World Cup 2022 Starts Today: Check Out The Kick-off Time For The First Match, Qatar vs Ecuador -Time and Venue

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There are four Premier League players in action as hosts Qatar kick off Group A against Ecuador
Qatar and Ecuador kick off the 2022 World Cup in their Group A opener

“Let’s now focus on the football,” was the plea of Fifa president Gianni Infantino and secretary general Fatma Samoura last week as the countdown to the most controversial World Cup in history began.

Now the day of kick-off has arrived, few outside the organisation responsible for hosting the tournament in the Gulf state have been willing to turn a blind eye to the countless issues surrounding Qatar 2022, none of which have been seriously addressed by world football’s governing body.

There are fans who will be boycotting it altogether, but for others the games themselves will be tainted. The first, as always, is played by the hosts – in this case Qatar – as they face Ecuador in their Group A opener.

Lose, and Qatar’s faint hopes of escaping the group will be all but over, with the Netherlands and Senegal still to come, even if the reigning African champions are without Sadio Mane, who has been ruled out of the tournament.

While the entirety of Qatar’s squad is made up of players based in the country, with just a handful of clubs represented, Ecuador have a rich football diaspora including four Premier League players in West Ham’s Enner Valencia and Brighton trio Moises Caicedo, Jeremy Sarmiento and Pervis Estupinan.

Having failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, it remains a momentous occasion when they do reach the finals.

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Qatar vs Ecuador

Date: Sunday 20 November

Kick-off time: 4pm (UK time)

Venue: Al Bayt Stadium

TV channel/live stream: BBC One and BBC iPlayer, with coverage from 3pm

West Ham forward Valencia enjoyed a prolific 2014 tournament, scoring three times as Ecuador finished third in Group E and held France to a goalless draw. As a youngster, the 33-year-old sold milk on the street to help his family and began playing with a ball made of rags; Valencia featuring at another World Cup is a remarkable story.

Since the retirement of his namesake, the former Manchester United captain Antonio Valencia – no relation – he has become the poster boy of the national side, becoming the most expensive Ecuadorian to move overseas when he joined CF Pachuca in 2013.

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Perhaps the most notable Ecuadorians are those who can be found at The Amex. Sarmiento could have played for England – and did so at under-18 level – while Caicedo is now back at Brighton after spending last season on loan in Belgium. Full-back Estupinan joined his compatriots this summer.

 

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