The massive swathes of empty seats within the second half summed up the Qatar soccer workforce’s disappointing begin to its first ever World Cup.
The evening began with greater than 67,000 principally Qatari followers filling the cavernous Al Bayt Stadium, having fun with a gap ceremony that showcased the tiny Arab emirate to a world viewers 12 years after successful the suitable to host soccer’s largest occasion.
It ended with Qatar’s overmatched workforce trudging off the sector, its undesirable place in soccer historical past safe and with lots of its dismayed followers having lengthy disappeared.
The controversy-laced match opened Sunday with the 2019 Asian Cup champions getting outplayed in a 2-0 loss to Ecuador, guaranteeing a number workforce misplaced its opening sport for the primary time at a World Cup.
“I might say we felt dangerous (for our supporters),” Qatar coach Felix Sanchez mentioned. “I hope within the subsequent sport they are going to be prouder.”
Ecuador captain Enner Valencia scored each of his workforce’s objectives within the first half of a one-sided sport that wound up being a damage-limitation train for Qatar on one of many largest nights within the nation’s historical past.
‘One of many worst shows by a number nation to open a match’
The match passed off after a colourful 30-minute opening ceremony — fronted by Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman and attended by highly effective dignitaries together with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — that promoted inclusivity and mankind dwelling “underneath one tent.”
For a lot of, that will jar with this World Cup being internet hosting by an emirate the place gay acts are unlawful, one which has come underneath sturdy criticism for a way migrant employees have been handled constructing stadiums and match infrastructure since Qatar received the scandal-shrouded vote in 2010.
The yearslong scrutiny was by no means going to cease simply because play on the sector lastly entered the narrative of a match dogged by human-rights controversies, but a win for the host nation would have at the least put a good mild on Qatar, soccer-wise.
As a substitute, Qatar’s gamers, contemporary from spending seven months collectively in a pre-tournament coaching camp underneath Sanchez, froze in entrance of an expectant crowd and a disciplined Ecuador workforce that may simply pose a hazard to extra high-profile opponents over the subsequent few weeks.
“That is simply the beginning of the World Cup,” mentioned the 33-year-old Valencia, who has now scored Ecuador’s final 5 objectives on the World Cup, together with three in 2014. “We now have to maintain dreaming.”
In what may go down as one of many worst shows by a number nation to open a match, Qatar had 5 pictures within the match and none of them had been on the right track. The workforce had solely two touches contained in the opposition penalty space.
Put merely, Ecuador was simply too good for a workforce solely taking part in on the World Cup as a result of it’s the host.
“I wouldn’t say we had been naïve,” Sanchez mentioned. “I might say this was about nervousness … possibly we had too many doubts.”
Up subsequent, Qatar will look to bounce again towards Senegal on Friday.