I am not here to provide sports commentary. Sadly enough (or perhaps luckily enough for my nerves), I didn’t watch the game. Blame medical school exams scheduling and my very non-existent studying-time managing skills.
Over 50,000 Lebanese gathered at the Camille Chamoun stadium in Beirut to cheer for our team. These are a few pictures of the people gathered there, with all the enthusiasm they mustered, which is actually a whole lot:
We’re used to seeing faces painted with the flags of Italy, Germany, Brazil. But never Lebanon.
Because it wouldn’t be a Lebanese game without some serious trolling
(Picture by Bachir Itani.)
For the technical rundown of the game, here’s a source you can check.
What’s sad about the whole affair is that both teams were nowhere near an equal field when it comes to, well, everything. First, the Lebanese team was full of Lebanese who are underpaid, underfunded and do this more so for “leisure” than for credible prospects in a country where football had taken a backseat to basketball for a long, long time.
In fact, many Lebanese were upset how none of our local TV stations was broadcasting the game. I have to ask those: where was this enthusiasm when Lebanon went through the World Cup qualifiers year after year and didn’t get anywhere? Don’t blame our “poor” TV station. Blame the monopolizing giant Al-Jazeera which doesn’t let anyone else get the rights for a football game. God forbid that happens!
But I digress.
On the other hand, here’s how the Qatari teams breaks down:
“Hi. My name is Sebastian. And I am Qatari.”
Doesn’t make sense to you? It’s not meant to. But here’s another one.
“Hi. My name is Lawrence. And I am Qatari too.”
When more than half of the team on the field is nationalized, what can one expect? It looks like Qatar have so much money on their hands that they simply decided to purchase a national team. Many people on Twitter, most of whom weren’t Lebanese, had this to say: “Qatar team, why you no have Qataris?”
So very true.
Towards the later half of the second half, based on the bits and pieces I watched, the Lebanese team looked totally run out of stamina, which has been the case in their previous games as well. Based on this, what worries me the most is not losing to Qatar, it’s Lebanon having a second game on June 8th against Uzbekistan and then another one on July 12th against South Korea, all the way in Seoul. Will our players be able to handle the severe effort those games will require, let alone the time zone difference and the traveling?
I really hope so. But sometimes realism needs to tone down the sense of nationalism. And I’ll leave it at that for now.