Qatar Loses World Cup Opening Game: Resilient as Playdough – Sport


There are still things in the world that money can’t buy. For example, you can’t conjure up a desert of flowers out of every wasteland, like the ones found in the Atacama in northern Chile, at least every few years. At best, you can ruin stadiums in the sand for an absurd amount of money. And, as Sunday’s World Cup opening game showed, one can make every effort in the world and still fail in trying to conjure up a national team that lives up to the lowest international standards. In the opening match, hosts Qatar lost to Ecuador with 0:2 – and proved to be as resilient as modeling clay.

The game under the stylized concrete Bedouin tent set up in al-Khour was quickly so one-sided that the considerable number of Ecuadorian fans were able to devote themselves to coming to terms with the past. After only half an hour, they were jumping up and down and singing choruses about the almost neighboring country Chile, which could safely be classified as massively homophobic.

Such a thing does not violate the etiquette of the emirate, but it is said to violate that of the world association Fifa. The background to the abuse: The Chileans had indirectly ensured that a full-back named Byron Castillo was not allowed to play at the World Cup. They had accused this Castillo that he was not Ecuadorian at all but Colombian and that he had illegally participated in the qualifiers – with the aim of taking Ecuador’s place at the World Cup. The request failed, but maybe that would be the solution for Qatar A few open licensed bars at the Chilean delegation’s hotel with Arturo Vidal and the hosts’ chances of victory would have been better than they were on Sunday against a largely uninspired but physically strong Ecuador. Qatar’s upcoming opponents, Senegal and the Netherlands, can only lose while drunk.

After a three-minute VAR review, Ecuador’s goal is withdrawn

One of the Ecuadorians’ biggest concerns before the game was the notorious harmlessness in front of the opposing goal. As the teams warmed up, it was easy to see that the Ecuadorian fans took that same sorrow with them on their long journey to the Qatari desert. Because every time an Ecuador player scored from the edge of the box, which didn’t happen that often, there was a cheering that radiated half enthusiasm, half amusement. But: He was no comparison to the jubilation that prevailed after three minutes.

Qatar goalkeeper Saad Alsheeb rushed in from a cross from the six-yard box – proving that even in the desert you can give the impression of wanting to pick grapes. Alsheeb reached past the ball. An Ecuadorian tried a side kick, the ball landed on Enner Valencia’s head and he nodded off. That was of course a mood killer, especially in the honorary stand: a dream worth more than 200 billion euros – that’s roughly how much the World Cup is said to have cost at least – is seen rather reluctantly in 200 seconds. But lo and behold: after three minutes of rewinding, half an Ecuadorian lower leg was found in the background of a shot, which, using the various sub-paragraphs of the rules, justified an offside annulment.

But: The Ecuadorians only needed to get in front of goal one more time to take the lead again, this time unchallengeable. Enner Valencia broke into the penalty area, was hit in the shin by goalkeeper Alsheeb – and fell to the ground. There was no way around the instinctive penalty decision by the Italian referee Orsato. Valencia stepped up themselves, sent Alsheeb into the wrong corner and safely pushed the ball into the goal to take the lead (16′). Fifteen minutes later, the striker from Fenerbahce Istanbul was back – and with his second headed goal he made sure that he will now be called Emir Valencia and no longer Enner Valencia at home.

The game went so recognizable that the ranks at Al Bayt Stadium began to thin early in the second half. In the end, the stadium was all but empty, the men in elegant, ankle-length thob robes pushed out into the desert. Only the small group of fan actors made a racket until the end. Whatever they were paid, they displayed an exemplary work ethic. You’ve earned every penny.



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