82.9 F
New York
Friday, June 21, 2024

All Eyes on Qatar as 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup Gets Under Way

Related Articles


Must read

By: Marvin A. Azrak

All eyes will be on Qatar over the next month as the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup begins at an unusual time. Play started over the weekend, with the matches and the atmosphere both exceeding hype and casting a distraction away from the controversy that is surrounding this tournament.  If you need a place to catch up on all that you missed or want to relive an enthralling first couple of days, this is the article for you.



After 92 countries had done it before them, Qatar finally had its chance to shine. But unfortunately, ever since it was announced in 2010 that they would be the 2022 World Cup hosts, the nation has faced accusations of corruption in the bidding process, mistreated migrate workers who built the stadiums, with many losing their lives, the legal battle over homosexuality, and has faced backlash over the switch of the tournament from summer to Winter. Then on Friday, Qatar officials banned alcohol sales in and around all 8 World Cup stadiums, meaning. FIFA couldn’t cash in on their $75 million deal with Budweiser. This led to an outcry from fans who chanted, “We want a beer” throughout Sunday’s match. But being the good sports that they are, Budweiser said they’ll save it until the end of the tournament and give it all to the winning country for a “Historic celebration.”

Yet amid all that, the show must go on, and it did on Sunday when Qatar kicked off group play against Ecuador, who hadn’t exactly made it here without controversy over ineligible tournament entries.

Entering the match, host countries were 92-0 in their opening tilts, but nobody told that to the 93rd host, who looked lifeless,  falling 2–0.

Two tallies from Enner Valencia in the first half were all it took to make Qatar the first host team to lose the opening match of its World Cup, but it could’ve been worse.

The festivities at the bedouin tent-inspired Al Bayt Stadium began with a glamorous opening ceremony featuring actor Morgan Freeman, BTS star Jung Kook, and mascots of past World Cups and culminated with fireworks.

Before the stadium countdown to the first kick could even be completed, the host nation started the match, trying to catch Ecuador napping with an early, direct long ball intO the box, to no avail.

In the third minute, an Ecuador free kick saw Pervis Estupiñán volley  the ball across the goal, where veteran forward Enner Valencia was waiting for the header and a quick 1-0 lead.

However, VAR review, using the new semi-automated offside technology, took it off the board, with Michael Estrada’s foot ruled to have been in an offside position in the build-up, nullifying the goal and keeping it 0-0. For those who are unaware, offsides in soccer are if he (any part of the head, feet, or body) is closer to the opponent’s goal line than the second to last defender and the ball – and he is in the opponent’s half of the field.

That was ruled here, and to the delight of Qatar fans, the game remained scoreless.

But Valencia did get his goal for Ecuador 10 minutes later, as age got behind the Qatari defense for a scoring chance but was interfered with by setting up a penalty kick. Valencia placed his penalty kick low and to the right while the goaltender Al Sheeb went the other way, giving Ecuador the 1–0 lead.

Valencia was at it again in the 31st minute, heading in his second of the game. Ecuador completely dominated the run of play and, after another Qatari turnover, capitalized for insurance.

Ángelo Preciado’s cross to the center of the box to his wingman made it 2–0, which is where it ultimately stayed.

England forward Raheem Sterling celebrates with teammates after scoring against Iran. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

The goals were Valencia’s fourth and fifth goals all-time at World Cups, making him his nation’s leading scorer in the competition, snapping a tie with Agustín Delgado. He has also scored Ecuador’s last five goals on the World Cup stage.

The hosts nearly seized momentum just before halftime. Qatar had Hassan Al-Haydos get free down the right side and serve in a cross for an unmarked Almoez Ali, but he whiffed on the header, instead glancing it wide of the mark, keeping it 2-0.

Al Sheeb was called into action 10 minutes into the second half for his first save of the game, with Romario Ibarra stinging the goalkeeper’s palms with a right-footed strike from 18 yards out.

Qatar then had a chance arise out of seemingly nowhere in the 61st minute, with right-back Pedro Miguel (who also goes by Ró-Ró) flashing into the center to meet a hopeful cross toward the top of the box. He won the header, but it was directed wide of the net. Akram Afif fired one from downtown in the 75th minute,  but It was knocked away.

As the clock wound down, the question was would the shutout remain intact, and it did despite Muhammad Muntari almost putting once over the shoulder of the Ecuador goalkeeper Hernán Galíndez and under the crossbar, only to have it go just over the bar.

The teams are grouped with Senegal and the Netherlands, who play their Group A opener on Monday. That was initially slated to be the competition’s opening match until FIFA moved Qatar-Ecuador a day earlier to give the host the spotlight. Unfortunately for Qatar, it wasn’t the kind of attention it wanted to receive. Now it’s left with two difficult matches as they avoid becoming just the second host nation (South Africa, 2010) to fail to make it out of the group stage.



Akin to the group opener, this was a defensive standoff before two late Dutch goals decided it.

In the 85th minute, Cody Gakpo broke the scoreless deadlock  by beating goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to the ball off a feed  from

Frenkie de Jong sending Netherlands fans into a frenzy. Moments later, substitute Davy Klaassen pounced on a rebound shot from Memphis  Depay in extra stoppage time to seal the deal. Senegal had their chances, despite the absence of leader Sadio Mane, before the Dutch eruption and came close to tying the match when Papa Gueye fired the ball toward the bottom left corner. Still, it was denied by goalkeeper Andries Noppert to preserve his ultimately successful shutout bid.



This was both a dream start for England and a nightmare beginning for Iran.

Bukayo Saka starred with a goal in each half in the England rout, who hope this is the first of many on their way of bringing the World Cup to it’s rightful spot.

The floodgates opened in this one when Iran goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand collided with an English player in the 19th minute and was eventually lifted off the turf on a stretcher.

England later put three past backup, Hossein Hosseini, and the rout was on from there. In the 35 minutes, Jude Bellingham leaped high and headed a Luke Shaw cross into the net for his team’s first of the tournament. Eight minutes later, Harry Maguire headed down a corner, and Bukayo Saka drove the ball home for goal No. 2 in the 43rd minute. Just before the halftime whistle,

Davy Klaassen of the Netherlands celebrates scoring his side’s second goal against Senegal. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)


The Americans have the youngest squad in the World Cup and will be trying to make up for failing to qualify for the dance in 2018, breaking a string of seven straight appearances. According to their website, “Twenty-five of 26 USMNT players have the opportunity to make their World Cup debuts. The remarkably youthful U.S. roster is the second youngest in Qatar, but is packed with potential — 14 of 26 players compete in the world’s top five leagues.” “Additionally, The 2022 team ties the 1990 USA side for most U-23 players on a USMNT World Cup roster with nine: Tyler Adams (23); Brenden Aaronson, Sergiño Dest, Josh Sargent and Tim Weah (22); Jesús Ferreira (21); Yunus Musah, Gio Reyna and Joe Scally (19).

With the inclusion of Musah, Reyna and Scally, this is the first USMNT World Cup squad with more than one teenager on the roster, though Gio Reyna turned 20 on Nov. 12, and Yunus Musah will do so on Nov. 29, the day of the USA’s final group stage match against Iran.”

It’s a young team that doesn’t have much pressure on them but hasn’t played a World Cup before, which is both a positive and a negative.  In an interesting parent-son story, Gio Reyna will be appearing in his first World Cup, now having matched the feats of his parents, Claudio Reyna and Danielle Egan. They were both American stars in the early 2000s.

balance of natureDonate

Latest article

- Advertisement -