Qatar became the host nation with the worst start in World Cup history
For Qataris, the 2022 World Cup is a dream come true, even if it's a dream built with a lot of money and criticism. But, in the Qatari team's opening match against Ecuador last night, the dream was dashed partly when Qatar became the first home team in World Cup history to lose in the first match.
In the past, the 22 host teams won 16 and drew only six in their opening match.
Many Qatar fans left early after the home team took a 2-0 lead over Ecuador in the opening match of the 2022 World Cup. That is a signal that partly reflects the poor matchup of the home team.
In the stands, Qatar fans lack zeal. On the field, the Qatar players played professionally and mentally.
Qatar has been preparing for more than a decade to build a team for the World Cup. They build academies at home and in Europe, send the best players to the top football nations, and make conditions for the national team to go abroad to play with other teams.
Over the past two years, coach Felix Sanchez and his students on the national team have traveled from South America, CONCACAF, to Europe. They called up players and practiced for eight months. During this time, Qatar had 21 friendly matches, both official and unofficial, against 4 European teams, 2 African teams, 6 CONCACAF representatives, 1 South American team, and 8 football clubs. They operate more like a professional club than a national team, where the players usually only play together a few times a year. The Qataris believe that a team that has trained together for many years and is well-built can help them play in the 2022 World Cup.
However, they had a disappointing performance. From the first minutes against Ecuador, Qatar showed that they do not have the best mentality for the "dream" of the World Cup.
Spectators can easily see the lack of confidence when holding the ball and passing the ball, as well as the awkwardness and a lot of openings in the defense.
Also, the Qatari team did not have a shot on target in the match against Ecuador, while the guests made 6 shots (3 on target) and got 2 goals. Ecuador has an expected goal index (xG) of 1.16 (including penalties), while Qatar has a 0.45 xG.
In this game, the South American representative played leisurely, and it was not too difficult to win against the host team. Enner Valencia, who is no longer as powerful as he was in the Premier League, still proves to be superior to Qatar.
Fenerbahce's striker scored twice and was the best player of the match. The South American representative does not have too many famous names in the squad, but the team play and the superiority in skills help them have a victory easily.
Against expectations, the Qatari team was confused from the beginning of the game, and goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb's mistake came as an inevitable consequence. Qatar's passing accuracy rate in the first half was 74%, the lowest in World Cup history, while Ecuador's figure was 83%.
Almoez Ali missed the home team's best chance of the game. The striker born in 1996 was once one of the most anticipated young talents in Qatari football. However, after many years, he can still only play for Al-Duhail, the domestic team.
Psychological pressure and professional qualifications may be barriers that prevent Ali from scoring. In the past, the Qatar team has had impressive performances against national teams that are not inferior to Ecuador. Last year, Qatar reached the CONCACAF Cup final and they are also the defending Asian champion. But in the most important tournament of their career, they need to show more.
Risk of early elimination
The loss to Ecuador increases the risk of Qatar being eliminated early from the tournament in its home country. Even, they may be the host team with the worst record in World Cup history.
No host team has lost their first World Cup match in 92 years, with the exception of Qatar.
In 2010, the South African team was also underestimated before the World Cup started. The host country of the 2010 World Cup also could not pass the group stage, but the impression they left after three matches was not bad.
At the 1994 World Cup, the US team also won 4 points, like South Africa, after finishing the group stage. These are the two most underrated host countries in the history of the World Cups and have a pretty bad record of not being able to get past the group stage.
However, in the 2022 World Cup, Qatar is in danger of ending the tournament with a score worse than that of the US or South Africa in the past. Both Senegal and the Netherlands, the two remaining opponents in Group A, are rated higher than Ecuador. The possibility of Qatar winning 4 points in the remaining two matches of the group stage is quite low if you look at their performance and spirit on the opening day
Therefore, do not be surprised if Qatar becomes the home team with the worst record in World Cup history. It is even possible that they will finish the group stage with three defeats.