World Cup dismay for Qatar as Ecuador win opening game

AL KHOR, Qatar (AP) – The many empty seats in the second half summed up the Qatar soccer team’s disappointing start to their first World Cup.

The night began with more than 67,000 mostly Qatari fans filling the cavernous Al Bayt Stadium and attending an opening ceremony that presented the tiny Arab emirate to a global audience, 12 years after it won the right to host football’s biggest event to align

It ended with Qatar’s overwhelmed team stumbling off, securing their unwanted place in footballing history and many of their dismayed fans long gone.

The controversial tournament opened on Sunday when the 2019 Asian Cup champions were overwhelmed with a 2-0 defeat by Ecuador, ensuring a host team lost their opening game for the first time at a World Cup.

“I would say we felt bad (for our fans),” said Qatar coach Felix Sanchez. “I hope they will be prouder in the next game.”

Ecuador captain Enner Valencia scored both of his side’s goals in the first half of a one-sided game that became a damage control exercise for Qatar on one of the biggest nights in the country’s history.