Spain v Costa Rica, Tuesday 23rd November 2022, 7pm

Our second game of the day was Spain against Costa Rica at the Al Thumama stadium. It’s in the south-west of Doha and so a decent trek from the Al Bayt stadium where we’d watched the earlier game. The direct bus between stadiums got us there in about an hour and a half, which was a much easier way of doing things than a combination of metros and buses.

We could see the ground from a fair distance away. It’s the one with the design based upon one of those little hats that you often see in this part of the world. We walked for around half an hour from the bus park to the ground, passing through what looked like an academy. Apparently former Everton Aussie Tim Cahill is in charge of the Qatari youth system and they’ve certainly given him some decent facilities to work in.

Al Thumama was the smallest of the three stadiums that we’d seen at that point. Its capacity of forty-thousand will be further reduced after the tournament with half of the seats being given away. I’d like to think that some of the Northern or Wearside League teams might ask for a few as I think it would be interesting to have some World Cup seats supplementing their current facilities.

We were in Row B of the upper tier and once again had an excellent view, this time from behind a goal. There was a television studio to our left and it was noticeable how little time the pundits spent looking out of the window at the live action. Any analysis that they broadcast must have come mainly from watching the match on tv. It all seemed a bit pointless them being there really if they were going to spend almost all of their time with their backs to the pitch.

The food options were limited, but the five pound chicken shawarma was better value than the nine quid burger that I’d had in the previous ground. I washed it down with a couple of cans of Bud 0%, primarily to add the souvenir beakers to my World Cup collection.

Spain were so much sharper than Costa Rica, embarrassingly so, and had the win sewn up by half-time before emptying their bench at the earliest opportunity and still managing to put seven past their opponents.

The transportation arrangements worked well again and after a brisk walk back to the bus park we were soon back into town and then off to the boat to watch the remainder of the final game of the day on the big screen.

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