DOHA: European football giants Barcelona are set to play Qatar in a friendly here in Doha, Spanish media has reported.
Barcelona, who have just two fixtures remaining this season, are expected to play the match on May 28 or 29, according to a report in Sport newspaper.
If the match does indeed take place, it would be coach Pep Guardiola’s final game in charge of Barcelona.
Barcelona, who are no longer in contention for the La Liga title, take on Betis on May 12 before their Spanish Cup final game against Athletic Club on May 25.
Guardiola, who guided Barcelona to six trophies in his first season as coach in 2008-2009, announced last month that he was stepping down from his post at the end of the season.
The match – which is yet to be confirmed by local officials – is likely to be held at Al Sadd Stadium, the country’s only football facility with cooling technology.
Another newspaper El Mundo Deportivo also hinted that the clash is more or less confirmed.
Three days ago, Barcelona President Sandro Rosell and Vice President Ramon Pont visited Al Sadd Club and met with local officials.
Rosell and Pont, besides witnessing Al Sadd players at a training session, met with club coach Jorge Fossati.
The Barcelona delegation also visited the Qatar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital (Aspetar), Qatar Foundation and the Museum of Islamic Art.
According to a tentative schedule, Barcelona will fly out on a chartered plane for about a group of 30 soon after their Spanish Cup final against Athletic Club.
Guardiola’s presence in Doha is certain to add credence to rumours that that the former Barcelona player may sign a football-related deal with Qatar Football Association (QFA).
In February this year, the 41-year-old was reported to have been offered a lucrative deal by QFA to coach the Qatar national team.
This reported offer came on the heels of interest shown by Italian giants AC Milan and top Russian club CSKA Moscow.
In his first season as manager, Barcelona won the treble of La Liga, the Copa del Rey, and the Champions League.
In doing so, Guardiola became the youngest UEFA Champions League-winning manager ever.
Guardiola, who played for Qatar Stars League (QSL) club Al Ahli from 2003 to 2005, was one of the Ambassadors of Qatar’s successful 2022 FIFA World Cup bid.
“I can tell you that I lived for two years in Qatar and my family and I received wonderful treatment,” Guardiola said when he signed up as a Bid Ambassador. “Qatar is opening up to the western world and I think that we often don’t understand the Muslim world, nor they (understand) us,” he said at the time.
“In that sense, the people I met, the culture and the country I discovered, that is the main reason (I joined Qatar’s bid. The football World Cup has been to South Africa, to Europe and the rest of the world but not been held in the Middle East,” Guardiola said.
The Qatar football season ends on May 12 when Al Sadd take on Al Gharafa in the final of the Emir Cup, the country’s most popular football event.
Barcelona, by far the most popular football club for fans in Doha, has a jersey deal worth running into millions of dollars with Qatar Foundation.The Peninsula