Pure gold doesn't need a medal

Khalfan Fahad's astonishing open-goal miss for Qatar in the first minute of extra time against Uzbekistan has become a

    It is the biggest moment of any Asian Games. The single moment that millions of people will remember. You may have already seen it.

    If you missed that little hint, it's here. Yes, here.

    Khalfan Fahad's astonishing open-goal miss for Qatar in the first minute of extra time against Uzbekistan came in a football match that few would otherwise have paid any attention to.

    Even those of us at the game here in Guangzhou, who threw our hands to our heads in amazement at Fahad's error, didn't realise just how big it would become.

    But once the 18-year-old's blunder went out on Al Jazeera Sport, there was no stopping it.

    By Wednesday morning, it was being shown on the BBC and Sky News in Britain, and was in the process of being uploaded to YouTube, where the hits will just keep coming. And coming. And coming.

    Fahad, a graduate of Qatar's acclaimed Aspire Academy, is not being victimised. But he will have to have a strong head on his young shoulders if he is not to become a victim.

    To get this amount of attention, he would probably have to score the winner in the World Cup final. But mistakes like this make great viewing no matter what competition you are in. It is pure gold. If the cameras are there, you can kiss goodbye to anonymity.

    The Asian Games is an important tournament with great athletes and exciting competition. But is anyone spitting out their cornflakes watching South Korea's Park Tae-Hwan win gold in the 200m freestyle swimming? Nope. Fahad's wooden spoon shines brighter than all the medals at Guangzhou 2010.

    When it happened, I filed to the effect that it was one of the worst misses ever seen in international football. I was kind. It was the worst I've seen.

    There is some stiff competition in the domestic game. Very stiff.

    Fahad is a talent. He showed brilliant opportunism as he capitalised on Uzbek goalkeeper Timur Juraev's mistake and sprinted to the goalline.

    He could have done any of a thousand things to score at that point. Tap the ball in with your right foot, Khalfan. Walk it into the net, Khalfan. Get your grandmother down from the stands to come and score it for you, Khalfan. Anything except wrap your left foot around it and spoon it into the far post.

    If Juraev hasn't sent you a very large present, he should be ashamed of himself. Uzbekistan, of course, went on to score and win 1-0.

    All Fahad really did was miss an opportunity. He messed up to a ridiculous degree. All of us have done it, it's just most of us have only to answer to ourselves and our immediate circle. We don't have our blunders popping up on Google if ever we're tempted to type in our name.

    "It's a bad moment for him but he's a young player and he's got to forget this one, otherwise he can't go on with football or with his life" Fahad's teammate Mohammed Salah Elneel told me after the match.

    Too right. Worse things happen at sea, of course, but a young man could tie himself in knots trying to get over this sort of thing.

    Hopefully, the Al Rayyan striker can get back to the Qatar Stars League, encounter some training-ground banter, and start to laugh at himself. By the time he plays for Qatar in World Cup 2022, it could all be forgotten. But don't bet on it.


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