Qatar vs Senegal: Will the hosts be the first to leave the party?
Qatar vs Senegal (Group A)
6.30 pm, Al Thumama Stadium
Twelve years and $220 billion in the making, Qatar’s World Cup could end in the first week itself.
The small nation-state has incurred an exorbitant cost, as reported by Forbes,to host the first World Cup in the Arab world. But they could be on their way out – becoming just the second hosts, after South Africa, to be eliminated in the group stage – if they fail to get a result against Senegal on Friday.
After a build-up – including behind closed-doors friendlies that were not allowed to be recorded – shrouded in secrecy and intrigue, Felix Sanchez’s side were an unpredictable force coming into the tournament. Their players, however, failed to show up for the occasion in their underwhelming performance in the tournament opener against Ecuador.
They failed to register a single shot on target, made a number of defensive errors, and were down 2-0 within the first half hour, following which Ecuador went into cruise control mode to round out the win. A significantly better performance will be needed for the hosts on Friday.
Sanchez’s side has an unmistakable influence from Spanish football – a number of their players come from Al Sadd, a club that was captained and later managed by Xavi – and despite showing glimpses of those patterns of play, they were not at a competitive level. [Read More]
England’s Harry Kane fit to face US, says Gareth Southgate
England captain Harry Kane has been given the all-clear to face the United States in England’s World Cup Group B clash in Al Khor on Friday after shaking off an ankle knock, manager Gareth Southgate confirmed.
Kane took a blow to his ankle just before halftime in England’s opening 6-2 win over Iran on Monday and was substituted late in the second half. He had scans on Wednesday but Southgate said there was no serious damage and the striker was fit to face the Americans.
“He’s good. He’s worked a little bit more individually today, but he’ll be back in with the team tomorrow and all good for the game,” Southgate told ITV in an interview.