China’s Wu Lei hails Qatar’s stadium cooling technology

7 December 2017

China’s star forward Wu Lei has joined his equally high-profile teammate Zhang Linpeng in showering praise on the pioneering stadium cooling technology developed by Qatar.

In September, the 26-year-old winger had first-hand experience of the cooling system used at Khalifa International Stadium, the first completed 2022 FIFA World Cup tournament venue.

Lei, who was a nominee for this year’s Asian Player of the Year, told that the innovative technology was a major factor in his team’s second half comeback in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Qatar.

“I had a great experience at Khalifa Stadium,” said Lei, who was speaking at the AFC Annual Awards in Bangkok. “So too did my teammates. The cooling was really nice and it helped our physical conditioning and gave us greater stamina. It is a blessing for players.”

The match was played in 24 degrees Celsius, despite the mercury tipping 38 degrees outside the stadium. The temperature was maintained inside the venue for the benefit of players and fans throughout the 90 minutes.

It was the first international to be played at the redeveloped facility, which was inaugurated in May this year ahead of the Emir Cup final between Al Sadd and Al Rayyan.

Shanghai SIPG attacker Lei came on as a substitute in the 56th minute. He set up China’s equaliser before lashing home the winner nine minutes from time to secure a 2-1 win for his country.

“The cooling created the perfect match condition for players and fans, and added to the grandeur of the redeveloped stadium,” said Lei, who has won 48 caps for China.

“The redevelopment work was on the verge of completion when I was in Doha in January with my club for pre-season training. I thought then that I would love to play in the completed stadium. The icing on the cake was that I scored the winner when I did.”

However, Lei has not had his fill of playing in the venue, which will also host the 2019 World Athletics Championships.

“Though we did not qualify for Russia, I am confident China will feature in the 2022 World Cup and I look forward to coming back to the stadium and continuing my good form,” he added with a smile.

Should China qualify for Asia’s second FIFA World Cup – after being part of the continent’s first tournament in 2002 – Lei will embark with no doubts whatsoever on the range and quality of Qatar’s football infrastructure.

“The training ground at Aspire Zone is one of the best I have been to,” he said. “The pitches and facilities at Aspire Academy are of a high quality. Aspire has a great hotel and a shopping mall nearby which helps players to unwind. So Qatar has a perfect atmosphere for a player to both train and relax.”