Qatar and Ecuador battle ready for curtain raiser

Qatar will look to kick off the FIFA World Cup 2022 with a bang when they welcome Ecuador to the Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday.

The wait is over. The FIFA World Cup 2022 is here, and the month-long extravaganza begins in Al Khor on Sunday. There has been a lot of controversy over the latest edition of the World Cup. But all that will likely become white noise when Qatar and Ecuador face off at the Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday evening.

Qatar qualified for the FIFA World Cup 2022 by being the host nation. But they have blown hot and cold this year, although they have lost only three of their 21 games. The Maroon participated in a preparatory camp in Marbella ahead of the World Cup, winning all five matches, the latest being a 1-0 victory over Albania.

On the other hand, Ecuador’s journey to the FIFA World Cup 2022 has been a rollercoaster. La Tri reached Qatar 2022 by finishing fourth in the CONMEBOL leg of the qualifiers. That earned them an automatic ticket to the group stage. But Chile filed an appeal, which CAS later rejected, saying Ecuador had fielded an ineligible player. Meanwhile, Gustavo Alfaro’s men are on a seven-game unbeaten run, although they have won only five matches.

Qatar and Ecuador most recently clashed in a friendly in October 2018, with the Maroon eking out a 4-3 win. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022 curtain raiser at the Al Bayt Stadium.

Felix Sanchez has one injury concern hampering his preparations ahead of the game against Ecuador. On Sunday, the Qatar head coach might be without one player, with Ahmed Alaaeldin picking up an unspecified injury against Albania.

Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Al Sheeb; Al-Rawi, Salman, Hassan; Ro-Ro, Hatem, Boudiaf, Ahmed; Al-Haydos; Ali, Afif


Like his counterpart in the Qatar dugout, Gustavo Alfaro has seen a player sustain an issue ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022 opener. But the Ecuador head coach has a full-strength squad as Byron Castillo is not in the final 26-man unit.

Alfaro will line his side up in a 4-3-3 formation, and Ecuador will look to win the midfield battle against Qatar. The three central midfielders are the strength for La Tri, spearheaded by Moises Caicedo. The 21-year-old is a man in demand in Europe, and he will need support from Carlos Gruezo and Jose Cifuentes.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Dominguez; Preciado, Torres, Hincapie, Estupinan; Gruezo, Caicedo, Cifuentes; Plata, Valencia, Ibarra

Key Stats

Qatar and Ecuador have met three times previously, all matches taking place in Qatar. Their head-to-head record is perfectly balanced, with one win each and one draw (six goals each). Their last encounter saw Qatar win 4-3 in a friendly in October 2018.

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