Qatar World Cup: Historical records held by Group A teams
We are inching close to the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup. The 32 participating nations have been divided into eight groups (A-H). Netherlands, Senegal, Ecuador, and hosts Qatar comprise Group A. The latter two will play the tournament opener in front of a jampacked crowd in Al Bayt Stadium on November 20. We look at the key stats for Group A teams.
Qatar eye a historic feat
Formed in 1960, Qatar's national team played their first official game in 1970 against Bahrain, in which they lost 2-1. Qatar have become the first country to make their World Cup debut by virtue of being hosts. They were exempted from the qualifiers. Versus Ecuador, Qatar can become the first country to win their WC debut game since Senegal in 2002 (versus France, 1-0).
First-ever WC in the Arab world
Notably, the 2022 edition would be the first ever World Cup to be held in the Arab world, and only the second WC held entirely in Asia, after the 2002 edition in South Korea and Japan.
Can Netherlands win maiden World Cup crown?
Netherlands have finished as runners-up thrice in World Cup, besides claiming third place once and fourth place once. In 1934 and 1938, Netherlands exited in the round of 16. Netherlands finished runners-up 1974, 1078, and 2010. Netherlands finished 3rd in 2014. In 1994, they reached the quarters. In 1998, they finished 4th, besides a R16 berth in 1990.
Qatar have already scripted history before participation
Qatar have missed out on the WC qualifications two times in the past (1990, 1998). Their best run for qualifying came in 1990. They concluded third in the final round of qualifiers behind the UAE and South Korea.
Ecuador would be raring to set the stage ablaze
Ecuador debuted in the competition in 2002 and went on to partake in three of the next four editions. Their best WC finish was during the 2006 edition, with the Tricolors reaching R16. Notably, they have managed to win at least a match during the group stage in each of the editions they have qualified for (2002, 2006, 2014).
Senegal can breeze their way to the top
Senegal reached the quarters in 2002, only to fall short against Turkey (0-1). It remains their best run in the coveted tournament to date. They failed to qualify for the next three editions before breaking the shackles in 2018, with a group-stage finish. They will have high hopes this time around, having won the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year.
Interesting numbers held by Ecuador
Ecuador own the distinction of forcing the biggest upset by a South American team (per FIFA rankings) in a World Cup. Ranked 36, Ecuador trumped 21st-ranked Croatia 1-0 in the 2002 edition. Former center-back Ivan Hurtado holds the record for most matches played in qualifying (68). Each of those appearances came between 1994 and 2010.
Unique records held by Netherlands in WC
Netherlands have the most finishes in the top two without being a champion (3 - 1974, 1978, 2010). They also own the most finishes by a side in the top three (1974, 1978, 2010, 2014) and top four (1974, 1978, 1998, 2010, 2014) without grabbing a title. Meanwhile, former midfielder Johan Neeskens has the fastest goal in a final (90 seconds versus West Germany, 1974).
A hard pill to swallow for Senegal
Back in 2018, fair play was used to determine second place in Group H standings. Japan qualified over Senegal due to fewer yellow cards in the group stage. It remains the only such case of "fair play" to date.