FIFA's decision to hold the FIFA World Cup in Qatar has been made to look even worse after the hosts made some humiliating unwanted history on Friday. With a 3-1 loss to Senegal, Qatar broke the record for the fastest a host nation has ever been knocked out of a World Cup.
Qatar's campaign is over after just five days, with Ecuador's 1-1 draw with Netherlands sealing their fate. It marks the shortest amount of time that a host nation has lasted at a World Cup in the event's 92-year history.
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Qatar can’t qualify for the last 16 no matter what happens in its last game against Netherlands. South Africa had been the only other home team to fail to make it out of the group stage when it hosted in 2010 - but they at least managed a win and a draw and only missed out on goal difference.
But Qatar's flop will leave FIFA with more egg on their face after the controversial $220 billion decision to stage the World Cup in the Middle East for the first time. The writing was on the wall from the very start for the Qatar. The team may be the 2019 Asian champion, but looked nervous and was overwhelmed in a 2-0 loss to Ecuador last weekend straight after a glittering opening ceremony put on by the wealthy Gulf emirate and meant to showcase it to the world.
Friday's performance by Qatar was a little, but not much better for a squad that all plays in the local league and is missing the kind of top talent that is present in almost every World Cup team now. Qatar at least scored this time via a second-half header from substitute Mohammed Muntari - a Ghanaian-born striker who is one of many in the squad born outside Qatar but brought in to boost its chances at the World Cup.
At 2-1, Qatar threatened a comeback against the African champions for just six minutes before Bamba Dieng responded to hit home Senegal's third goal and re-establish a two-goal cushion.
“If you expected us to go very far in this tournament, then it will be a disappointment,” Qatar coach Félix Sánchez said before his team was officially out. “Our goal was to be competitive.”
Qatar had never qualified for the World Cup before FIFA's highly-contentious decision in 2010 to handed it the hosting rights - giving the team automatic entry. But although the oil-and gas-rich nation spent around $220 billion of its vast riches on building stadiums, roads and even a new city for the World Cup, it couldn't put together a solid defence for the team.
Ecuador's draw with Netherlands knocks out Qatar
Ecuador striker Enner Valencia later earned his country a 1-1 draw against the Netherlands that officially eliminated Qatar. Friday's draw gave both the Dutch and Ecuador one point apiece to move them to four points in Group A.
Valencia has become a talisman on the biggest stage and his 49th-minute leveller against the Dutch made him the top scorer at this World Cup with his third goal in Qatar. It also extended the 33-year-old veteran's streak to scoring all six Ecuador goals at World Cups since the 2014 tournament.
Ecuador dominated much of the game after Cody Gakpo fired the Dutch into a sixth-minute lead with a rising shot from the edge of the penalty area. It was the fastest goal scored so far in Qatar.
Ecuador equalised when Valencia passed the ball into an empty net after Pervis Estupinan's shot was pushed away by goalkeeper Andries Noppert. Almost the entire Ecuador squad joined their inspirational captain in a collective goal celebration. It created a powerful image of unity as they knelt together in a circle pointing to the night sky.
Fans were quick to condemn FIFA and Qatar after the hosts' hasty exit from the tournament.
— Antony Thrower 🇺🇦 (@AntonyThrower86) November 25, 2022
Qatar really are a poor side. Worst host nation in my life? Almost certainly. Even South Africa scored a goal. All that money, all that time, & all that desire to show the world how great they are. The end result? An awful team in a stadium with empty seats. #FIFAWorldCup
— Tayyib Abu (@TayyibAbu1) November 25, 2022
Embarrassing for host! Qatar first team has knocked out of the world cup
— 7 (@weekstrt) November 25, 2022
Qatar should be ashamed of themselves
— 🇸🇴🇦🇺 (@AfcAbdirahman) November 25, 2022
This stadium is half full for Qatar, the home nation. What a joke this is.
— Paul (@bluesfor) November 25, 2022
The disgrace of the Qatar World Cup will forever remain on FIFA's resume. Shame on you that Qatari money blinded your eyes and deafened your ears and numbed your conscience!!#FIFAWorldCup
— Padideh (@Padideh80608987) November 25, 2022
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