar’s cutting-edge preparations for 2022

Argentina and Inter Milan legend Javier Zanetti expects Qatar to host a ‘cutting-edge’ FIFA World Cup™ in 2022.

Zanetti, currently a Vice-President for Inter, was in Doha recently to attend a sports diplomacy workshop organised by the Josoor Institute. During his time in the Qatari capital, Zanetti visited the Qatar 2022 Legacy Pavilion, which showcases preparations for the tournament, including the stadiums and legacy programmes.

Zanetti, who combines his role at Inter with membership of the Organising Committee for FIFA Competitions, praised Qatar’s preparations for the FIFA World Cup™, which will kick off on 21 November 2022.

“I’ve been very impressed – I think Qatar will be ready for the World Cup,” said Zanetti, who made 615 Serie A appearances for Inter – a record for a foreign player.

“All of the new stadiums and all of the cutting-edge technology being used will definitely bring an innovative feel to it. The fact that it’s the first World Cup being held in the Middle East means it will be a big test, but I think Qatar will be ready.”

Zanetti, who won 143 caps for Argentina and played at both the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, was particularly impressed with Qatar’s stadiums. Seven venues have been built from scratch, while Khalifa International Stadium was redeveloped before being inaugurated in 2017. Later this year, Khalifa will host the World Athletics Championships.

Zanetti, who won 17 major honours during his illustrious career, said: “All the new stadiums are state-of-the-art and will ensure the World Cup will be a success. I was very impressed because the stadiums will make it very comfortable for the fans. They’ll be able to enjoy the huge event that the World Cup is. I think the designs are wonderful.”

While matters continue apace off the pitch, Qatar continues to prepare its players to face the world’s best in just over three years’ time. The Maroons recently shocked the football world by winning the AFC Asian Cup thanks to a stunning run which included victories over three countries which qualified for last summer’s World Cup in Russia, namely Saudi Arabia, Korea Republic and Japan.

Next up for Qatar is the Copa America in Brazil, which kicks off in June. Along with Japan, Qatar have been afforded a special invitation to take part in the tournament and have been drawn in a group containing Argentina, Colombia and Paraguay. For Qatar it’s another chance to face top-class opposition – and Zanetti says Argentina will not be taking them lightly. 

“We have great respect for the Qatar national team,” said Zanetti. “I think the fact that they’ve been invited to take part in the Copa America is a chance for them to develop. It will be a great preparatory experience for the World Cup.”

As for the future of Argentine football, Zanetti is hoping a new generation of players can help bring back the glory days. The two-time World Cup winners were eliminated by eventual champions France in the last 16 stage in Russia. “We didn’t have a good World Cup last time out,” said Zanetti. “Now we have a new generation and I’m sure Argentina will play its part [in 2022]. The side will do everything to prepare for the World Cup because everyone in Argentina has very high expectations for it.”

And as for star man Lionel Messi, Zanetti is hopeful the man regarded by many as the best player in the world will play his part for Argentina during Qatar 2022 – and beyond. “Let’s hope it’s not his last World Cup. The most important thing is that Leo Messi gets to Qatar in the best shape possible and can help Argentina to win it – why not?”

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