News ID: 325520
Published: 1046 GMT November 21, 2022

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: Ecuadoreans celebrate historic victory over host

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: Ecuadoreans celebrate historic victory over host
KAREN TORO/REUTERS

Ecuadorian fans the World Cup opener, between Qatar and Ecuador, in Ibarra, Ecuador, on November 20, 2022.

REUTERS – Thousands of euphoric Ecuadoreans celebrated on Sunday in various cities around the South American nation after the country's historic victory against host nation Qatar in the opening game of the soccer World Cup.

Ecuador made the perfect start to the tournament by beating Qatar's side 2-0 in the Group A game with a brace from veteran striker Enner Valencia, who scored on a penalty kick and then a header in the first half. The game marked the first time a host nation had been beaten in a World Cup opener.

Fans dressed in national soccer jerseys and carrying Ecuadorean flags in honor of the team known as the "Tricolor" filled restaurants, squares and shopping centers in various parts of the nation to encourage the team with the traditional slogan of "Yes we can."

"I feel huge emotion and I have no words, I can't describe it," said Jenny Espinosa, 33, who went with friends to a shopping center in the city of Ibarra, in the north of the country, to watch and back the team.

"We are one Ecuador, we are one fist and wherever the team is, we have to support it."

In Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca, the country's largest cities, fans gathered in public parks to watch the game on giant screens and after the victory waved flags, danced and sang.

"It was exciting to see our team win," said Hugo Pena, a 35-year-old taxi driver, as he celebrated on one of Guayaquil's main streets.

"Let's hope for a good performance in the next match against the Netherlands, let's hope they give us a good result and we can qualify for the next phase."

President Guillermo Lasso joined the festivities.

"Ecuador is making history," Lasso wrote on his Twitter account. "When the leadership is clear, has a vision and works to achieve it, they go down in history as the Tri!"

Ecuador will play again on Friday against the Netherlands, while Qatar will face Senegal.

 

Do-or-die opener

 

Germany go into their Group E opener against Japan on Wednesday knowing that this one game could potentially make or break their tournament hopes.

With 2010 world champions Spain awaiting next, the Germans cannot afford any slip-up against the Japanese and risk a potential early exit again.

The four-times champions have arrived in Qatar a new team since their 2018 World Cup first round shock elimination. They have since changed their coach, a number of players and even dropped their official monicker 'Die Mannschaft'.

Those four years since the Russian debacle – their earliest World Cup exit in more than 80 years – have been far from successful, with the Germans relegated from the Nations League in 2018 before rule changes kept them alive in the competition, and then crashing out of the Euro at the Round of 16 last year.

With new coach Hansi Flick, who won six titles with Bayern in 2021 before taking over just over a year ago, the Germans are hoping they now have what it takes to again make a deep run in the tournament.

"We have to be prepared for a tough battle against Japan," said team director Oliver Bierhoff this week. "We have to be focused from the very first minute. Then everything is possible with the team."

What Flick has yet to decide is whether he will deploy one of his centre forwards, the strong and tall Niclas Fuellkrug, against the Japanese or go with the option of moving a winger such as Kai Havertz into the nine position.

The Japanese know more about Germany's game than most other teams in the tournament with no fewer than eight German-based players in their squad.

Japan veteran Yuto Nagatomo said those eight, who include Europa League winner with Eintracht Frankfurt Daichi Kamada, were constantly feeding teammates information on their opponents.

"You don't even have to ask – in the canteen or on the bus, you're getting information from everywhere," said Nagatomo.

 

'I speak when I want'

 

Cristiano Ronaldo believes his explosive TV interview, in which the Manchester United forward said he had been betrayed by the club and was being forced out, had not been a distraction in the Portugal changing room in the World Cup.

The Portugal captain said that he is not worried about how his actions will impact the squad, adding that he feels great about their chances of winning the World Cup.

"In my life, the best timing is always my timing," Ronaldo told a news conference on Monday.

"I don't have to think about what other people think. I speak when I want. The players know me really well for many years and know the type of person I am.

"It’s an ambitious group that is hungry and focused. So I'm sure it (the interview) won’t shake the changing room’s concentration and focus."

Referring to himself in the third person, Ronaldo said that "everything related to him will always spark criticism and controversy."

The 37-year-old Ronaldo confirmed that the awkward handshake between him and attacking midfielder Bruno Fernandes that was caught on camera and went viral was the result of a joke between the Portugal and United team mates.

"My relationship with him (Fernandes) is excellent," Ronaldo said. "I was joking with him. His plane arrived late and I asked if he had come by boat. That's it.

"We will see in the end who the best team is, but I believe Portugal is the best team in this World Cup. But we need to show it on the pitch."

 

   
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