Qatar will be the first Middle East country to host the World Cup. It will also be the nation’s first appearance in the tournament, making it the first nation since Italy (1934) to make its debut in the tournament as host.
It was back in December 2010, when Qatar was awarded the 2022 tourney. They’ve been placed in Group A, joined by Ecuador, Senegal, and the Netherlands.
It’s only the second time a World Cup will be played in Asia after Japan and South Korea hosted two decades ago in 2002. It’s only the third time the World Cup hasn’t been played in Europe or the Americas (South Africa hosted it in 2010). Thus, it’s a rare moment in the 92-year history of the Cup.
The host’s national team has found some success of late, winning its first major tournament (2019 AFC Asian Cup), beating the four-time winner Japan in the final match. The team has slowly progressed into a decent side ahead of this tourney.
Playing Ecuador in the first match of the World Cup is Qatar’s next chance to make a new “best World Cup moment,” as Qatar is ranked 50th by FIFA, while Ecuador is No. 22. It’s a winnable game, while the next two (against Senegal and the Netherlands) are much tougher opponents.
As far as host nations go, they have found success. South Africa was the only one to not make it beyond the group portion. Japan lost in the round of 16, South Korea losing in the semifinals.
So, few host nations need a defining World Cup moment the way Qatar needs one. Controversies have hounded it ever since the nation was given the bid, as corruption and bribery within FIFA have called into question how Qatar was selected. There were migrant workers brought in to complete massive construction projects in preparation of the tournament, but they’ve met with harsh working environments.
Creating a World Cup moment would have lasting effects on the country, as well as (hopefully) change the narrative to something other than the aforementioned unseemly issues.