With COVID restrictions remaining tight in Australia, Doha became the Socceroos’ alternative home base as they were offered a sneak peak of a 2022 FIFA World Cup stadium with their 3-0 victory over China in Qatar.
Exposed to immense heat as high as 39°C, the Socceroos were to deal with an entirely different proposition than the relatively cool temperatures that are common in Melbourne or Sydney.
However, with promises of advanced air conditioning mechanisms being deployed within Qatar’s World Cup stadiums, the Aussies were offered a semblance of respite as they hoped to play at a more bearable temperature which would help maintain their intensity on the pitch for 90 minutes.
Understandably, when Australia arrived at the Khalifa International Stadium to play their ‘home’ World Cup Qualifier, one question was on the lips of many football fans – does the air conditioning work?
According to Australia’s 200cm centre-half Harry Souttar, the answer is yes!
“It was a lot different to the training sessions we had,” explained the Stoke City man with regards to the temperature inside the stadium.
“It was air conditioned to 24 degrees and it certainly did feel quite cool, you could certainly feel the air conditioning.”
The towering central defender then went on to illustrate that the temperature can help with the tempo at which the game is played.
“I think it did help a lot with the recovery of players on the pitch,” he said.
“But like I said, I think it’s a nice touch to have that (air conditioning).”
The Socceroos’ next World Cup Qualifier sees them take on Vietnam in a non-air conditioned stadium while exposed to immense heat.
Despite this proposition, Souttar remains relatively unfazed on focused on the job at hand.
“We know it’ll be very hot!” said Souttar when asked of what he expects in Vietnam.
“Most teams in Asia it’s the same, you know, we’ve played in countries like Kuwait for example in the Summer.
“I think the boys are used to it now, we won’t use that as an excuse and today and tomorrow we will do due diligence on Vietnam and we’ll see their strengths and weaknesses but for the game it’s mostly about us and what threat we carry to them.”
Australia will continue their journey towards qualification for the 2022 World Cup on September 7 with this match against Vietnam.
Australia take on Vietnam on September 7 at 10pm AEST