•The 33-year-old might be in his sunset years at club level but still a gem to watch while donning the Yellow and Blue. The Fenerbahçe forward longside Michael Estrada, Valencia will need to be at his best to turn around his side’s goalscoring fortunes.
•Many think that Qatar are pushover here, you are very wrong by the way. The host nation knows the formula to success and they have built a foundation that might be very difficult to crack
Qatar versus Ecuador
Sunday 7 pm
The long wait is finally over, the 2022 Fifa World Cup kicks off this Sunday at the Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar.
The hosts, who are taking part in this showpiece for the first time, take on Ecuador in a match that has a lot at stake.
Qatar has built a side that is comprised of home-based players and this might be a tricky affair for the South American giants, who are making a comeback to the global showpiece.
Ecuador commonly known as La Tri missed out in 2018 and their comeback was marred with controversies after it was claimed that their player Byron Castillo was not eligible to play for the national team.
The legal tussle was, however, won by Ecuador and now focus will be on getting a flying start against the host nation.
En route to qualifying, they picked up wins against Uruguay, Colombia, and Chile, as well as draws against Argentina and Brazil, while finishing with 27 goals, second top scorers in the South American region. In a group that has Senegal and the Netherlands, they will have to ensure that they are at their best for this one.
Player to Watch: Enner Valencia, forward
The 33-year-old might be in his sunset years at club level but still a gem to watch while donning the Yellow and Blue. The Fenerbahçe forward, alongside Michael Estrada, will need to be at his best to turn around his side’s goalscoring fortunes.
A number of players have been naturalised and they will bring a little bit of flair and experience to the team. We cannot fail to talk about the Aspire Academy that was set up just for this occasion. Current Qatar manager Felix Sanchez spent years bringing up these stars and now the time has come for them to shine on the global scene.
As usual, we will be giving you tips on what to expect from the match and the possible outcome.
I have been giving out predictions on the English Premier League, I will do so for the World Cup.
The opening matches at the World Cup are usually very close affairs, remember Scotland versus Brazil in 1998, South Africa versus Mexico in 2010? These matches are usually very tense and close to call.
Many think that Qatar are pushovers here. You are very wrong by the way. The host nation knows the formula to success and they have built a foundation that might be very difficult to crack.
Player to Watch: Almoez Ali, striker
The 26-year-old Al-Sadd player is expected to bang in goals just like he did when they lifted the Asian Cup. He is expected to partner Akram Afif. Expect a goal from either of them on Sunday.