The best laid plans of organisers and men

November, 22/2022 - 07:33
Whatever you may think about Qatar holding this tournament, I think everyone can agree it would be a real downer for the host nation to go out without a point, but it’s looking like a real possibility.

World Cup Warriors

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

Peter Cowan

There’s an awful lot that goes into organising something on the scale of a World Cup.

Bidding began for the 2022 edition way back in 2009, which means Qatar has been planning to host the world’s biggest sporting event for more than 10 years.

There are so many different things to prepare for teams, fans, broadcasters, sponsors and so many more, so something is always bound to go wrong.

Unfortunately for Qatar, it seems one key area they’ve fallen short in is on the pitch.

The 2-0 defeat on the tournament’s opening night to Ecuador on Sunday was eye-opening, to say the least.

In truth that score probably flattered the hosts and if it weren’t for a 10-minute-long VAR check that ruled out the opening goal (I’m hoping that’s the last time I write ‘VAR’ this tournament), the South Americans would have deservedly thumped Qatar.

In some senses it shouldn’t have been a surprise given Qatar are the first hosts of a World Cup to have never previously qualified on merit.

On the other hand though, I still found it jarring to see the hosts so thoroughly outplayed.

For a start, playing the opening game of a tournament at home normally gives the hosts a lot of extra juice.

Host nations are typically roared on by a rabid crowd and for the players it must be a career highlight. I can’t imagine how much adrenaline must be coursing through the veins as you run out to represent your country on the biggest stage, likely with all your loved ones in the crowd.

Who could forget Siphiwe Tshabalala’s thunderous opening goal at the South Africa World Cup in 2010? South Africa weren’t a good team that year and went out in the group stages, but the crowd willed them to a decent result that night.

Things weren’t quite the same in Qatar the other night as fans left in droves as the night wore on and it does leave one wondering where they go from here.

With two games left against Senegal and the Netherlands, the pressure is on for Felix Sanchez’s team.

Whatever you may think about Qatar holding this tournament, I think everyone can agree it would be a real downer for the host nation to go out without a point, but it’s looking like a real possibility.

How did it come to this when Qatar have been planning towards this for more than a decade? Buckets of money have been invested in Qatari football in that period to build a team worthy of hosting the World Cup.

Perhaps the answer is, unfortunately for the hosts, you can prepare and plan for all sorts of eventualities, but as Mike Tyson once (supposedly) said, "verybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth". VNS

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