Al Rayyan SC, one of the most popular football clubs in Qatar, has a history of signing South Korean players. Veteran center back Cho Yong-hyung played with them from 2010 to 2014, and now former FC Seoul midfielder Koh Myong-jin is with the eight-time Qatar Stars League champions.
|This computer generated image provided by Qatar`s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy shows what Al Rayyan Stadium and its auxiliary facilities will look like for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. (Yonhap)|
Al Rayyan players, including Koh, may be eager to play at their new home. Qatar decided to demolish Al Rayyan's old stadium, known as Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium, and decided to build a new one from scratch on the same site for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The last time Al Rayyan played a match on their original home soil was in 2014. The new Al Rayyan Stadium, which will have a capacity of 40,000 spectators, will double the former arena's size.
It's scheduled to be finished in 2019, according to the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, the organizing body responsible for infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup.
"The old stadium had no cooling system, and had limited space," said Abdulla Al-Fehani, Al Rayyan Stadium's project manager.
"Because it was chosen as one of the venues for the 2022 World Cup, it needed to comply with FIFA standards."
But even if it's a new stadium, Al Rayyan fans and players may have a feeling of coming home when it opens. Al-Fehani said about 85 percent of the construction materials are being reused or recycled from the old venue.
"Our focus is sustainability," he said. "We have done special demolition (of the old stadium) where we have to salvage many items, including seats, structures, sands and electric items."
According to the SC, even trees that were planted around the old stadium have been retained for future use, minimizing damage to the natural environment.
Due to the use of recycled items, it is also a cost-efficient project, according to Al-Fehani, although an exact projected cost for Al Rayyan Stadium construction has not been revealed.
And the organizers don't need to build many new buildings or roads at the site -- the infrastructure is already there.
"What's so special about this area is that this area was already developed three years ago," Al-Fehani said, speaking in English. "The Mall of Qatar was opened in 2016. It's really amazing that this whole are area already has a big infrastructure."
Al Rayyan Stadium is only about 20 kilometers west of Doha. A metro station is about a 10-minute walk from the stadium, and there will be shuttle buses to transport fans.
Al-Fehani said that fans will be impressed by the design of the stadium and surrounding complex when they arrive at the site in four years' time. He claimed that it will be "one of its kind" in Qatar.
"It will be one of the rare buildings that will have (a) glowing facade," he said. "People will also enjoy dune-shaped hospitality areas."
It has yet to be confirmed how many matches will be played at the new Al Rayyan Stadium during the 2022 World Cup, but the organizers said the venue will be used through the quarterfinals stage.
After the first World Cup in the Arab world is over, people may be able to find Al Rayyan Stadium features in other parts of the world. The SC said half of the stadium's 40,000 seats will be removed and donated to football development projects abroad.
The reduced capacity means Al Rayyan players could enjoy the same old intimate football atmosphere again -- but with upgraded facilities.
Other sporting facilities -- such as cricket pitches, an aquatics center and tennis courts -- will be opened to the community, thereby extending the site's sporting legacy. (Yonhap)