World Cup 2022 diary: A Messi-Modric fanboy, a reflective Pele, and why it's not called 'Dogar'

Getty Images

The football's back for the quarter-finals. As such, the fans around Qatar have been keeping us amused and entertained.

One man at Brazil v Croatia made no secret of his allegiance; there was also a shiny Pele; and Argentina supporters caused a ruckus in town.

Oh, and we shouldn't forget more diary focus on the cats of Qatar, as one reporter contemplated the reason behind the country's name...

Messi. Modric. Anybody but Brazil…

What do you do when you just can't pick sides? Well, get yourself a half-and-half shirt, of course.

Except, one fan – a Croatian who goes by the name of DJ Zeljko on Instagram – at Croatia v Brazil had his allegiances spread across both of Friday’s matches.

His jersey was split down the middle between Croatia and Argentina, with a number 10 on each side – one for Luka Modric and one for Lionel Messi.

He could have been in for a very good day if both sides got positive results.

Though of course he might also be in for a nightmare...

A country of cats and no dogs

Qatar is full of cats. Anyone who has walked the streets of Doha can confirm this.

Most of them are strays, free and 'wild'. They are not afraid of humans, but rather enjoy their company, are accustomed to them and often approach to ask for food.

There are several explanations for this phenomenon, some official, some not. Before the World Cup there were more dogs on the streets of Doha, but the government launched a campaign to sterilise and control the dog population, which reduced it considerably.

On the other hand, cats in this part of the world tend to have a kind of human adoration, dating back to the Egypt of the pharaohs, and also in ancient Persia.

The truth is cats are everywhere in Doha, and the excessive number of felines over dogs is perhaps the reason why the country is called Qatar and not Dogar...

The boot's on the other foot...

It's not uncommon for journalists to be interviewed by colleagues at major events. There's an awful lot of pages to fill and clicks to target.

One member of the Stats Perform team was asked to speak on camera by a foreign news organisation when sitting in Souq Waqif on Thursday night.

Expecting the usual fluff questions about potential World Cup winners, the semi-final line-up, the clash between Virgil van Dijk and Lionel Messi, he agreed.

Only when the camera was rolling and the lights were on did the interviewer whip out his phone to show a video of children in Syria displaced by bombs he alleged were dropped by the Bashar Al Assad regime, before asking for comment.

Suddenly, the questions posed in pre-match press conferences seemed straightforward…

Songs of greats

One of the biggest differences between Qatar 2022 and other World Cups is the atmosphere.

Because all fans are essentially based in the same city throughout the tournament, you don't really see massive congregations of people supporting the same country, and with Doha so big, it's all very diluted.

But with no games on Thursday, an evening trip into the centre of Doha yielded some spontaneous singing.

Argentina fans were in fine voice as they congregated in the Souq Waqif market, singing about Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona.

Morocco aside, it's fair to say Argentina are by far the best-supported team here.

Man in the mirror(s)

Brazil met Croatia at Education City Stadium on Friday in the opening quarter-final, and plenty of fans were milling about around 90 minutes before kick-off.

One the attractions was what at first appeared to be a statue, but it quickly became apparent that someone was kitted out in a reflective costume, seemingly resembling Brazil great Pele.

Complete with a replica World Cup trophy made out of the same mirror-like material, they would have been hard to miss!