Xavi bids farewell in Qatar's newly-inaugurated 2022 World Cup venue

Xavi played the last match of his career in the Amir Cup final between Al Sadd and Al Duhail at the newly constructed Al Janoub Stadium in Doha on Thursday.

Xavi Hernandez (6) of Al Sadd in action against Al Duhail during the Qatar Amir Cup final held at the newly-inaugurated Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah.   -  Getty Images

It was an evening of celebration, fanfare and goodbyes as the first arena to be built from scratch for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the Al Janoub Stadium, was inaugurated in Doha on Thursday on the occasion of the Amir Cup final.

Al Sadd, which was recently crowned the Qatar Stars League champion, took on Al Duhail in a late evening kick-off that was graced by top dignitaries such as the Amir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and FIFA President Gianni Infantino, and a host of celebrated footballers such as Roberto Carlos, Cafu, and Samuel Eto'o. 

On the pitch was another footballing genius, Xavi Hernandez, playing his last professional match of his illustrious career which saw him lift the FIFA World Cup, two UEFA Euro Championship titles, four UEFA Champions League titles and eight La Liga trophies. The 39-year-old also bagged a title in the last year of his career as he led Al Sadd to the Qatar Stars League crown.

Xavi, who attracted raucous cheers from the capacity crowd each time he got the ball, showed glimpses of his ingenious passing game in creating the first goal, but wasn't able to inspire his side to victory. Al Sadd was reduced to eight men in the second half and went down 4-1 to Al Duhail. Belgian-Brazilian winger Edmilson Jr emerged as the star of the clash as his brace steered Al Duhail to its second consecutive Amir Cup title.

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The Al Janoub Stadium in Qatar has a capacity of 40,000. The pitch was laid in March this year in a record time of 9 hours and 15 minutes.   -  Special Arrangement


Stadium renamed before kick-off

The stadium, initially called Al Wakrah Stadium, was renamed Al Janoub before kick-off by the Amir. The stadium's design is inspired by the sails of traditional dhow boats, a tribute to Al Wakrah’s seafaring past. The pitch was laid in March this year in a record time of 9 hours and 15 minutes and is embraced by 40,000 seats.

Though the 2022 World Cup will be played in November to avoid the blistering summer heat, the organisers have left no stones unturned and have installed an innovative cooling system at the stadium that will cool the spectator areas. There is also a pitch cooling system in place that will supply air across the pitch and onto the field of play, ensuring that the players don't feel the heat.

The venue also boasts a unique retractable roof that has been made out of 1,400 pieces that were shipped from Italy. The roof will contribute to the efficiency of the stadium’s cooling technology and protect the interior of the stadium from harsh weather conditions.

Located 15km south of Doha, the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah will host matches until the quarterfinal stage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

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