This was a game where nobody lost, and everyone won. The men who had worked tirelessly behind the scenes to build Qatar’s eight World Cup stadiums and 42 training grounds played an hour-long match alongside the legends of football at the Al Thumama Stadium, which had hosted eight matches of this tournament.
In the end the team in blue, led by 2002 World Cup-winner Cafu paid the price of its captain’s insistence on playing as a forward. Portugal’s Nuno Gomes scored from a header and then Alessandro Del Piero converted a penalty past former Oman and Bolton goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi to give the men in golden jerseys a 2-0 win.
“Well, it was incredible playing with them, and I must confess, it’s really been a privilege playing with them. I realised that they were still as good as ever,” said Jean Basile of Cameroon, one of the players picked from last year’s Workers’ Cup-winning team.
Goal-scorer Del Piero was happy despite receiving a yellow card from referee and FIFA president Gianni Infantino. “It’s a great opportunity, one of the opportunities to say thank you, especially to the people that are here, in their way, helping to build these incredible facilities and everything around Doha,” the Italian maestro said.
The 6000-strong predominantly South Asian and African crowd was happy to see their friends tackle and match the steps of these legends. “I went one-on-one with [Marco] Materazzi. That was one of the most exciting moments for me. I’ve always dreamed of playing with these guys or seeing them, so it was an amazing experience,” Ghana’s Justice Boyce Odoi, perhaps, was speaking for all of them.