Qatar may have won the right to host one of the biggest sporting spectacles on earth, but on the grandest stage of them all, they faltered. And how. After the 2-0 loss against Ecuador, it was a now or never situation for Qatar as they took on Senegal. But despite the roar of the 12th man behind them, it was yet another crushing loss for the hosts as they succumbed 1-3 to Senegal.
After having lost both their opening games, it was expected from both teams to go all out. While Qatar did step up on the night, Senegal did just that little bit more, more or less ensuring an early exit for the hosts from the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Boulaye Dia, Famara Diedhiou and Bamba Dieng all found the target, all but sealing Qatar’s fate at this World Cup. Mohammed Muntari did give the hosts hope when he scored in the 78th minute, but Dieng’s goal restored Senegal’s two-goal lead and thus crushing Qatar’s chance of a comeback.
Not only did Qatar become the first hosts to lose their first match at the World Cup, they were also the first host nation not to have shot on target in a match at the finals since the USA in their last 16 defeat to Brazil in 1994. If Netherlands beat Ecuador, Qatar will see an early exit, making them the first host nation to exit the World Cup without winning a single game.
Striker Boulaye Dia drilled in the first goal after Qatar defender Boualem Khoukhi made a mess of a clearance under no pressure. After failing to connect with the ball, he fell on his back, allowing Khoukhi to ram one past the goalkeeper.
Qatar played with renewed vigor with the home crowd egging them on, but their hopes were dashed when former Bristol City striker Famara Diedhiou rose to flick in a glorious header just three minutes after the break. Qatar appealed vociferously for a first-half penalty when Akram Afif was bundled over in the box by Sarr, but referee Antonio Lahoz pointed only for a goal-kick, much to the anger of the home supporters. In hindsight, Afif would have been better off taking the shot at goal.
Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy made stunning reflex saves to deny Almoez Ali and Ismail Mohamad, but he could do nothing about Mohammed Muntari's powerful header. Muntari had been on for just four minutes, when he gave the hosts a glimmer of hope with a header to make it 2-1. But the Qatar fightback lasted six minutes before Bamba Dieng put Senegal two goals clear again.