Fifa World Cup countdown begins as Ecuador train for Qatar opener - in pictures

South American side face hosts in tournament opener on November 20

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Ecuador face Qatar in the first match of the Fifa World Cup 2022 in less than a month's time and have started preparations for the grand opener.

The match at Al Bayt Stadium on November 20 will mark the beginning of the first World Cup finals in the Gulf region, and will have the eyes of the globe on it.

The South American side will be making their fourth appearance at the tournament since 2002, after missing out four years ago.

The team will be managed by Gustavo Alfaro, who took over the Ecuador team in August 2020 from Jordi Cruyff, who hadn’t even led the team on the field once because of the chaos caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

There was more controversy in store. The Chilean Football Federation alleged that Ecuador had qualified after playing an ineligible player: Byron Castillo.

The other concern for the team will be the lack of goalscoring threat. A pair of friendly draws against Saudi Arabia and Japan in September have led to questions about the team’s ability to score. Striker Enner Valencia, the team’s main goal threat, failed to score in both matches.

“We need to score again, that was part of our characteristic,” Alfaro said. “Scoring doesn’t depend on a winger. It depends on the whole team, from our capacity to assist, create opportunities.”

Updated: October 26, 2022, 2:11 PM