2022 World Cup – Sunday 20 November 2022

Group A: Qatar v Ecuador (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor)

So here we are the opening game of the 2022 World Cup, and the hosts take on South American opposition in the guise of Ecuador.

Qualification route:

Qatar – N/A (Hosts)

Ecuador – South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) Fourth Place

Form (last three games):

27 October (Friendly) Qatar 1–0 Honduras [Marbella, Spain]

5 November (Friendly) Qatar 2–1 Panama [Marbella, Spain]

9 November (Friendly) Qatar 1–0 Albania [Marbella, Spain]


23 September (Friendly) – Saudi Arabia 0–0 Ecuador [Murcia, Spain]

27 September (Friendly) – Japan 0–0 Ecuador [Dusseldorf, Germany]

12 November (Friendly) – Ecuador 0–0 Iraq [Madrid, Spain]


Hard to gauge what level Qatar (The Maroons) are realistically on the world stage, despite a FIFA ranking of No: 50, since they have not taken on any of the big guns at international level in the last couple of years. However, they come into this first game on the back of an unbeaten five game run in games played out in Spain with victories over Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and Albania.

Ecuador (The Tricolours) are appearing at their fourth Finals having qualified in 2002, 2006 and 2014. Their best performance was back in 2006 when they emerged from their group as runners-up, before going out to England in the last sixteen to a second-half David Beckham free-kick. The team ranked 44 in the FIFA standings have gone unbeaten in their recent three game tour in Europe and have not conceded in their last six fixtures, however, they have only scored two goals in those games and not scored in their last three.

Whilst the Qatar squad is drawn from the Qatari Stars league, there are some familiar faces from the Ecuador squad, who all coincidently play for Brighton in the English Premier League – defender, Pervis Estupinan, and midfielders, Jeremy Sarmiento and Moises Caicedo. Sarmiento is an interesting one in that he played for England at U16, U17 and U18 before switching to the country of his birth.

Opening games tend to be cagey affairs with goals at a premium and given the recent form of the respective sides today there is no reason to see that changing. I’m going for a 0-0 later today, with both sides happy to take a point.


The gripping memoir and tell-all biography of Dennis Mortimer, including his decade at Villa and the team’s European Cup win.

Dennis Mortimer became Aston Villa’s most famous captain when he lifted the Lions’ first League Championship trophy in 71 years. That was in 1981, and he achieved a European Cup win the following year, but his time at the club ended controversially.

After signing for Coventry City as a teenager in the late 1960s, Mortimer lined up against such legends as Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Franz Beckenbauer and George Best. From there he moved to Villa and became one of manager Ron Saunders’ most trusted players. He was in the dressing room for the most successful period in the club’s history but was frozen out by the chairman before his eventual exit.

He finished his playing career at Brighton & Hove Albion, Sheffield United and Villa’s bitter rivals Birmingham City, then moved into coaching.

In this autobiography, Mortimer lifts the lid on the highs and lows of his time at Villa and shares stories galore about the many characters he met through his life in football.

(Publisher: Pitch Publishing Ltd. September 2022. Hardcover: 320 pages)


Buy the book here: The Full Morty