Hosts Qatar should not be called a “failure and disappointment” after being eliminated in the group stage of the World Cup, says manager Felix Sanchez.
The Middle Eastern side battled valiantly before Senegal condemned them to a second straight defeat – and subsequently became the first country knocked out of the competition after the Netherlands drew 1-1 against Ecuador.
But African champions Senegal are up and running in Group A.
Boulaye Dia broke the deadlock four minutes before half-time, slamming home to punish Boualem Khoukhi’s miscued clearance.
Looking to hit back in the second period, Qatar’s hopes were dashed when former Bristol City striker Famara Diedhiou rose to flick in a glorious header just three minutes after the break.
Watford’s Ismaila Sarr had an early chance on his 50th cap but struck into the side-netting, while Idrissa Gueye of Everton’s rasping drive went narrowly wide.
Qatar felt they should have had a first-half penalty when Akram Afif was bundled over in the box by Sarr, but referee Antonio Lahoz pointed only for a goal-kick, much to the anger of the home supporters.
Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy made stunning reflex saves to deny Almoez Ali and Ismail Mohamad, but he could do nothing about Mohammed Muntari’s powerful header.
Qatar were searching for the equaliser, but Bamba Dieng stroked in to deflate the home following and leave their team bottom of the group without a point after two games played.
“Our goal was to be competitive,” said Qatar boss Sanchez. “We have been working for so many months to be able to give a good performance.
“But sometimes the match does not play out as you expect. It also depends on the opponents’ performance. We didn’t play at our top level.
“We are aware of how tough this competition is. We wanted to go far but we know we had limitations as a country.”
Qatar made history by becoming the first country from this region to host the World Cup and now have the unwanted record of becoming just the second home team to exit the competition at the group stage, after South Africa in 2010.
They needed a huge favour from Ecuador, who beat them in the opening game, to salvage any hope of remaining in the tournament but Gustavo Alfaro’s side claimed a draw.
It means Qatar’s first appearance at a World Cup ended in dismay with two defeats within the space of six days and have just pride to play for against the Netherlands on Tuesday.
The Qatar players were applauded by their fans at the final whistle, but some hit the deck in regret knowing their prospects of reaching the knockout stage are now over. (BBC)