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Five takeaways from Qatar’s World Cup opener against Ecuador

Five takeaways from Qatar’s World Cup opener against Ecuador

Durban — Qatar and Ecuador kicked off the 2022 edition of the Fifa World Cup on Sunday evening, with the South Americans bringing the hosts back to reality with a comprehensive defeat.

IOL Sport football writer Smiso Msomi provides five takeaways from Qatar’s clash against Ecuador.

1. The hosts crack under pressure

Rows of Qatar supporters contributed the majority of the 60 000 capacity Al Bayt Stadium, hoping for a magical opening day.

The hosts of a World Cup had never previously lost the opening game, however a few minutes into the match, reality quickly set in as Ecuador immediately showed their quality, sending the hosts into a spiral of confusion and panic.

The rafters of Maroon fans turned into silence 25 minutes into the match, contributing to the poor showing by the home team.

2. Untouchable Valencia

Ecuador captain Enner Valencia headed into the tournament as his country's all-time top scorer and extended his tally to 37 goals for his nation in the opening 30 minutes.

He led the early onslaught that saw La Tri establish a comprehensive lead and immediately announce their intentions for this year's competition.

The former West Ham United and Everton forward was untouchable, linking play and causing havoc on the Qatar defensive line.

3. Qatar lack quality

Qatar coach Felix Sanchez reportedly conducted a six-month camp with his team ahead of the World Cup as they looked to prepare for the visit of some of the best players in the world.

However, even with the amount of time spent in preparation, the quality of the opposition shone in this encounter as an Ecuadorian side made up of players from the Premier League rose head and shoulders above them.

The Brighton & Hove Albion duo of Moses Caicedo and Pervis Estupinian, alongside Valencia showed glimpses of their quality and that was enough to take them past Qatar.

4. Ecuador impenetrable

Gustavo Alfaro's Ecuador side headed into the tournament having kept six clean sheets in a row, a measure of their defensive abilities and resilience.

Although they were largely untroubled for the majority of the game, the centre back partnership of Piero Hincapie and Felix Torres ensured they kept their seventh clean sheet in as many matches.

5. Tactical capitulation and consideration

Prior to Sunday’s match, Qatar were branded as a team that limits the opposition's ability to create opportunities however they were quite the opposite in their preferred 5-3-2 formation.

Their attempts at shutting down potential danger were a dismal failure, and are cause for concern for Sanchez ahead of more difficult encounters against Senegal and the Netherlands.


IOL Sport

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