Even though a large portion of the crowd departed the World Cup hosts' opening match against Ecuador early on Sunday, Qatar Coach Felix Sanchez stated his players "felt supported" despite the loss.
On Sunday night, the Qataris had the worst conceivable opening to their home FIFA World Cup, losing 2-0 to goals from Enner Valencia in the first half and being generally outplayed. They looked the second best for virtually all of the game and were lucky not to have conceded more than they did. In the end, they had no effort on target and it was pretty much about the worst performance by a host nation in decades that we have witnessed on the opening day.
Even though the Al Bayt Stadium's official attendance was above 57,000, many spectators left before the second half began, and by the 80th minute, it was obvious that the stadium was far closer to being empty than it was full.
Although there was a significant evacuation of Qatar supporters, manager Felix Sanchez was quick to acknowledge the cheers, saying: "We felt backed and supported and we hope for the next game, people will feel prouder and continue supporting us to the finish of the tournament. The crowd was excited about the game, and the atmosphere was excellent.
"I'm hoping there will be more excitement in the stadium during the next game. People are aware that we can do more. There was a lot of expectation in the air. We regret that we were unable to attend the party, but we were aware that this possibility existed. We'll endeavor to learn.
In the 92-year history of the competition, the defeat makes Qatar the first host nation to lose its first game.
The result for Qatar could have been much worse. In the opening minutes, Valencia had a goal disallowed for offside by VAR, and Ecuador eased up after the break.
We began out pretty poorly, our nerves deceived us, admitted Sanchez. "We were unable to make four consecutive passes. Several defensive holes as well. We suffered greatly because the team was not balanced. When you compete with a team of this caliber, you must pay for it," he added.
In light of upcoming Group A matches against the Netherlands and Senegal, Sanchez is more concerned with attempting to make Qatar more competitive than lamenting the lack of support from the home crowd. The Spaniard replied, "Truth be told, I have enough work to do to look at it.
Next up for Qatar in Group A is Senegal on Friday.