Qatar vs Senegal live updates: Team news, line-ups, analysis and start time

The opening night was bruising for Qatar. After more than a decade of build up, the team fluffed their lines.

The criticism was sharp and the performance, especially the first half, deserved it. But they are capable of better; they won the Asian Cup in 2019 and were Gold Cup semi-finalists as recently as 2021. It was only really in the second half that we saw glimpses of that quality, when they managed a concerted period of possession.

Against Senegal, we should see whether it was just immense pressure that afflicted Qatar against Ecuador. Without the stage fright of opening night, we may see more of the expansive football Felix Sanchez has tried to instill over the past few years. They will need, though, to get their leading lights, namely Afif and Ali, into better attacking positions.

For Senegal, a lack of cutting edge told against the Netherlands and the absence of record goalscorer Mane hangs over the team. A moment of indecision costs them the game and that adds pressure here; they have to win. But Cisse’s African champions are strong across the board and their high pressing approach could force mistakes, particularly if Qatar haven’t shaken off those early tournament nerves.

With Sarr a thorn in the Dutch side on matchday one, he will fancy his chances with more space against Qatar. Senegal should triumph comfortably here, even if Qatar are more competitive than they were against Ecuador. But as Saudi Arabia showed on Tuesday, surprises can happen at a World Cup.

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