2022 FIFA World Cup will be historic for Middle East: Xavi

Mumbai, Mar 18 (PTI) World Cup-winning ace Spanish footballer Xavi Hernandez sees the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar as a historic occasion for the entire Middle East.
He said the football scenario in the gas-rich Gulf nation has improved a lot over the years.
“It (Qatar) is a new county (as far as football is concerned) and they are really excited to organize the 2022 (FIFA) World Cup.
“And in my opinion, they are doing well and they have been organizing since 2010. They had time and still have time to organize everything,” Hernandez said.
“So it will be a historic World Cup for the Middle East, and not just for Qatar,” the 39-year-old footballer told reporters here Monday.
Hernandez is in Mumbai for a `Generation Amazing’ program and ceremonially kick-started the construction of a new community pitch in Colaba in south Mumbai.
Qatar is all set to become the first country from the Middle East (West Asia) to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
Hernandez, who played for long for La Liga club Barcelona, now plays as a central mid-fielder for Qatari club Al Sadd Sc.
Qatar stunned Japan to win the AFC Asian Cup and Hernandez said the Gulf country had good players.
“Because I know them, I know that they have a very good generation (of players), especially the young generation are doing well.
“It started with the Aspire Academy in 2006. They have a project, which will not end in 2022, but the main objective is 2022,” he said.
“They (Qatar) won the AFC Asian Cup, which is a historic achievement for Qatar. But I know them and they are capable to win or do well in the new competition,” he said when asked whether, like Russia (which hosted the 2018 FIFA World Cup), Qatar can take strides at the international level.
According to Hernandez, the football scenario in Qatar has improved a lot.
“I thought that the football (scenario in Qatar) was worst (when I came there).
“But they have improved a lot, especially in the last (few) years with this Aspire Academy and I think they can compete now against everybody.
“They have a good organization, a good staff and a good coach (mention name) who is doing very well,” he added.
He also gushed about the skills of Lionel Messi, saying the Argentinian ace was getting better with time.
“Every day he is becoming a better player. He is unbelievable and, in my opinion, he is the best player, not at the moment, but in history, because what he is doing is incredible.
“In every game he makes a difference and has been doing it since 12 years. I was playing with him and I know is skills. He is just incredible,” said the Spaniard.
He also remarked that a World Cup with 32 teams was better than the one (proposed) with 48 squads and reasoned that it was good for both the players and spectators.
“It is better for the show, spectators and even for the players, the competition is not too long. Qatar is preparing everything with 32 teams in the World Cup,” he noted.
Hernandez also made a mention of the Indian Super League (ISL), in which Sunil Chhetri’s Bengaluru FC defeated FC Goa 1-0 to lift the trophy here Monday evening.
“I saw yesterday on Internet (the ISL final) where Bengaluru FC won against FC Goa. I know the Super League, I do not follow all the leagues, but follow the Super League in India.
“Many Spanish people are working here and I am proud of them. Super League is improving,” he signed off.

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