World Cup hosts Qatar must overcome nerves before Senegal

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — There’s a good chance the World Cup It will go from bad to worse for Qatar if the players do not hold their nerve when they face African champions Senegal in their second group match.

The Qataris are already the first hosts to lose the opening match of a World Cup after being overshadowed by their country’s biggest sporting event. In a 2-0 Group A defeat by Ecuador on Sunday.

This puts them in danger of being only the second host after South Africa in 2010 to be eliminated in the group stage.

But what about losing every match? Or the grim prospect of failing to score in a home World Cup?

This is likely to lead to more criticism On FIFA’s decision to award the World Cup to a small but very wealthy Gulf emirate that had never qualified for the game’s biggest tournament before winning the right to host it 12 years ago.

“Maybe we felt a little overwhelmed with responsibility. We were nervous too,” said Qatar coach Felix Sanchez. “I hope we will be under less pressure (against Senegal) and we can approach the game in a more competitive way. I think that’s something we can work towards.”

Qatar’s next chance to show they deserve a place in a World Cup venue comes on Friday against Senegal, a team that still boasts a host of players from the big leagues of England, Spain, Italy and France even if it loses injured striker Sadio Mane.

“We have a lot of room for improvement,” Sanchez said after his players froze in the glare of global scrutiny against Ecuador.

Qatar may be the 2019 Asian champions, but every member of the squad plays for a home club in perhaps an indication of the gap between them and the standard required at a World Cup.

Qatar’s suffering also stands out after other teams from Arab countries were able to be more at home in the first World Cup in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia’s sudden massive defeat of Argentina Followed by great offers from Tunisia and Morocco In the first week of the tournament.

Senegal also fell to an opening loss In the World Cup, but upset a strong Dutch team before midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate and defender Abdou Diallo were injured in the second half, cutting the rhythm of the West African team, and the Dutch took advantage of the opportunity to score two late goals.

It is likely that Kouyat will miss the Qatar match, but Senegal coach Aliou Cisse said that his team’s focus is on the front, as he has high expectations of forming a new attacking line that includes Ismail Sarr, Boulaye Dia and Crepin Diata.

They didn’t do it right in their first game together after Mane was left out, but if they play against Qatar as Cisse expects, it could be another long World Cup day for the hosts.

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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