Despite winning its opening game of the 2022 FIFA World Cup against host nation Qatar, Ecuador could see its hopes of winning the tournament disappear altogether. Ecuador qualified for the tournament by finishing fourth in the CONMEBOL division of qualifiers, but the South American side could be banned from the competition after its football federation was sanctioned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport for fielding an ineligible player.
The Ecuadoran federation said Tuesday that Byron David Castillo Segura would not be playing in Qatar. Castillo is considered an Ecuadorian citizen, and the football federation said that he was left out of the squad to avoid further unfair sanctions. The football federation also said that Castillo’s passport was “falsified” in Colombia. It has also been accused of human rights violations, particularly the exploitation of migrant construction workers.
Ecuador was arguably the weakest team in its group, but Ecuador kept it tight, limiting Qatar to just one shot on goal. Ecuador’s goal was the first of the 2022 World Cup, and it was the first penalty kick awarded in the tournament. It was overturned by a video assistant referee. It was the first time that the World Cup has opened with a penalty kick.
Enner Valencia, Ecuador’s leading scorer, scored the first goal of the tournament, and he then won a penalty in the 16th minute. It was the first goal ever scored by a World Cup player on a penalty kick. Qatar goalkeeper Saad Abdullah Al Sheeb was yellow-carded in the first half, and the Ecuadorian winger converted his penalty kick.
Ecuador’s second goal came after a quarter of an hour, when Enner Valencia scored a header. Ecuador had a threatening run into the box. But it went wide. After a VAR check, the goal was ruled out for offside.
Despite a resounding first-half win, Ecuador was held back in the second half, and Qatar’s defensive raggedness repeatedly exposed the South American side. Qatar dominated the possession, but it failed to get a shot on target. Nevertheless, the home side improved as the match progressed.
Ecuador has won eight consecutive international matches. Ecuador also beat Uruguay 6-1. Ecuador beat Argentina 6-1 in the group stage of the 2002 World Cup, and qualified for the round of 16 in 2006. In the group stage, Ecuador defeated Chile 6-1, but the South American side suffered a group-stage exit in 2006. Ecuador is ranked 44th in the FIFA rankings.
Ecuador’s opening game of the 2022 World Cup was the first of 64 matches against host nation Qatar. The host country had seven months of pre-tournament training camp. Its players were from domestic leagues and its centre-backs had been a thorn in Ecuador’s side in recent matches. Its passes often went awry.
Ecuador’s fans did not stop their celebrations during the World Cup opening ceremony. The crowd stood up and made a point of pointing out that Ecuador’s goal was an offside goal, but the referee overturned the score.