Qatar have made more unwanted history at the FIFA World Cup, becoming the first host nation ever to be knocked out without earning a point. Netherlands comfortably accounted for Qatar 2-0 at the Al Bayt Stadium on Tuesday to secure top spot in Group A and advance to the knockout stages.
However it's a completely different story for Qatar, who finish with three losses from their three group matches and not a single point. After their early 3-1 loss to Senegal, Qatar had broken the record for the fastest a host nation has ever been eliminated from a World Cup (five days).
On Tuesday they became the first host nation to lose all three of their group games, further making a mockery of FIFA's controversial decision to hand them hosting rights. Qatar spent a reported $360 billion in preparation for the World Cup, and despite huge investment in state-of-the-art facilities they came up short again on the pitch.
There will undoubtedly be millions of people across the globe happy that Qatar’s World Cup is ending in the group stage given the myriad controversies that surround the tournament. According to the United States Department of Justice, multiple FIFA officials received bribes to vote for Qatar as the host of the tournament. And after Qatar got the World Cup bid, its poor treatment of thousands of migrant workers who helped construct the stadiums has been a black mark on the tournament along with the country’s porous human rights record.
Speaking after Tuesday's loss, Qatar coach Felix Sanchez made the staggering admission that his side were never targeting a place in the knockout stage. “We’re a country with 6,000 football licences so this was a likely situation,” said Sanchez.
“We never thought at any time to set a target of reaching the last 16 or the quarter-finals. We just wanted to come here and see what we could do. We managed to play two good games against Senegal and the Netherlands.
"The first game (against Ecuador) we weren’t at our usual level and we know that. You can use statistics how you want but we need to make our own assessments.”
Football fans blast Qatar after embarrassing scenes
Qatar were not without their moments in a dull first half on Tuesday, forcing a couple of corners and threatening on the edge of the Dutch area. But no sooner had they bared their teeth than they were hit with a gut-punch of a goal by Cody Gakpo.
Davy Klaassen played an inviting ball into the path of the 23-year-old and he received it at pace, slicing through the heart of the defence before dispatching a well-placed shot past Meshaal Bersham to open the scoring in the 26th minute. "Gakpo is a very young player, he's only been playing for PSV for two or three years ... (he) has everything it takes to become a star and plus he has a wonderful personality because he's open to anything and everything," said Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal.
Four minutes into the second half the Dutch struck again as a cross from Klaassen made its way to Depay and the Qatari defence was caught ball-watching as his shot was saved, allowing Frenkie de Jong to bundle it into the net. With Qatar lacking the quality to mount a comeback, the Dutch had a goal ruled out after Gakpo was judged to have handled the ball in the build-up, but they still coasted to victory.
While the Dutch look forward to the last 16, Qatar will go back to the role of tournament hosts and plotting the future of the game in their country.
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