Qatar boss Felix Sanchez blasts hosts after loss to Ecuador in 2022 World Cup opener – ‘A terrible start’

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Felix Sanchez admitted his Qatar side made a “terrible start” as the hosts lost the first game of the 2022 World Cup.

Qatar became the first host nation ever to lose their opening game of the World Cup, falling 2-0 to Ecuador at the Al Bayt Stadium.

A brace from Enner Valencia was enough to start the South Americans’ campaign perfectly, as they ran out comfortable winners in a dominant display.

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“There’s no excuse, we want to congratulate our opponents, they deserved to win,” said Sanchez afterwards.

“There is a lot of room for improvement. Maybe the responsibility and nerves got the best of us. We didn’t start well. It was a terrible start actually.”

A packed stadium made for a lively atmosphere, but with 10 minutes to go and with the hosts struggling in their attempt to make a comeback, there appeared to be a mass exodus of fans.

However, Sanchez refused to criticise the supporters.

“Truth be told, I have enough work to do to take a look at it. We felt backed and supported and we hope for the next game, people will feel prouder and keep supporting us to the end of the tournament.

“The atmosphere was great, people were very much looking forward to this game. We knew [a defeat] could happen and the result can sometimes be difficult.

“We will try to learn from today and I’m completely sure we will make people feel more happy with our performance.”

Meanwhile, Ecuador boss Gustavo Alfaro was pleased by how his side reacted to having an early goal controversially ruled out by VAR, with Michael Estrada deemed offside by the tightest of margins in the build-up.

“The VAR decision had an impact,” he admitted. “That changed our mood, but still we persevered. The players asked me while the check was taking place, ‘what’s happening?’

“I lost sight of what was happening, but my colleagues saw the video. Estrada needs to do something about his fingernails and his toenails, because it was very tight.”

Ecuador’s mood was soured by the sight of star man Valencia limping off with an apparent knee injury, but Alfaro believes the 33-year-old will be fit to face the Netherlands on Friday.

“Valencia has been going through tough times,” Alfaro said.

“He has been questioned in Ecuador, but now we can see what he’s giving us.”

Valencia, too, remains hopeful that his injury is not too serious. Ecuador’s record scorer has now hit six goals in World Cups.

“The doctors will assess me, but I hope to play in the second game against Holland,” said the Fenerbahce frontman.

“Ever since the draw took place I dreamt about this game.

“I dreamt about playing in this opening game and winning – so it really is a dream come true.

“These games are about moments. We were able to score two early goals and it allowed us to take control.”

– – –

To celebrate the 2022 World Cup, we have launched our new bracket game, where you can give your predictions, challenge friends and create mini-leagues.

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