For fans, home is where the game is!
A total of 12,020 Qatari and Indian fans came to the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium to cheer their teams, making it an exciting evening.
The game on the field, between Asian champions Qatar and sleeping giants India, may have been a mismatch at times, but the battle on the stands raged on at a much more even keel.
Hundreds of Qatari and Indian football fans, clad in traditional white thobes and colourful attire, kept up a constant din throughout the night.
While the Qatari spectators were seated well ahead of the game, the Indian crowd came in at leisure and filled the stands only a little while after the match started.
From then on, the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium, already reverberating with a cacophony of loud cheers, exploded.
Songs from Indian supporters loudly countered the Arabic chants of Qatari fans. Every goal attempt by Qatari players, of which there were many, and every Indian save were equally applauded. The Mexican wave also made its appearance, with both sets of fans joining in.
Qatar national coach Felix Sanchez acknowledged that the boisterous crowd spiced up the game.
“It was great to have a rival crowd, and they made for great playing atmosphere,” he said at the post-match press conference.
Initially, it had been announced that only 8% of total tickets would be sold to Indian supporters. While many were left disappointed, several hundred fortune seekers still turned up at the stadium, hoping to make it in some way. Their determination paid off.
“I purchased two tickets but was unable to get more. I came to the stadium hoping to get a few more tickets on match day. While we didn’t get those extra ones, we were still allowed to get in after the game started. The chance we took paid off,” Ashwin Lukose, an Indian fan, told Inside Qatar.
The Indian players seemed to revel in the spectators’ attention and they played their hearts out. After the game, they walked down to both ends of the stadium to lead their fans in the Viking Salute, made famous by Iceland at the UEFA Euro 2016 in France.
Irrespective of results on the field, it was a day when football, and its legions of supporters, won.