Now Qatar has also been embarrassed in sporting terms

epa10316587 Pedro Miguel of Qatar reacts after losing the opening match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup group A between Qatar and Ecuador at the Al Bayt stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, on November 20, 2022. EPA/Friedemann Vog .. .

Pedro Miguel and the Qatari team disappointed across the board in the opening match.Image: cornerstone

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Qatar invested heavily in making their national team competitive in time for their home World Cup and had high hopes of progressing. The opening game showed: Qatar has not lost anything in a World Cup.

Nicholas Helbling

The euphoria among the Qataris was great before this World Cup. At least the country and the team thought they had a chance to progress from abroad. They had invested a lot of money in building this one. The construction of the training ground alone, the “Aspire Academy”, is said to have cost more than 1.2 billion Swiss francs. It was completed in 2004 and has served as a training ground for top clubs like Bayern Munich and PSG ever since.

Other levers were also put in place to be ready in time for the greatest of all football events, also from a sporting point of view. In 2006, Félix Sánchez, junior coach of FC Barcelona, ​​was hired for the “Aspire Academy”. The Spaniard accompanied many of the current internationals through the youth teams and led the under-19s to the Asian championship title in 2014.

Sánchez, who took charge of the senior team in 2017, was given full freedom. Even the national league calendar was adjusted according to his wishes, so that he could bring the national players together again and again to optimally prepare for the World Cup.

The Asian Championship triumph followed in 2019, which really fueled hopes in Qatar. Prior to that, the country had only qualified for the continental championship four times, advancing to the group stage only once. Qatar was also allowed to participate in the Copa América (South America) and the Gold Cup (North and Central America). In the latter case, it was enough to reach the semifinals and a respectable success. That is why the Qataris believed they were competitive in this World Cup.

This was followed by an appearance in the opening game. A weak, unimaginative and lifeless performance. Qatar was inferior in all aspects. On a footballing, physical, tactical and even intensity level, despite the advantage of playing at home. And not against one of the favourites, no, against Ecuador. Especially at the beginning, the South Americans could do whatever they wanted. Qatar, on the other hand, did not see land.

The fans realized early on that their team had no chance. After just 12 minutes, they were cheering enthusiastically when a Qatari defender headed an opponent’s corner from the penalty area. Ecuador is one of the supposedly weaker participants in this World Cup.

And yet, it took less than three minutes before the ball landed in the Qatari goal for the first time. Goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb looked anything but good. He was then saved from an offside by the minimum that would not have been decisive for the goal. A good ten minutes later, the goalkeeper made the following mistake. He put the pipe in a duel with Enner Valencia, who broke into the goal, and deserved a penalty.

The best moments with the goal disallowed starting at minute 0:15 and the penalty scene immediately after. Video: YouTube/SRF Sport

Nothing was right with Qatar. The team barely made it out of their own half, often (much) too late in the duels and usually only knew how to help themselves with fouls. This led to the third yellow card after just 36 minutes. They lacked the ideas offensively and the correct assignment defensively. When the score was 2-0 in the 31st minute, Valencia, with a height of 1.77 m who is not a giant, headed the ball without problems. He didn’t even have to jump correctly to get the ball. On the other hand, the first goal chance meant waiting until the fifth minute of discount in the first section. Almoez Ali’s header went wide of the goal.

After the break, the spectators enjoyed a poor game. SRF commentator Sascha Ruefer once speculated about a pact between the teams and actually gave the impression that they had agreed on the result. A Qatari rebellion in the second half? none. Ecuador barely had to do anything and was never in serious danger. So Qatar did not fire a single shot on goal until the end. There was no sign of all the investment and effort to make the team competitive in time for this World Cup.

Ecuador's players celebrate after Ecuador's Enner Valencia scored his team's first goal against Qatar during a World Cup group A soccer match at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, Sunday, November 10, 2019.

Big applause from the Ecuadorians.Image: cornerstone

After the many reports leading up to the World Cup, exposing corruption, human rights abuses and other atrocities in connection with the tournament, Qatar has now been shamed in sporting terms as well. The tough opponents are yet to come. Ecuador was only the third strongest team in Group A after the Netherlands and Senegal. Qatar’s elimination already seems to be sealed after the first match of this World Cup.

And so, the euphoria has already subsided, interest in the national team has disappeared. After just 60 minutes, the lines were empty. Or as Ruefer put it: “Forget the fairy tale of football-mad Qatar. Nobody cares what’s going on here.”

With this appearance, there are no arguments to increase interest. Rather, it has confirmed the assumption of many that Qatar has not lost anything in the World Cup from a sporting point of view. The World Cup rookie is not only the only team not to qualify for the World Cup, but probably the only one that doesn’t really belong there.

The best images of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

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The best images of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

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