Riyad Mahrez: Qatar 2022 will be one of the best World Cups ever
Algeria's star player and coach have both praised the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) for its plans and preparations for Qatar 2022, with Riyad Mahrez stating he expects the tournament to be the ‘best ever' FIFA World Cup™.
The Manchester City winger, a Premier League winner in 2016 and 2019, visited the SC's Legacy Pavilion with his Algeria coach – and former Qatar national team boss – Djamel Belmadi while in the country preparing for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations.
After being shown the plans for the tournament – and beyond in legacy mode – the 28-year-old said he was excited by what he had seen, and spoke of the importance of the Arab world being able to host football's most prestigious tournament.
“It's very important for everyone,” said Mahrez. “It's a massive organisational task, an unbelievable one. We came here to see close up how it will be and I think it will be one of the best World Cups we have ever seen. We are all looking forward to it.”
Belmadi meanwhile, who led the Qatar national team between 2014-15 – and managed Qatar Stars League sides Lekhwiya and Al Duhail either side of that stint – also spoke of his excitement for the tournament.
He said: “It has come around so fast. I remember the day that Qatar won the rights [to host the World Cup] and it seems like it was yesterday.
“There are just three more years until the World Cup and I'm sure that will go very fast too. When I see how quickly they are organising and preparing for this, it's just amazing.”
Belmadi also said the visit had acted as the perfect motivational tool for his team, who kick off their African Cup of Nations campaign against Kenya on 23 June.
“We are all very keen to participate in this World Cup – whether it be directly or indirectly,” he continued. “I talked to the players such as Riyad Mahrez and they said that when they saw the stadiums and how this event will be organised they just want to be involved and participate. So as a coach, it's good for me as it has provided a great motivation for them.”
Algeria have not won the African Cup of Nations since claiming the title on home soil in 1990, but following the Qatar training camp, Mahrez was in optimistic mood for his nation's chances.
“It will be difficult, but we are all very confident,” he added. “We are training very hard to be ready, we came here to have the same weather as in Egypt so that we can adapt ourselves and ensure we have done everything we can to be ready for our first game.”
As well as Algeria, a number of other African Cup of Nations teams – including Burundi, Cameroon and Mali – are also in Qatar making use of the world-class training facilities ahead of the competition.
The visits were facilitated by the Qatar Football Association (QFA) and made possible due to its ongoing close relationships with numerous associations across the region.
Adding his own words of welcome, QFA General Secretary Mansoor Al Ansari said: “It has been our pleasure to welcome each of these teams to Qatar, to use our world-leading training facilities as they prepare for their respective African Cup of Nations campaigns.
“We wish every one of our visitors well in Egypt, and look forward to welcoming them back here at any time in the future – and of course, in 2022.”