Host Qatar falls in World Cup opener


The large swathes of empty seats in the second half summed up the Qatar soccer team’s disappoint­ing start to its first ever World Cup. The night started with more than 67,000 mostly Qatari fans filling the cavernous Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, enjoying an opening ceremony that showcased the tiny Arab emirate to a global audience 12 years after winning the right to host soccer’s biggest event. It ended with Qatar’s overmatche­d team trudging off the field, its unwanted place in soccer history secure and with many of its dismayed fans having long disappeare­d. The controvers­y-laced tournament opened Sunday with the 2019 Asian Cup champions getting outplayed in a 2-0 loss to Ecuador, ensuring a host team lost its opening game for the first time at a World Cup. “I’d say we felt bad (for our supporters),” Qatar coach Felix Sanchez, above, said. “I hope in the next game they will be prouder.” Ecuador captain Enner Valencia scored both of his team’s goals in the first half of a one-sided game. “This is just the start of the World Cup,” the 33-year-old Valencia said. “We have to keep dreaming.”

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States