Netherlands legend Ronald de Boer is enjoying the ‘special atmosphere at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
The 52-year-old Qatar Legacy Ambassador, who played for the Dutch at USA ’94 and France ’98, said fans from across the globe are revelling in Qatar’s compact tournament.
He is also pleased to see the Oranje make a positive start to the World Cup and is looking for an improved performance from Louis van Gaal’s side, as they wrap up their Group A schedule against hosts Qatar at Al Bayt Stadium today.
We are a week into the World Cup, how have you found the atmosphere so far?
I met some Dutch people in Msheireb and they are enjoying it. They went to Souq Waqif and saw all the different nationalities together, spending time with each other.
They said the atmosphere was unbelievable. That is already what I’ve experienced, but it’s good to hear other people say it as well.
That’s the beauty of a compact World Cup like this one here in Qatar. You can feel that a World Cup is going on everywhere you go.
What has impressed you about the tournament so far?
What has stood out for me is the atmosphere in the stadiums, as everything has been so smooth. You just walk in for a game and the friendliness of everyone is great. That has stood out for me.
What do you make of the atmosphere between different sets of fans?
There’s a united spirit among fans. Whether it’s Argentinean and Mexican fans together or Saudis interacting with Dutch fans.
I think this will be the legacy of this World Cup – people meeting each other and having more respect for different cultures.
This is still an unknown region for a lot of people and they are coming here for the first time. They are witnessing with their own eyes what this region is all about.
Your thoughts on the Netherlands’ campaign so far?
The Senegal victory was a great start, but that’s now out of the way. The match against Ecuador was not a great performance, even though we must be satisfied with the result. Saying this, Holland has not lost a game yet and have played the two strongest opponents in their group.
The Dutch conclude the group stage with a match against Qatar. What are you hoping to see from the Oranje in that game?
There will be an expectation that Holland will win this game and finish first in the group. The key is that the performance must be much better than the Ecuador game.
The coach, Louis van Gaal, knows there is a lot of work to do, as he is still trying to find the shape that he wants the team to play and who complements each other on the pitch.
You want to end the group stage in the best way possible with a good result and having played good football.
Which other teams have impressed you so far in the tournament?
For me, Brazil is the favourite to win this World Cup, and I think they showed why in their first game. I watched France’s first game live and you can see with the ability of Kylian Mbappé and Ousmane Dembélé that they look very strong.
In the Euros last year, Spain were the best football team for me, even though they did not win the trophy. Against Costa Rica, they showed their quality with the Barcelona style of play they use, where you don’t get the ball as much as the opposition. These are the three top favourites for the World Cup, in my eyes.