World Cup debutants Qatar and South America’s lowest-qualified nation Ecuador each know Sunday’s opener is their finest likelihood to win Group A earlier than going through a lot scarier rivals.
Qatar and Ecuador, ranked a lowly fiftieth and forty fourth on this planet respectively, will wrestle to progress as one of many high two of their group with out a win on the Al Bayt Stadium, the place the Center East’s first World Cup kicks off at 4 p.m. The extra daunting prospects of African champions Senegal and perennial powerhouse Netherlands await them subsequent.
Every, nevertheless, has trigger for quiet confidence. Qatar had extra time than most groups to bond throughout European camps, beating a number of Central American groups in latest friendlies and drawing confidence from their 2019 Asian Cup title.
Though many outsiders count on Qatar to get completely soiled in all three video games, the house followers know that strikers Akram Afif and Almoez Ali have each expertise and expertise and shall be praying that they’ll penetrate an Ecuador facet that themselves wrestle to attain on These days.
“Clearly I am not speaking about Qatar profitable the World Cup, however competing at a superb degree in opposition to the three groups is our problem,” mentioned coach Felix Sanchez.
“Then that is soccer, and also you by no means know what can occur.”
WC matches – 20 November
- Ecuador vs Qatar – Group A, kick-off 16.00
Ecuador are rightly favorites on Sunday, having moved into fourth and remaining place from arguably the world’s hardest qualifying marketing campaign. They boast some extra recognizable names than the Qataris, together with Premier League midfielder Moises Caicedo and veteran striker Enner Valencia.
“Consider us! We’re working as onerous as we will to deliver pleasure to the entire nation,” Valencia mentioned.
Qatar are sweating over the health of Ahmed Alaaeldin, who got here out of final week’s pleasant with an unspecified harm. Almoez Ali – the joint-leading scorer for his nation with 42 targets – is anticipated to accomplice Akram Afif up entrance if he’s declared match.
In defence, 130-cap Abdelkarim Hassan might assemble a five-man backline whereas captain Hassan Al-Haydos will see his a hundred and seventieth cap behind the forwards rather than Ali Asad.
Ecuador will select both Angelo Preciado or Robert Arboleda at proper again. Arboleda has simply recovered from an ankle fracture.
Moises Caicedo, Carlos Gruezo or Jeremy Sarmiento didn’t characteristic within the latest pleasant in opposition to Iraq however the trio are all anticipated to begin alongside striker Enner Valencia.
Ecuador purpose to seize World Cup likelihood after unusual fall of Castillo
Sky Sports activities’ Nick Wright:
Ecuador secured qualification for the 2022 World Cup again in March, nevertheless it wasn’t till November, lower than two weeks earlier than the beginning of the event, that their place in Qatar was confirmed.
Till then, the nation had been embroiled in a authorized dispute between defender Byron Castillo, with South American rivals Chile and Peru, who missed out on qualification however hoped to realize a spot at Ecuador’s expense, arguing he was ineligible to signify them.
Castillo featured in eight of Ecuador’s qualifying matches however the grievance stemmed from claims he was born in Tumaco, Colombia, in 1995, and never the Ecuadorian city of Common Villamill Playas in 1998, as acknowledged in his official paperwork.
The matter was referred to the Courtroom of Arbitration for Sport, which ultimately dominated that Castillo was in actual fact eligible, regardless of being born in Colombia and having used false details about his date and fatherland to acquire an Ecuadorian passport.
Ecuador had been hit with an £88,000 effective for utilizing false paperwork and can begin the South American 2026 World Cup qualifying marketing campaign with a three-point deficit, however they’ve arrived in Qatar hoping to take their likelihood after the postponement.
The irony of all of it is that Castillo, who performs for Mexican membership Leon, has not even been included in head coach Gustavo Alfaro’s 26-man squad for the event. Ecuador are eager to progress from the part, beginning with the opening match in opposition to hosts Qatar on Sunday. However Castillo’s shadow lingers over their participation.
Ought to they go additional than anticipated, Chile and Peru will not be the one nations complaining.
Elsewhere within the WC
Who does not like a gap ceremony?
Each groups will attempt to ignore the razzmatazz and the strain of a big international crowd, with way more focus than regular on what would in any other case be a less-than-appetizing sport for international spectators.
Even when they lose, Qatar will no less than need to keep away from humiliation and show they’re worthy of a spot, given the outpouring of criticism over governing physique FIFA awarding the event to a nation that had by no means certified earlier than.
They may even be joyful to kick a ball slightly than take care of their nation’s human rights controversies which reached a crescendo when the event arrived.
Ecuador, too, shall be relieved solely to exit after going through potential expulsion over a cost of fielding an ineligible participant.
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