It’s nominally a neutral venue, but the Socceroos enter a hostile atmosphere when they face Peru in their World Cup play-off in Qatar.
Up to 12,000 Peruvian fans are expected to descend on Doha ahead of Monday’s game (04:00 Tuesday AEST) at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium as they try to cheer on the South American nation at the 2022 World Cup.
By contrast, there are expected to be around 500 Australian fans in the stands, meaning all Australian green and gold is going to be lost amid a sea of red and white.
Most of Peru’s support is expected to come from the country’s diaspora, with around 3.5 million of the country’s people having emigrated abroad, including large populations in Italy, Spain and France.
There is even a group of Australia-based Peruvians in Doha calling themselves the “Pe-roos” who have hedged their bets with bespoke shirts bearing gold Socceroos on one side and white with a distinctive red belt from the Peru on the other.
An indication of the passionate support the Peruvians will enjoy for the game was shown as they arrived at their team hotel on Friday night, with a crowd of fans chanting “Peru, Peru!” as their heroes walked through the hall.
Although the numbers are by no means in Australia’s favour, those who have traveled to support Graham Arnold’s side are ready to do their part to spur the Socceroos to a fifth consecutive World Cup.
“We’re very confident that we can make enough noise and rally enough support to get the team over the line,” Sydneysider Adrian Brent told AAP.
“Although we may not have a megaphone, we went out and bought some whistles and horns, so we’ll be bringing a lot of noise and passion on Monday night.”
Brent, who originally planned to support the Socceroos at the 2020 Copa America before the COVID-19 pandemic derailed that trip, traveled with a group of five to Doha and was in the stands for the 2-1 victory in the play-off against the United Arab Emirates last Tuesday (Wednesday AEST).
The trip has already been a memorable one for those who traveled to Qatar from Australia, with a small group of fans invited to watch training on Thursday before meeting the players for photos and autographs.
Socceroos captain Maty Ryan says the team appreciates those who have made the effort to come out and support them, even though it is a much smaller cohort than Peru will have in their corner .
“The more support we can get the better and it always makes a difference,” Ryan told AAP.
“We’ve always encouraged as many Australians – or anyone with a connection to Australia – who wants to come out and support us, to try to do so.
“Applaud as loudly as possible and support the team.”