Soccer World Cup
Qatar’s World Cup Dreams Ended – “Have Restrictions”
That’s not enough for the big World Cup stage. Hosts Qatar also lost their second group game and were eliminated early.
Crowds of spectators watching the proud hosts left the Al-Thumama stadium before the final whistle, and many dignitaries in the VIP box didn’t want to wait for their World Cup dreams to come to an end.
The disappointment in the small country on the Gulf was palpable after the finals were sealed, as Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani had invested billions of dollars in the ambitious World Cup project. At least it didn’t work out in terms of sport, because the tournament turned into a sporting fiasco for the national team, which was only able to compete to a limited extent.
A few hours after the 1:3 (0:1) against African champions Senegal, the 1:1 between the Netherlands and Ecuador made it clear: Qatar was only the second World Cup host after South Africa (2010) to fail in the preliminary round. National coach Felix Sanchez tried to embellish this sobering fact a little. “You have to know where we come from. We have to work with a lot of restrictions here. Qatar is a small country, the league is not that competitive,” said the Spaniard. The local media were also mild in their first reactions and acknowledged the first World Cup goal as “historic”, as the state news agency QNA wrote.
But a goal as a return on participation in the first World Cup should certainly not have crossed the mind of those responsible. After all, the country had put a lot of effort into the training and sporting development of the national team. The fact that their Arab neighbor Saudi Arabia caused the first big sensation with a 2-1 win against title contenders Argentina and that Iran also celebrated their first win of this World Cup in a 2-0 win against Wales should annoy the hosts even more.
Senegal benefit from hosts’ mistakes
The team had been preparing intensively for the finals since June – all in vain. For a long time, the team also presented itself as a sporty lightweight against Senegal, made many mistakes and sometimes seemed hopelessly inferior. The best example was goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham, who stepped in between the posts for Saad Al-Sheeb, who was so uncertain in the opening game. But even the new number one only had limited control of the goalkeeping game. Barsham undercut corners, misjudged running out and tangled with the ball on his foot. There was a reason why the spectators cheered every successful attempt by Barsham.
Significantly, the West Africans’ opening goal also came after a dreadful mistake by the hosts. Defense chief Boualem Khoukhi stepped over the ball, Boulaye Dia (41st minute) gratefully accepted the invitation. Famara Diedhiou (48th) and Bamba Dieng (84th) scored the other goals in front of 41,797 spectators for the Senegalese, who sorely miss their injured Bayern star Sadio Mané, but returned with the first win in the fight for the round of 16 ticket are in business.
Qatar wants to ‘show a good game’ against the Netherlands
“We apologize to the spectators. We will try to make things right in the next game,” said Qatar midfielder Mohammed Waad. The opponent is then called the Netherlands, a heavyweight in world football. “We want to show a good game again,” said Sanchez, emphasizing: “We’ve shown that we can be competitive.” But even a sporting sensation would no longer have any effect.
The fact that Qatar is not yet a real football nation was also evident in the stands. A few seats in the stadium remained empty, but that was everything. And at least the increase in performance in the second half deserved applause after the final whistle. But by then, many spectators were long gone.
The Senegalese, on the other hand, were different, with their fans constantly urging the team forward. So the dream goes on and coach Aliou Cissé even believes that an African team can win the World Cup: “Anything is possible. Japan beat Germany, Saudi Arabia beat Argentina. Things have changed. An African team can win the World Cup win. I hope it’s Senegal.”