In a matter of weeks, the world will witness greatness on the football pitch. And no, we’re not talking about league football.
Everybody is gearing up for the 22nd edition of the greatest sporting festival: the FIFA World Cup. Qatar will be hosting this edition from November 20 to December 18, 2022.
As hosts, they will be opening the tournament and their opponents for the World Cup opening game is Ecuador. Overlyzer brings you information on the most interesting players on both teams in this article.
Enner Valencia: Ecuador
Enner Valencia is arguably the most popular name on the Ecuador national team. Although not the most popular Valencia to have played for the team – that honour belongs to Antonio Valencia, who is now retired – he is the one whose name is written in gold in the Ecuador hall of fame.
He is the captain of the current squad, their highest profile player, and the top scorer of their nation. It is safe to say that Ecuador cannot do without the man who has plied his trade at Everton and West Ham United in the Premier League, and now plies his trade at Fenerbahçe in Turkey.
Bettors can bet on him adding to his 35 goals for Ecuador in the tournament and the World Cup opening game presents the best opportunity for him to do just that.
Saad Al Sheeb: Qatar
Qatar’s first choice goalkeeper, Saad Al Sheeb, is a name that is renowned in the AFC. Playing his trade with Al Sadd, one of Qatar’s most successful clubs, the 32-year-old has been a mainstay of The Maroon squad since making his international debut in 2009.
The FIFA World Cup will be his fifth major tournament for the team. He will be looking to make an impact just like he did in the 2019 Asian Cup and the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup where they played as invitees for the first time.
He is also one of the most decorated players in the team and his experience will count for a lot as Qatar look to open their tournament while securing their first ever World Cup win with a bang.
Pervis Estupiñan: Ecuador
Pervis Estupiñan cut his teeth in Ecuador before moving to England to play for Watford. However, the Hornets did not know what to do with him and sent him on several loan spells to various Spanish teams.
In 2020, he signed permanently for Villarreal. There, he found some stability and was given the opportunity to put all the experience he had gathered on his various loan spells. That experience helped him to play a key role in the Yellow Submariner’s miraculous run up to the UEFA Champions League semifinal.
Now back in England with Brighton and Hove Albion and proving his former club, Watford, wrong for not giving him a chance in English football in his first stint, he is expected to star for Ecuador in the World Cup.
Abdelkarim Hassan: Qatar
Abdelkarim Hassan is not just another Al Sadd player in the Qatar national team squad; he is the third most capped player for the Qatar national team with 124 caps. The amazing part of this achievement is that he has racked up this number of caps at just 29 years old.
Since making his debut for The Maroons in 2010, Hassan has gone on to tie down the left back spot. No matter how many regime changes the squad underwent in that period, he remained one of the players who was always called up.
He is so important to the side that following the emergence of talented left-back Hammam Al Amin, the national team handlers have transitioned him into a left center-back. He is expected to occupy at the World Cup and to lead the team from the back.
Moisés Caicedo: Ecuador
Moisés Caicedo and Pervis Estupiñan will likely be travelling to Qatar together, alongside Jeremy Sarmiento, as all three players are Ecuador internationals. Caicedo, especially, is one to look out for, having had a blistering start to his Premier League career at the Amex Stadium.
The 20-year-old central midfielder joined the Seagulls in 2021 but spent that season on loan at Beerschot, a second division club in Belgium. His performances were enough for the team to trust him in the 2022/23 season and he has not disappointed. He is currently rated as one of the most exciting young midfielders in the Premier League.
Caicedo is only 25 caps into his Ecuador career but with a rising stock in club football, La Tri will be insane to leave him out of their final squad when they travel to Qatar in November.
Hassan Al-Haydos: Qatar
And just as we started this list with Ecuador’s most popular player, we are ending it with Qatar’s most popular player. Hassan Al-Haydos is a national treasure for all of Qatar. He is a 14-year veteran of the squad and their most capped player with 165 caps.
The fact that he is only 31 years old and has earned this many caps is also something to talk about and one of the reasons why watching him at the World Cup opening game should be top of your list. Al-Haydos is the team’s playmaker, who operates in midfield and on the right wing.
He is also the team’s captain and will be shouldering all the hopes of his nation in their first ever World Cup finals appearance.