a-reminder-that-world-cup-hosts-qatar-lost-to-linfield-ahead-of-this-winter’s-tournament

Earlier this year, World Cup hosts Qatar suffered a humiliating defeat to Linfield, just months before their opener against Ecuador.

Qatar, who are 50th in FIFA’s world rankings, were beaten 1-0 by the Northern Irish champions in a pre-season friendly in Marbella on June 21.

A first-half goal from forward Chris McKee was enough to hand the Belfast club victory.

Rather worryingly for Qatar, a number of their senior players featured in the match. In fact, seven of their starting line-up also played in their 0-0 friendly international draw with Slovenia in March.

Defeat to Linfield was an embarrassing setback for Qatar as they prepare to host the World Cup, which kicks off on Sunday.

Felix Sanchez’s side take on Ecuador on the opening day of the tournament, before facing Senegal on November 25 and the Netherlands on November 29 in their remaining Group A fixtures.

To be fair to the Northern Irish minnows, they have a history of playing – and beating – international opposition.

They defeated Kenya 1-0 at Windsor Park in 2002, but lost to reigning world champions Argentina in 1990, losing 1-0 against their South American opponents.

Linfield’s victory over Qatar only raised further doubts over the country’s suitability to host the World Cup.

FIFA has faced widespread criticism for awarding the 2022 tournament to the tiny Gulf nation, which has a population of just over two million people.

Qatar has never previously qualified for the World Cup and was ranked 113th in the world when awarded hosting rights for the tournament.

But despite their lack of success, World Cup ambassadors Samuel Eto’o, Tim Cahill and Cafu have backed Qatar to beat England in the knockout stages.

Image credit: AlamyEto’o thinks the host country will “surprise” a few teams with their quality.

And the former Barcelona and Inter Milan forward reckons Cameroon will pull off the biggest upset in World Cup history on December 18 when they beat underdogs Morocco in an all-African final.

In an interview with ESPN, the 41-year-old made some bold predictions as to how Cameroon and Morocco will progress in the coming weeks.

“Africa has always had the potential to achieve a successful World Cup, but we haven’t always shown our best face up to now,” Eto’o said.

“During the years, African teams have acquired more and more experience, and I think they’re ready not only to participate in a World Cup, but also to win it.”

Eto’o says Walid Regragui’s Morocco side will beat Portugal, Spain and France on the way to the final. Cameroon, meanwhile, will overcome Belgium in the quarter-finals before beating Senegal in an all-African semi-final.

He confirmed: “Cameroon will win the World Cup final against Morocco.”