Oman to host 2022 World Cup matches? Quite a possibility

Muscat - 

Football fans in Oman are going gaga over the prospect that the country stands a chance of hosting few Qatar 2022 World Cup matches if it’s made a 48-team affair from the current 32.

According to international media reports, the football’s world governing body FIFA is looking to expand the showpiece event despite the concerns of some officials in host nation Qatar. Under the plan being considered, most matches will still be held in Qatar which won the rights to a 32-team event.

The recent visit of FIFA president Gianni Infantino and his talks with top officials in Oman has led to speculation that the country is being looked at to host the matches along with Kuwait. And even before that happens, sports fans in Oman are celebrating hoping to see the news becoming true.

Ahmed al Kaabi, sports analyst at Oman TV and former Oman Football Association spokesperson, told Muscat Daily that the move would be a dream come true for Oman. “In case it happens, it would be a dream come true for Oman. It will be great to play host to World Cup matches. Even though it is not clear if Oman would automatically qualify for the finals, it doesn’t matter as long as we play host in any way.”

Asked if Oman is ready to play host, Kaabi said there is enough time for preparation if FIFA agrees for a 48-team tournament. “We already have one main stadium which only needs minor improvements and there will be enough time to construct new one.”

The World Cup will be expanded from 32 to 48 teams in 2026, but FIFA president has proposed bringing forward the enlarged format to 2022. “I will be the first one to celebrate if it comes true. It is a dream of a lifetime. Moreover, co-hosting with Qatar is something great for citizens of both the countries. And if Oman qualifies for the World Cup finals, it will be an opportunity to do well,” Haidar al Lawati, an Omani football fan said.

Sleyyem Khalaf, former Fanja club goalkeeper said, “It has always been a dream for us to host the World Cup and if it happens, there is no doubt that Oman would be ready for that in time. Let’s pray that this news becomes a reality.”

An agenda for FIFA’s ruling council says plans to expand 2022 World Cup to 48 teams will be assessed at the March 15 meeting in Miami, US.

Ali al Shayadi, former Suwaiq Club goalkeeper, said Oman hosting the World Cup matches will be a great honour. “Hosting the matches will bring many benefits including promotion of tourism as well as economic benefits. We hope this dream comes true.”

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