Doha: Every morning here, the Socceroos will have woken up to the sound of the muezzin call. There are too many minarets for them not to have heard it. It’s a sound never before heard at a World Cup.

Their match against Argentina was played at Ahmad Bin Ali stadium, named for the emir who negotiated Qatar’s independence from the UK (while remaining very attached to the shopping there). He also struck oil. That is, he founded a new power.

A dejected Aziz Behich after the final whistle.Credit:Getty Images

It is also where “Grey Wiggle” goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne performed the heroics that landed the Socceroos here by the narrowest squeak in the first place, though he did not recognise it himself, because for all the civil engineering flair and flourish in the new suite of Qatari stadiums on the outside, the internal fitouts are identical.

These were propitious omens. One portent was sobering. The malls, metro and stands were crammed with ceaselessly singing Argentines, all in national jerseys, giving the stadium a bleached look.

Ninety per cent bore Lionel Messi’s No.10. Most of this century, that has not been so much an omen as a given. In this era, if you’re going to lose, it might as well be to a Messi goal. So, after a rousing encounter, it came to pass.

Because of Messi (and still after all these years, Diego Maradona), Argentina are the preferred team of neutrals and nearly everyone else’s second team, including Australians. There were more photographers pitchside than spectators at some A-League games. It’s another Messi effect.

Lionel Messi celebrates victory.Credit:AP

Australian shirts stood out in their isolation outside the stadium and in a pocket inside (but lost nothing for bannerism. The judge’s prize went to: “Today I feel Mooy”). It’s a big world, and we’re in one corner. If they’re honest, they’ll secretly treasure the Messi goal, too. He had the grace to score it under their noses.

In the end, the portents were not false, merely opaque. The Socceroos gave every bit as good as they got, and would have snatched a draw deep in injury time had Argentinian goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez not got a random elbow in the way of teenage Socceroo Garang Kuol’s snap on the turn. It was his shot; it was so nearly his moment. Australia might have been a different place.

QOSHE - Disappointment, but no shame in Socceroos’ defeat - Greg Baum
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Disappointment, but no shame in Socceroos’ defeat

8 1 12
04.12.2022

Doha: Every morning here, the Socceroos will have woken up to the sound of the muezzin call. There are too many minarets for them not to have heard it. It’s a sound never before heard at a World Cup.

Their match against Argentina was played at Ahmad Bin Ali stadium, named for the emir who negotiated Qatar’s independence from the UK (while remaining very attached to the shopping there). He also struck oil. That is, he founded a new power.

A dejected Aziz Behich after the final whistle.Credit:Getty Images

It is also where “Grey Wiggle” goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne........

© The Sydney Morning Herald


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