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Nervous Qatar ‘felt supported’ despite fan exodus in World Cup opener: Sanchez

Qatar supporters look dejected after Ecuador's win on opening day of the 2022 World Cup. Photo: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP

Qatar coach Felix Sanchez said his team “felt supported” even though thousands of fans left early as the World Cup hosts slumped to a 2-0 defeat against Ecuador in Sunday’s opening game.

Sanchez’s side were punished for a slow start at the Al Bayt Stadium by Enner Valencia’s double.

Defeat means Qatar are the first host country in the tournament’s 92-year history to lose their opening game.

“We have felt supported,” said Sanchez even though most home supporters left before full-time.

“I hope the people at the next game will be more proud. People know that we can give more.

“The atmosphere was one of great expectation. We are sorry that we could not be part of the party, but we knew that this scenario could happen…. We will try to learn.”

The scoreline could have been even worse for Qatar. Valencia had an early goal ruled out by VAR for offside before Ecuador eased off after the interval.

“Our nerves betrayed us, we started really badly,” said Sanchez. “We were unable to string together four passes in a row. Also many defensive gaps.

“The team was not balanced and that hurt us a lot. When you play against a team of this level… you pay for it.”

Qatar next play Senegal in Group A on Friday.

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