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Qatar makes FIFA WC debut against Ecuador in tournament opener

By Dugout Philippines

MANILA–All eyes will be on host nation Qatar as they kick off the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Ecuador in Group A action Monday (Philippine Time); the only match to be played on this day.

Ranked 50th in the world, World Cup debutants Qatar will not have it easy when they face Ecuador as they return to football’s biggest event after an eight-year absence.

Since September 2022, the Maroon, as Qatar is nicknamed, has accumulated a 6-1-2 slate. In last year’s Arab Cup, Qatar went 4-0 before being ousted in the semifinals by Algeria, 2-1, after a late goal by Mohammed Belaili. 

Qatar will be led by forwards Ali Almoez and Mohammed Muntari, midfielder Abdulaziz Hatem, defender Boualem Khouki, and goalkeeper Saad El Sheeb.

Also in their group are the current African champions Senegal and the Netherlands.

There will be much pressure on first-time World Cup coach Felix Sanchez Bas’ squad as they hope to make it out of the group stage.

Should they be unable to do so, they will be the second host nation–after South Africa in 2010–to fail to advance after the first round. 

Ecuador or La Tri will also enter the match with scrutiny as they were nearly expelled after fielding Byron Castillo who was the subject of complaints by Chile and Peru saying he was born in Colombia. Although the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in favor of Ecuador, Castillo was left out of the squad. 

The only veteran from the 2014 campaign is goalkeeper Alex Dominguez. 

Gustavo Alfaro’s 2022 World Cup squad qualified when they finished fourth with a 7-5-6 record in South American Football Confederation World Cup qualifying. In that qualifying tournament, they scored 27 goals. Only Brazil scored more.

Ecuador stunned Uruguay, 4-2, and drew 1-1 with Brazil and Argentina. 

Players to watch out for Ecuador include Pervis EstupiƱan who creates a lot of chances for his side despite playing left-back, forward Enner Valencia, winger Gonzalo Plata, and midfielder Moises Caicedo. 

The match between Qatar and Ecuador will be played at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor where the host nation has had much success winning by an aggregate score of 9-0.

Also in Group A are Senegal and the Netherlands. 

The Qatar-Ecuador match will be televised on World Cup TV this coming Nov. 21 at 12 a.m. on Skycable and Cignal as well as via the TapGo TV streaming application.  

Also being shown on World Cup TV over TapGo TV is the World Cup Qualification Magazine Show, The Journey, Qatar Prepares, and The World Cup Opening Ceremony.

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