Welsh fans fly to Doha to hear Dragons roar at first World Cup in 64 years

Fellow group member USA also drawing fans from afar to watch their team in action

Wales fan Dai Rees (C), with fellow supporters, is looking forward to the World Cup finals. Photo: Dai Rees
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Welsh football fans from around the world will be landing in the region next month to unite in support of their national team.

The Dragons have only ever qualified for two finals tournaments — once in 1958 and now, 64 years later.

In 1958, the team reached the quarter-finals before being beaten by eventual champions Brazil. Hopes are high for a similar performance in Doha.

Wales

Loyal supporter Dai Rees is flying in to watch games from the Netherlands, and is meeting fellow Welshmen in the Middle East who are arriving from around the world.

“Our plans for Qatar are a mixed bag, one friend is flying in from Australia, another is coming from the UK and my friend and I will fly into Doha via Abu Dhabi from the Netherlands,” said Mr Rees, who lives in The Hague.

“We have a Fifa-sponsored apartment outside the city for four nights where we will all stay.

“Then we have tickets for Wales v USA, which was the hardest thing to arrange as the queues online took ages.

“We also had tickets for the Netherlands against Senegal but that got moved which was a big shame, so we had to change those in for a refund.”

Wales fan Dai Rees will be travelling to Qatar from the Netherlands, where he lives, to watch the Dragons play in a World Cup for the first time in 64 years. Photo: Dai Rees

The last time Wales qualified was in the year of the birth of the microchip, the formation of Nasa and the Munich air crash when eight Manchester United players lost their lives.

Welsh exile Mr Rees compiles a regular podcast on all things related to the national team called ‘Coleman Had a Dream’, and hopes it won’t be another 64-year wait before the next World Cup for Wales.

“So far, the bill for tickets, flights and accommodation has reached $1,700 (Dh6,200) but it will be worth it if Wales can qualify from the group stages,” he said.

“I’m pretty happy with that and I know a lot of people who are staying in Dubai and flying in for games.

“We looked at that option but for four nights it didn’t seem viable.

“We can’t wait to go and we will try to attend the fan zones and one of the Wales organised parties that will be going on.”

Alongside Wales, Group B is made up of Iran, England and the USA.

Wales will open their tournament against the USA on November 21 at the Al Rayyan Stadium.

USA

One US fan hoping for tickets to follow his side is Danny Navarro, who lives in Washington and is travelling to Qatar with his wife Laurie.

The couple have saved airmiles over the past two years to contribute to discounted flights and hotel accommodation in the UAE during their stay.

They will be attending the France v Tunisia match on November 30.

Danny Navarro is planning a trip to the Qatar World Cup using airmiles to dodge expensive flight prices from the US. Photo: Danny Navvaro

“I grew up watching the Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley US team so the World Cup is part of my childhood,” said Mr Navarro, whose Instagram page LatinosWithPassports offers cash-saving tips to World Cup travellers.

“The 2002 tournament was great for us and we beat Mexico along the way, so it was emotional.

“This team represents the best of us and is very diverse.

“My heritage is Colombian and we have a player with that history too, so I’ll be looking forward to seeing Jesus Ferreira play.

“We will be in Dubai and Abu Dhabi from November 20 to December 8 and we want to explore more of the UAE and be immersed with the locals.

“If we can get other opportunities to go to Qatar to watch other games we will se if we can use our air miles to travel.

“Dubai has some great fan zones so it will be an amazing atmosphere there too.

“A World Cup in the Middle East will be a new experience for all of us.”

World Cup team accommodation in Qatar: in pictures

Updated: October 27, 2022, 3:00 AM
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