• Saudi Arabia’s ruler sat with Qatar’s emir in show of unity
  • Fans left opening match early with team soundly beaten

Long before the end of a painful and humbling opening night for Qatar at this World Cup, many of the country’s richest and most powerful men were speeding away from the Al Bayt stadium in their fast cars and 4x4s. They had, however, learned a valuable lesson. Money can buy you a lot of things in sport. Major events. Lavish stadiums. Impressive infrastructure. But it cannot guarantee a competitive national football team.

That harsh reality was dispensed in clinical style by an unheralded Ecuador side, who breezed to a 2-0 lead – thanks, in part to Qatar’s erratic goalkeeper, Saad al-Sheeb – before taking their foot off the pedal. Not that many home fans were there to see it. Despite so much hype and expectation, along with a 12-year wait to watch their team in a home World Cup, thousands left at half-time.

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