Opening night was bruising for Qatar. After more than a decade of building up, the team dropped their lines.
The criticism was sharp and the performance, especially the first half, deserved it. But they are capable of better; they won the Asian Cup in 2019 and were only Gold Cup semi-finalists in 2021. It wasn’t until the second half that we saw a glimpse of that quality, when they managed to maintain a joint period of possession.
Against Senegal we have to see if it was just tremendous pressure that plagued Qatar against Ecuador. Without the opening night stage fright, we might see more of the expansive football that Felix Sanchez has tried to instill in recent years. However, they will need to get their leading figures, namely Afif and Ali, into better attacking positions.Read:Morocco vs. Croatia live stream: How to watch online, TV channel for 2022 World Cup match to day
For Senegal, a lack of wit against the Netherlands and the absence of record scorer Mané hangs over the team. A moment of indecision cost them the game and that adds extra pressure here; they have to win. But Cisse’s African champions are strong across the board and their very urgent approach could force mistakes, especially if Qatar hasn’t shrugged off those early tournament nerves.
With Sarr a thorn in the side of the Orange on the first day, he will cherish his chances against Qatar with more space. Senegal should comfortably prevail here, even if Qatar is more competitive than against Ecuador. But as Saudi Arabia showed on Tuesday, surprises can happen at a World Cup.
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