Qatar's preparations for hosting the World Cup this winter were dealt a humiliating blow on Tuesday when they were beaten 1-0 in a practice match against Irish Premiership champions Linfield, managed by former Premier League striker David Healy.
A goal from striker Chris McKee in the first half handed the south Belfast club victory in Marbella. Seven of Qatar’s players who were named on the teamsheet featured in the 0-0 friendly draw with Slovenia back in March. They had been unbeaten in nine matches, with a penalty shootout victory over Egypt the standout result of the run.
But Healy’s side will have certainly brought them back down to Earth and there will be plenty who will start to worry about this result as the World Cup draws closer, with many worrying that the team placed 51st in FIFA's latest world rankings will struggle to leave an impression. Qatar’s campaign kicks off on 21 November against Ecuador in the tournament's opening fixture.
Linfield are no strangers to facing international teams. They previously took on Argentina at Windsor Park back in 1990 when the Albiceleste were the reigning world champions. They lost that game 1-0 despite the absence of Diego Maradona, although they did beat Kenya 1-0 in a game played in Belfast in 2002.
Healy and his players will be pleased with this result as they prepare for the first qualifying round of the Champions League next month, when they will be facing The New Saints of the Welsh Premier League over two legs.
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