The Middle Eastern nation have become the first team to lose a World Cup opener on home soil
Qatar suffered a loss to Ecuador in the 2022 FIFA World Cup opener as two goals from Ecuadorian captain Enner Valencia condemned the Qataris to become the first hosts to lose the opening fixture of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. tournament in 92 years of history.
After a controversial build-up that involved much of the Western media obsessed with Qatar’s human rights record, football finally kicked off on Sunday at the 60,000-seat Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, just north of Doha. .
Qatar nearly got off to the worst possible start after just three minutes when they failed to clear their lines with a free kick, allowing Ecuador captain Valencia to head home from close range.
But the goal was ruled out for offside after VAR intervened, sparking the first moment of World Cup controversy on the pitch – even though analysis shared by FIFA showed the decision was correct in due to a lost leg by Ecuadorian Michael Estrada.
Qatar were forced to absorb significant Ecuadorian pressure in the early stages, giving up almost two-thirds of possession, and the South Americans broke through in the 16th minute – again with Valencia at the heart of the things.
The striker was knocked down as he rounded hapless Qatari keeper Saad Al Sheeb, and Valencia rose to coolly score the tournament’s first goal kick.
The strike was a fourth World Cup goal for Valencia, adding to the three he scored in Brazil in 2014, and the first time the first World Cup goal had come from the penalty spot .
Valencia didn’t have to wait long to add to their tally, connecting with a well-placed header from an Angelo Preciado cross to double Ecuador’s lead in the 31st minute.
Qatar’s Spanish coach Felix Sanchez lay beleaguered from the touchline as his side watched unwanted World Cup history.
Qatar improved slightly as the first half progressed, netting an early shot and nearly closing the injury-time deficit when Almoez Ali headed wide with the goal at his mercy – although replays showed that would have been declared offside.
Ecuador largely played possession football at the start of the second half, but they pulled off an Al Sheeb save in the Qatari goal when he fended off an effort from Romario Ibarra.
There was a glimmer of attacking threat from Qatar after 62 minutes, when Portuguese-born Pedro Miguel touched a long ball into the Ecuadorian penalty area but his header slipped past team-mate Ali.
Ecuadorian hero Valencia was substituted for Jhon Cifuente in the 76th minute after picking up the injury but the Fenerbahce striker’s job was already done for his side.
Qatar substitute Mohammed Muntari fended off a golden chance late in the game with five minutes remaining but lifted his effort on Ecuador’s goal.
Ecuador picked up a 2-0 victory in a game that will have raised serious concerns among the Qataris about what they can bring to their own party in terms of football.
Ahead of the match, a colorful opening ceremony featured cameos from Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman and a performance from K-pop megastar Jung Kook, while Russia’s World Cup mascot from he four years ago, Zabivaka, was also part of the festivities.
Around 24 hours after strongly defending Qatar’s right to host the tournament and criticizing Western “hypocrisy”FIFA President Gianni Infantino gave a short speech before taking his seat to watch the action alongside Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman.
While this will be the 22nd edition of the World Cup, Qatar will be a tournament of firsts. Qatar is the first Arab nation to host the showpiece, the smallest country and the first to host the World Cup outside of the northern hemisphere’s summer months.
The Qatari side are also making their first-ever appearance at FIFA’s showpiece, which this year is by far the most expensive World Cup ever. By some estimates, Qatar has spent $220 billion on preparations since winning the hosting rights in 2010, more than 15 times what Russia spent to host the tournament four years ago.
Qatar and FIFA President Infantino hope at least some of the controversy surrounding the tournament will fade as football gets underway, with 64 games in total across eight venues, including the final at the Lusail stadium with 80,000 seats in December. 18.
After their opening game, Qatar seem to have their work cut out for them if they want to go beyond the group stage. They will then face Group A rivals Senegal on Friday before taking on the Netherlands the following Tuesday. The Dutch will face Ecuador on Friday.
The World Cup in Qatar shows that “human rights” are only a tool for the West