Former Netherlands international Nigel de Jong is no stranger to Qatar football. He signed for Qatar Stars League (QSL) outfit Al Ahli back in 2018 before moving to Al Shahaniya after a season.
The 34-year-old not only is loving life in a competitive QSL but has also been left impressed by the facilities on offer at Qatar. So much so that he has no doubts that the 2022 World Cup, to be hosted by Qatar, will be nothing short of ‘amazing’.
“I have been to the Supreme Committee of Delivery & Legacy (SC) to have a look at the plans for the upcoming World Cup and (I think) it will be an amazing tournament. The organisers have learnt a lot from the 2018 World Cup,” he told Goal.
“If you see the stadiums that are being built and the logistics present, you will be impressed. I think this is the first World Cup where we can actually see three games in a day, given the proximity of the stadiums to each other. It is unheard of.
“It will be a great World Cup.”
The 34-year-old also opened up about his life in Qatar and how he adjusted to the conditions. “I feel very fortunate and lucky to be here right now.
“The first year was about a bit of adjusting to the weather and culture and also football. But I am really liking it and my family as well. Now (I am) in a different club and I have no complaints. Till now everything is fine.”
QSL has also been attracting attention, given the fact that stars like Xavi Hernandez and Wesley Sneijder have all plied their trade there. De Jong, who was part of the Netherlands team which reached the final of the 2010 World Cup, feels that the competition is very strong in the QSL.
“I think the competition in the Qatar Stars League is really high. There are a lot of new players coming in from Europe and the rest of the world. They have good quality. So it is only getting better. So, we can rate the league highly in comparison to other middle east competitions.”
The former Manchester City and AC Milan midfielder was also lavish in his praise for the Qatar national team which won the 2019 Asian Cup and took part in the 2019 Copa America where they played against the likes of Argentina. He feels the continental champions have a strong group which will put up a competitive showing during the 2022 World Cup.
“If they keep the team together, improve their game and build on the experience that they are having in QSL, it will be vital (to a competitive showing in 2022). Maybe, some players would go outside of Qatar and experience that high level. You saw what happened in the Asian Cup. They were playing as a team and that helped.
“They had a great experience when they participated in Copa America. They got to see how it is to play in that level against footballing giants. In two years time, they will be ready.”