Qatar 2-1 Ecuador: What's your prediction?
'The Greatest Show on Earth' kicks off with hosts Qatar taking on South-American side Ecuador in the opener. Can the 2019 Asian Cup champions, with their possession-based style, mark their World Cup debut with a momentous win or will Ecuador use their physicality and aerial prowess to spoil Qatar's party?
20th November, 10:00 pm Bangladesh time
Al Bayt Stadium, Al-Khor, Qatar
Qatar: (5-3-2) Al-Sheeb (GK), Ro-ro, Pedro Miguel, Al-Rawi, Khouki, Hassan, Al-Haydos, Boudiaf, Hatem, Ali, Afif
Ecuador: (4-2-3-1) Galindez (GK), Preciado, Torres, Hincapie, Estupian, Gruezo, Caicedo, Plata, Cifuentes, Valencia, Estrada
Following is a stat-box on Qatar at the World Cup
FIFA Ranking: 50
Qatar have never before qualified for a World Cup. Their only major title is the 2019 Asian Cup when they conceded only one goal during the tournament. That year Qatar were invited to play at the Copa America as guests and finished bottom of their group. In 2020, Qatar were invited to play at the CONCACAF Gold Cup as guests, losing to the United States in the semi-final.
How they qualified
As hosts, Qatar automatically qualified for the finals.
At the Arab Cup, held in Qatar as a World Cup test event in December 2021, they beat Egypt 5-4 on penalties in a third-place playoff. Qatar have five wins, two defeats and four draws in 11 friendlies in 2022. Between June 2022 and mid-autumn, the squad were locked-down at training camps in Austria and Spain.
Following is a statbox on Ecuador at the World Cup:
FIFA Ranking: 44
Having never qualified for a World Cup in the 20th century, Ecuador then made it to four out of six including Qatar.
Their best performance was in Germany in 2006 when they reached the last 16 after wins over Poland and Costa Rica, before being eliminated 1-0 by England thanks to a David Beckham free kick. They fell at the group stage in 2002 and 2014.
How they qualified:
Ecuador secured South America's last automatic qualifying spot by coming fourth in a perennially tough group, winning seven games and scoring 27 goals in the 18-match slog.
Notable performances included a 4-2 win over Uruguay and 6-1 thrashing of Colombia, both in the altitude of Quito, and a 2-0 win away to Chile. They also managed creditable draws with heavyweights Brazil and Argentina. Only those two giants and Uruguay came above Ecuador in the 10-team group.
Since celebrating their berth in Qatar, Ecuador have beaten both Nigeria and Cape Verde 1-0 and drawn 0-0 against World Cup-bound Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Japan in friendlies.
Qatar 2-1 Ecuador