Qatar And Ecuador Coaches Reacts Following Group A Opener In The 2022 FIFA World Cup.

 The 2022 FIFA World Cup kicked-off on Sunday, November 20 with a spectacular fireworks display, and played host to Hollywood star Morgan Freeman and Korean pop sensation Jung Kook among several others.

The opening ceremony was held in front of the 60,000 tent-shaped capacity Al Bayt Stadium located in the city of Al Khor, Qatar. The $850million air-conditioned facility was specifically built for the World Cup.

The theme of the opening ceremony is a gathering for all mankind, bridging differences through humanity, respect and inclusion.

Qatar who have been preparing for this World Cup for a long time, were hoping to put up an impressive performance in front of their home fans, by giving them a dream start to the tournament, but rather, it turned into a nightmare for players and fans alike.

This was the first World Cup appearance for the Qatari national team, nicknamed the Maroons, as they suffered a devasting 2-0 defeat to South American side Ecuador.

Enner Valencia’s thought he had scored after heading in a cross in the third-minute, but after a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) check, it was ruled out for offside against teammate Michael Estrada. 

Nevertheless, Valencia was destined to score the tournaments opening goal, as it did not take long for the experienced striker to open the scoring.

Having been brought down in the box by Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al-Sheeb, he converted from the spot 15 minutes into the game.

The 33-year-old Fenerbahce striker doubled the lead in the 31st minute when he headed home a cross from Angelo Preciado to make it 2-0 for Ecuador going into the half-time break.

Qatar who were under pressure to perform in front of their home fans, retuned in the second-half a better team but it would yield no goals as they had only three touches in the Ecuador box across 90 minutes. 

The South American team Ecuador held on to advantage to claim all three points in the Group A opener.

It was a dreadful start from the hosts, as Qatar become the first host Country in history to lose their opening World Cup match.

Qatar boss Félix Sánchez admitted the occasion got to his team, that his team never recovered after a bad start to the game;

"We didn't start the way we wanted to. I think the occasion got to us a bit at the start and​​​​​​​ that set the tone for the rest of the game... He said.

"We lacked confidence, we conceded goals very early on and we really struggled to get into the game against a team that played really well. 

"They were better than us in every area."

Felix Sanchez had led Qatar to their first-ever Asian Cup title in 2019 and is by all accounts a good coach but the terrible nature of his debut on the biggest stage has put a doubt to his coaching abilities. 

On the other hand, Enner Valencia who played for West Ham United and Everton across three Premier League seasons, scoring 11 times in 72 appearances, was given the first Man of the Match award of the tournament.

He has now scored the same amount of World Cup goals (5) as Lionel Messi and Zinedine Zidane. 

As it stands, the captain fantastic is now the country's all-time leading goalscorer at the FIFAWorldCup having scored Ecuador's last five World Cup goals. He is also the leader in the Golden Boot race.

Although Valencia was replaced by José Cifuentes, a defensive change, as he was forced of with an Injury in the second-half, Ecuador will hope it's nothing major, as they prepare for their second match against group favorites Netherlands on Friday, November 25.

They now have a real chance of qualifying from Group A, and Qatar look as though their chances might be zero as they face African champions Senegal on the same day.

Ecuador boss Gustavo Alfaro stated the importance of getting the World Cup campaign off to a good start:

“It was the most important game of the World Cup for us. 

"Not only were we kicking off the tournament against the host nation, we had to fight against history, which sometimes works in your favour or sometimes goes against you, depending on certain things. But this group of players is above that. 

"They're really committed, which is what allowed us to win this game.” 

Alfaro also unsurprisingly spoke of his happiness at his team's display after the game:

“I have to give the team credit for their attitude, their commitment, the way they played, the way they went for it.Especially after we suffered a setback at the start of the game with the goal that was disallowed for offside. 

"We kept going after that. I think we were really clear winners, we won convincingly. I hope it’s the start of something big.

“This is just the beginning for us. We need to show that we’re capable of doing it again in the upcoming matches.”

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