Disappointment in opening game against Ecuador

Not less than the hopes of an entire region is what Félix Sánchez has to shoulder these days, and if he does during the opening game between Qatar and Ecuador should have forgotten for an unlikely moment, a Kuwaiti questioner reminded him after the final whistle. The man wanted to know when the Arab world could finally celebrate the first goal and an improved host team. But Sánchez, before he could answer, really looked like someone who is heavy to carry. “Well, we know we can play better and we’ll try to do that in the next game,” said the coach.

Who the opening game, this 2-0 for Ecuador and the playful ease with which the South Americans achieved this result, suspects that it will probably remain an attempt. That Qatar on Friday (2:00 p.m. in FAZ live ticker for the World Cup, on ARD and on MagentaTV) meets Senegal and not the Dutch, who are rated even stronger, hardly plays a role. The hosts presented themselves too weakly to even have a chance in this tournament.

“We hardly managed to sell four balls in a row,” said Sánchez. Which was by no means exaggerated, rather euphemistic. Four? That’s about how many successful passes Qatar had throughout the first half. Or so it felt. “Ecuador deserved to win. We never got to our level,” said Sánchez.

At Qatar the nerves fail

Level, that’s what his players had repeatedly proven in the past months and years. 2019 Asian champions, before the World Cup there was a respectable draw against Chile (2-2), former Copa America winners. Plus the long preparation. This raised hopes and created certain claims. Unlike his 31 colleagues, Sánchez was able to dispose of his players almost freely, and weeks of training camps and courses were intended to prepare the team for the big event. When the time came, my nerves gave out before the eyes of the world.

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