Former Atletico Madrid captain Gabi Fernandez has hailed Qatar's passion for football and the country's ability to host a successful FIFA World Cup in 2022.
Gabi, who moved to Al Sadd early this month, made 414 competitive appearances for Los Rojiblancos over two stints with his boyhood club. The 35-year-old was part of the Atletico team that lost both Champions League finals to Real Madrid and was in the 2012/13, Spanish La Liga championship-winning squad.
Speaking about the 2022 World Cup, Gabi said that he has witnessed the passion Qataris have for football and that he is confident about their capability to host the tournament.
"I am sure that the organisation (of the 2022 World Cup) in Qatar will be at a high level, like the one in Russia, or even more because of the importance Qataris give towards organising a model tournament.
"Also, I think the presence of international stars in the league will help in developing the level of football before the next World Cup," the two-time Europa League champion revealed on the new Al Sadd club website.
The combative midfielder is currently with the Wolves at a pre-season training camp in Bad Haring, Austria. Gabi feels that his new team is working hard towards a great start to the season.
"I am very happy to start training with Al Sadd. Practice has been excellent and our goal has been to reach peak levels of technical and physical fitness ahead of the new season. It feels great, the team is training as a single group, as a family that is looking to achieve victories together.
"I have been working with a great group of players and coaching staff. I feel part of the group," said the 35-year-old midfielder.
Al Sadd the record Qatar league champions with 13 titles, last won the Falcon Shield in 2013. A proven winner, Gabi hailed his teammates, especially fellow Spaniard Xavi.
"The last five days that I have spent with the team have gone well. The level of training is high, especially as there are many excellent players in the team, such as the captain Xavi, the striker Baghdad Bounedjah, Akram Afif and others. I expect the coordination between the players to improve further as we near the start of the competition.
"Al Sadd is a big team and their aim will always be to win titles. So, this season we will aim to win all the championships," he added.
By Ayeni Olusegun
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