MOHAMED AL MALKA /AIPS* in DOHA: Jorge Valdano believes that Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup will surprise fans.

Valdano, former Real Madrid player and manager who was a World Cup-winner with Argentina in 1986, delivered a positive message while addressing fans both young and old at the Aspire Academy.

He insisted Qatar was “well-placed to surprise many people” with its hosting and praised the “unrivalled” training facilities as well the “dramatic progress” being made in terms of nurturing young footballing talent.

Valdano told local media: “Qatar is a country that deserves, and should be immensely proud of, its continuing football success. Having had the chance to witness the unrivalled training facilities here at Aspire Academy up close, I am greatly impressed by what I have seen.

“With the FIFA World Cup in 2022 a few years away, Qatar is proving every day that it has a genuine love for the game and a deep commitment towards training and unlocking sporting potential.

“I am sure that, regardless of whether the 2002 World Cup takes place in summer or winter, it will be a great success.”

World federation FIFA is currently a worldwide survey to assess the prospects for moving the finals away from the traditional dates of June and July to avoid the searing summer temperatures in the Gulf.

Valdano was given a guided tour of the Academy facilities and delivered two lectures on his football training philosophy to more than 400 Qatari coaches.

** AIPS is the international association for sports journalists. More information at