Doha: More than 37 years after his Qatar team famously reached the final of the 1981 FIFA World Youth Championship in Australia, legendary coach Evaristo de Macedo returned to Doha to attend the Amir Cup final and learn about the country’s rapidly advancing preparations for 2022.
After taking a tour of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy’s (SC) Legacy Pavilion and receiving information about the progress Qatar is making towards 2022, the former Flamengo, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Brazil striker was presented with a special commemorative portrait to mark his return to Doha.
“I feel very happy when I am here in Qatar, because I have made very good friends – the people have recognised all that we achieved with the national team,” Evaristo said in an interview with www.sc.qa.
“When they called me to come back here, they made me very happy because I was able to be with my friends, and those who helped me here in my work.”
Evaristo continued: “In over ten years with the national team we were able to do things which no one imagined we would be able to do. But we did it, and that is important. I always have Qatar in my memory – I try to find out what is happening here, how my friends are, how the country is. I am very happy to see that Doha is more beautiful every day.”
Nasser Al Khater, the SC’s Assistant Secretary General for Tournament Affairs, accompanied Evaristo on his tour of the Legacy Pavilion.
“It gives us great happiness to welcome you back to Qatar, your home,” said Al Khater. “We all remember very fondly the many great things achieved by the Qatari national team in the golden era. You helped the country’s football and sports teams dream big and achieve the seemingly impossible.”
The former Qatar coach also attended the recent Amir Cup final between Al Duhail and Al Rayyan at Khalifa International Stadium, the first 2022 FIFA World Cup stadium to be completed.
Evaristo said: “It is incredible to see how the stadium where we played so many important games looks today, with the cooling technology they have added working so well. It was the first time in my life I was in a cooled stadium. They are building new stadiums here for 2022, but I believe the great stadium in my mind, and in the mind of Qatar fans, will always be Khalifa International Stadium.”
Having made the journey to Doha from Rio de Janeiro with his son and grandson, the 84-year-old was delighted to see that traditions were being maintained even as the city transforms ahead of hosting the world’s football fans.
“It’s very nice to witness this moment because I got to know Qatar when it was starting out as a country. They started to build a great country, and through football we have been able to help a little. People love football here and we achieved great results – many young people took up the game. Now, almost everything has changed in Doha. This is a new city, but always maintaining its traditions.”
Evaristo was also reunited on live television with a number of his former players, who he coached to a string of successes. As well as reaching the final in 1981, the team qualified for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and reached the quarter-finals of the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
“We were able to use the result in 1981 as a springboard to build new football stadiums and clubs,” said Evaristo. “Today you can see that while we started to put Qatar on the map, today this country has arrived on the world stage. Almost every day someone in Brazil asks about Qatar: how are the people, what is the country like, how can we go to visit? I believe the new stadiums for 2022 will give another push to the development of the country and the sport, and it will be an extraordinary tournament.”
Concluding with a look back at his own exploits with the surprise U20 side from Qatar, Evaristo smiled wistfully as he said: “1981 is a date which a lot of people here remember. Sport has grown as a result, and football in the end is a means of friendship, which unites people and cultures. Football has grown a lot here. Today Qatar is known around the world. This is a dream which has been transformed into reality.”