England and Wales fans are gearing up for their World Cup showdown, as it emerged £1 million has been spent on alcohol to cater for Red Wall supporters in Qatar.
The so-called “Battle of Britain” – which will see both home nations go head-to-head as Group B rivals – is set to take place on Tuesday from 7pm UK time.
England landed the first blow off the pitch over the weekend as their supporters triumphed over their Welsh counterparts in the final of a five-a-side football tournament in Doha, despite losing to them in the opening game.
Wales’ World Cup ambitions are hanging by a thread and they must win on Tuesday if they are to have a chance of progressing to the knockout stages, while England top the group and need just a point to reach the last 16.
Iran’s win over Wales left members of the travelling Red Wall feeling “sombre”.
But fans said the set-back had not stopped them from enjoying their time in Qatar – as the organiser behind a series of match day parties for Wales fans said £1 million had been spent on alcohol.
Welsh sports journalist Rhodri Williams, who is now one of the anchors on Qatar’s Al-Kass Sports Channel, said he had bought around six tonnes of alcohol for the fan events being thrown at the Intercontinental the City hotel in Doha.
Mr Williams, who is a partner in three of the hotel’s restaurants, said the drinks had to be delivered in six lorries-full and included draught and bottled beer, wine and spirits – included imported Welsh whiskey from the Penderyn distillery based in the Brecon Beacons.
Each pre and post-match parties, organised by Gol Cymru, have catered for between 1,600-1,900 supporters.
Such was the demand for alcohol at the before Wales v USA bash that the high-tech flash cooling machines stopped working as they were unable to keep up with the number of pints being ordered.
Asked how he thought Red Wall members would be feeling ahead of their clash with England on Tuesday, Mr Williams told the PA news agency: “There’s nothing like a glimmer of hope. A win is not impossible.
“Watching England not hold the USA off like they thought they would was a shock to everyone and just shows anything can happen in a game of football.
“On Tuesday I expect another wonderful, fun-filled day full of Welsh passion, hope and belief.
“And whatever happens, fans will be proud of the players,” he added.
“We have an unbelievably bright future ahead.
“We’re certainly not done as a footballing nation attending major championships – this is just the beginning.”
Rhodri Bevan from Newport, who is in Qatar with three friends and their father, described the atmosphere in Doha as “like a festival” but said the Metro journey back from the previous game was “sombre”.
He added: “We’re here as part of the World Cup and there’s still a lot to play for.
“Speaking to a lot of fans here in Qatar, a lot of them are very pessimistic about the England game and have written Wales off, but it’s a case of just getting behind the team, getting behind the boys.
“Unless we’re very lucky this could be our last game in the World Cup so let’s go out with a bang.
“Let’s go out fighting. Let’s go out with a bit of pride.
“Let’s show the world what we actually are made of because the last game did not do us justice.”
Mr Bevan said so far the experience had been “fantastic” and said “the atmosphere is lovely” despite having to be relocated after he arrived at the Fan Village where they had booked to stay – only to be told there were no cabins available.
“It was disappointing, and quite stressful at the time but ultimately we’re in better place now because it’s a fully air-conned apartment,” he said.
“But the stadiums are the best I’ve ever experienced, the show they put on is spectacular.”
Elsewhere, Three Lions’ fan Garford Beck was in a confident mood after leading the England men’s supporters’ team to victory in their tournament over the weekend.
Civil servant Mr Beck, 60, who lives in London, said they lost the opening game of the tournament 1-0 to Wales.
But two penalty shoot-out victories following 0-0 draws led them to the final – where they defeated Wales 1-0.
He joked: “I scored the goal and I haven’t played football for at least 20 years, probably 25.”
Mr Beck said it was great to be with fans from other countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, adding: “Let’s hope it’s a portent of things to come.”
On England’s chances, Mr Beck said: “Oh very good. I think there’s no need to panic.”