After reading your comments from yesterday morning, current plan is to put up an Open Thread before every game.
(Also, possibly, posts about the Qatar situation apart from the individual games themselves, if / as necessary — kinda hoping not.)
— Sportskeeda Football (@skworldfootball) November 20, 2022
As ever: I am *not* knowledgeable about this stuff, so do let me know in the comments if any of these sources are sketchy… or if there are better places I should link.
The first match of the highly-controversial 2022 World Cup takes place at the Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday afternoon, as hosts Qatar lock horns with Ecuador in Group A.
Felix Sanchez Bas’s men are competing on the biggest international stage for the first time in their history, while the South American nation make their return to the World Cup finals after an eight-year absence…
Controversy has reared its ugly head ever since Qatar were awarded the hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup back in 2010, but on the field, Sanchez Bas and his crop of soon-to-be history-makers have simply tried to give themselves the best possible chance of making it out of Group A.
Facing Africa Cup of Nations champions Senegal and 2010 World Cup finalists Netherlands is truly a baptism of fire for the world’s 50th-ranked nation, but they have taken part in four warm-up friendlies since October and have won all four of them.
Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and most recently Albania have fallen to Qatar’s superiority in recent weeks, with star striker Almoez Ali netting the only goal against the latter, and the Maroon are now aiming to become the first World Cup debutants to win their opening match since Senegal beat then-defending champions France in 2002.
On the other hand, Sanchez Bas’s side are aiming to avoid being just the second World Cup hosts to fail to make it out of the group – such a fate befell South Africa in 2010 – but victory here would also see Qatar make history as the only AFC nation to win their first-ever World Cup showdown.
Qatar were not the only nation to become embroiled in controversy before the first ball has been kicked at the World Cup, as Ecuador were reportedly facing the threat of expulsion from the tournament after fielding an ineligible player in qualifying.
Nothing came of that, though, and the South American nation now prepare to make their return to the game’s showpiece event after missing out on a place at Russia 2018, but making waves at the World Cup has not been their forte so far.
Ecuador have already appeared at three editions of the competition in 2002, 2006 and 2014, but only once have they progressed beyond the group stages, being eliminated in the last 16 16 years ago, which also represents the sole time that they have won their first match of the tournament…
“I think this will be the World Cup that really underpins just how dirty the game is.”
Melissa Reddy picks apart Gianni Infantino’s ‘astounding’ and ‘disrespectful’ statement ?? pic.twitter.com/AFtVX83uBT
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) November 19, 2022