Soccer World Cup: "No fire, no soccer nation": Qatar is sobered

Thousands of empty seats, no atmosphere - for the national team of the proud host Qatar, the final phase of the opening defeat against Ecuador must have felt almost like the end of the World Cup.

Soccer World Cup: "No fire, no soccer nation": Qatar is sobered

Thousands of empty seats, no atmosphere - for the national team of the proud host Qatar, the final phase of the opening defeat against Ecuador must have felt almost like the end of the World Cup. Even more than the weak football performance at 0:2 (0:2) after a brilliant opening show, the flight of numerous spectators irritated long before the final whistle.

"You have to say: It's just not a football nation," said former German world champion Christoph Kramer as an expert on ZDF: "There's no fire at all, nothing comes from the ranks and nothing from the field. That somehow fits the game that the stadium emptied relatively quickly - I probably would have left sooner."

The history of football, which is rather manageable compared to other nations in the region, has always been a criticism of the award to the rich emirate - albeit much less frequently than the human rights and living conditions for migrant workers. Representatives of the country, on the other hand, repeatedly emphasize how great the enthusiasm for football is - especially now because of the World Cup.

Qatar coach: 'We felt supported'

A group of fans in red "Qatar" shirts, who didn't let the goals conceded deter them from their orchestrated party, sang and cheered throughout the game. There was also an enthusiastic drummer. Thousands of fans joined Ecuador after the final whistle, tired but happy, trudging towards the buses and taxis near Al-Bait Stadium north of Doha.

"We felt supported and we hope that next time people will be prouder of us," said Qatar national team coach Felix Sanchez when asked about the empty seats. According to official figures, there were 67,372 spectators. According to FIFA, the arena holds 60,000 people. Head of State Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani sat in the VIP stand.

"I'm sure people will support us until the end of the tournament," said Spaniard Sanchez, who has worked in Qatar for many years. In his opinion, the atmosphere in the stadium was "great". "We're sorry we couldn't contribute to the great atmosphere and party. But we knew it could happen."

Qatar meets Senegal

Neither team had covered themselves in glory on the big stage. According to data service provider Opta, it was the game with the fewest shots on goal since records began in 1966. Qatar managed five, Ecuador six - two of which Enner Valencia scored.

"Obviously it wasn't what we were hoping for," Sanchez said. "Now we have to analyze the game, focus on the next game and forget about the game today." In Group A with the Netherlands and Senegal, Qatar is already under a lot of pressure, their next opponent is Senegal on Friday.

Kramer compared the situation with that of the 2010 World Cup. "South Africa also had a difficult time as the World Cup host, but you somehow had the feeling that with the country behind you and with the esprit and fire of the people you could somehow develop a force can," said the professional from Borussia Mönchengladbach: "You didn't have that today."

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