One hit, a lot of disillusionment: the end of the Qatari dream
Created: 11/26/2022, 11:00 am
Qatar's Mohammed Muntari (2nd from right) celebrates with Pedro Miguel after his goal to make it 1-2 against Senegal.
© Ding Xu/XinHua/dpa
When they first appeared on the world football stage, Qatar's side wanted to compete with the big boys.
But the pressure on the team was apparently too great.
The coach sees many limitations.
Doha - They were able to celebrate at least one goal, a header that saved the Qataris' sporting honor somewhat.
The Qatari state agency QNA spoke of a "historic" goal after the 1: 3 defeat against Senegal.
But the football fans in the emirate didn't have much more to celebrate.
In terms of sport, the record for the Qataris at the World Cup in the Gulf after two games is extremely sobering.
Two games, twice without a chance.
One goal, zero points.
The end in the preliminary round sealed after only two appearances.
Never before has a host failed so quietly at a World Cup as Qatar.
The Qatari newspaper "Al-Sharq" headlined: "Painful end - the end of the dream."
Qatar prepared meticulously for the World Cup
As if many supporters had expected the outcome, a number of seats in the stands remained empty on Friday evening at the Al-Thumama Stadium in what is perhaps the most important game in Qatari football history.
Captain Hassan Al-Haydos later apologized to supporters.
Qatar's media treated the eleven with mercy.
After the 2-0 defeat against Ecuador in the opening game, she improved, wrote the newspaper "Al-Arab".
Ever since the 2010 World Cup was awarded, the country had been looking forward to this appearance on the big world stage.
For years, the Al-Annabi team (roughly: the Burgundy reds) under Spanish coach Felix Sanchez prepared for the tournament - the biggest event in Qatar's young sporting history.
Goal: To keep up at the World Cup at the highest level, as Sanchez put it.
In order to be absolutely fit, the 46-year-old brought his players together at a training camp in Spain before the tournament.
Sealed off from the outside world, the team should focus on the World Cup.
Optimism was justified.
Qatar performed with a team that had grown over the years and was largely trained at the local youth academy, the Aspire Academy.
Many players have known each other for years from junior national teams.
Qatar also had successes to show for themselves.
In 2019, the emirate became Asian champions when they beat the internationally experienced Japanese in the final.
The victory eclipsed poor results at the 2019 Copa America and World Cup qualifiers in Europe, in which Qatar featured.
Sanchez: "We've shown what we're capable of"
Dark harbingers that came true.
Maybe the expectations overwhelmed the team.
The team was under a lot of pressure after the opening defeat against Senegal, said captain Al-Haydos.
Coach Sanchez was - at least publicly - still satisfied.
His team proved against Senegal that they are competitive at this level.
"We have shown what we are capable of."
But Sanchez also knows that the entire team lacks the necessary experience at the highest level.
Most players play for clubs in the domestic Qatar Stars League, where they earn well but play at a low level.
So far, no player has made it to top European clubs.
In general, the national team in a small country like Qatar can only draw from a limited pool of talent.
Football in Qatar has to deal with many restrictions, coach Sanchez said.
So it is also uncertain what the future of the Qatar team looks like.
A change of generations, yes, but not the end of a cycle, Sanchez believes.
There are young players who are moving up.
At least the foundations have been laid with the Aspire Academy.
The next goal is the Asian Cup 2023. Venue: Qatar.
As if one's own end wasn't disappointing enough, there is still a bitter aftertaste.
Ironically, the neighboring Kingdom of Saudi Arabia celebrated the greatest success in its sporting history in a sensational 2-1 win over Argentina in the opening game.
Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad cheered on the "Greens", as the Saudis are also known, from the main grandstand with a Saudi flag.
In fact, the relationship between the two countries is still clouded.
At least secretly, many Qataris are likely to be a little jealous of their big neighbors.