Wed, 28 Sep 2022

BRATISLAVA, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- When news broke out in the Slovakian countryside of Domaniza that a football club from a local village of little more than 1,500 inhabitants will play against Qatar national team, everyone thought it to be either a hoax or a bad joke.

But it was neither.

Qatar national team is staying in Vienna, capital of the neighboring country of Austria in preparation for the FIFA World Cup, and will play against different teams.

As a majority of the top-tier leagues in Slovakia are underway and teams have no free slots, the Qataris have contacted a couple of clubs from the amateur fifth-tier league instead.

It was said that one village club had to refuse as it was organizing its annual village festival, and the other club was not answering the phone, so the privilege to lace up against the Middle Eastern team went to Domaniza, located in the mountainous region of northwest Slovakia.

"I will finally get the chance to show what I can do and spark some interest from Qatar," explained Domaniza midfielder Michal Petrik while putting up newspaper cut-outs mentioning the upcoming clash on the wall at his workplace with industrial machines humming in the background.

Two years ago, Petrik had to work hard to make it back onto the pitch after having torn his knee ligaments. Now he will get the chance to play against one of the 2022 World Cup participants.

"Despite popular belief, this will not be the first international match for our team. In 2000, we challenged the club from Abu Dhabi right here in our village. We are quite used to playing against Arab footballers," explained Domaniza mayor Frantisek Matusik.

Matusik will not send his footballers to Vienna without support. "Our guys have regular jobs, but football is the number one sport in our community," he said. "We are organizing a trip for our fans and have already booked up two buses. We are also printing commemorative T-shirts to remember this historic occasion. We will also bring gifts bearing the crest of our village for the Qataris."

Several TV stations have already expressed interest in broadcasting the unconventional match-up live.

Qatar will play against Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands in Group A of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

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