World Cup 2022 diary: The day the atmosphere arrived in Qatar

Anadolu Agency

Qatar 2022 may only be a few games old, but it's not been lacking for talking points.

Among them has been the crowds. In short, some people have been unimpressed by the atmospheres and bemused by the swathes of empty seats in stadiums during the games.

Of course, the most high-profile instance of that was in the opening game, with thousands of Qatar fans seemingly leaving the match with the hosts 2-0 down to Ecuador at half-time.

But there was a feeling that Tuesday was the day the atmosphere truly arrived.

TUNISIA'S TWELFTH MAN

Denmark v Tunisia did not immediately jump out as a highlight of the first round of group games. Indeed, a 0-0 draw at full-time would have suggested it was one to miss.

That couldn't be further from the truth, but it was not down to the football, which lacked cutting-edge quality. No, it was because of the incredible Tunisia support that gathered at Education City Stadium.

A five-minute trip on the metro was punctuated by Tunisian fans singing and dancing, with the carnival atmosphere carrying on and out onto the streets.

In the ground itself, after kick-off, an edge developed. Masses of red and white cheered every tackle, pass and run made by their team, who gave their all in response, and jeered and whistled any time Denmark were in possession.

Tunisia might not go far in Qatar, but their supporters will make their presence known. That can only be a good thing.

EL TRI'S SEA OF GREEN

After the great noise produced by Tunisia's fans earlier in the day, Mexico supporters arguably turned things up a notch.

El Tri descended on the 974 Stadium in their droves, bringing with them a party atmosphere and, of course, sombreros!

Mexico didn't give their supporters a huge amount to cheers about on the pitch, aside from Guillermo Ochoa's penalty save.

But they were in great voice nonetheless, which is hopefully a sign of things to come.

SOUQ AND YE SHALL FIND

Everywhere you look in Qatar, you will see a baffling mix of old meeting new.

Souq Waqif in downtown Doha is usually an exception, having been founded a century ago to enable Bedouins to trade a variety of goods by the waterfront.

Livestock, as well as fabrics, spices and perfumes were the order of the day back then, and the souq has continued to evolve to the current day.

It is unlikely, however, they would have done much of a trade in football merchandise. Step in the 2022 World Cup!

Take a walk round the souq during the next few weeks and you will see shirts, flags, hats and scarves hanging from the rafters.

BAGPIPES IN THE DESERT

The United States and Wales served up an entertaining 1-1 draw at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Monday, though the ground is situated in a rather remote area of Al Rayyan.

Pre-match entertainment, therefore, is confined to the stadium perimeter, but there was a fascinating show put on by a dancing troop.

With bagpipes and a goblet drum (as it is known in Qatar), the six dancers made quite the impression on the members of the media waiting for entry to the ground… hopefully some fans turned up to see it!

THE MOTHER OF ALL MALLS

Doha loves a shopping mall.

It feels like there is one around every corner – not that it should be surprising! After all, with the extreme temperatures here, for much of the year it'd simply be too hot to have a wander down the high street for a bit of window shopping.

But there are shopping malls, and then there are shopping malls .

In need of some post-match food after England's 6-2 win over Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium on Monday, Stats Perform's reporter stumbled upon the mother of all shopping centres across the road.

As you enter the Villagio Mall, the foyer opens up into a rather grand reception area with a ceiling painted to resemble a clear blue sky, and the surrounding walls feature ornate facades reminiscent of historic Italian towns.

And then, right in front of you behind a railing, water, and on it a gondola. You can genuinely be luxuriously transported from one side of the mall to the other as if you were in Venice… sort of.