Over the weekend, sports lovers across the globe were in for a treat as the 2022 FIFA World Cup kicked off in Qatar with Enner Valencia’s experience proving vital in Ecuador’s victory over hosts Qatar. The Springboks demolishing Italy in Sampordia was much needed considering that they were coming from two consecutive losses. Heinrich Klaasen’s double ton lit up things in Centurian as he celebrated being called up for the Protea’s Test tour of Australia. Let’s take a look at the winners and losers from this past weekend.
Enner Valencia’s brace gave Ecuador a perfect start at the 2022 FIFA World Cup beating the hosts, Qatar 2-0 in the opening match on Sunday. Valencia thought he had given the South Americans an early lead inside 3 minutes with a fine header but the goal was disallowed after VAR pointed to an offside. Valencia, who is the all-time leading goalscorer for his country with 37 goals was brought down inside the box and nonchalantly converted from the penalty spot to give his side the lead.
The 33-year-old former West Ham star added the second with a pinpoint header to complete the brace. He has now scored a record five goals in the World Cup finals after managing to score three in the 2014 edition in Brazil.
Gary Lineker made a hard-hitting speech about the issues surrounding the Qatar World Cup ahead of the tournament’s opening game on Sunday afternoon. The former Barcelona striker also mentioned FIFA’s instructions to ‘stick to football’ in the build-up to the game.
“Ever since FIFA chose Qatar to host the World Cup in 2010, the smallest nation to have hosted football’s greatest competition has faced some big questions,” Lineker said on BBC.
“From accusations of corruption in the bidding process to the treatment of migrant workers who built the stadiums, where many lost their lives.
“Homosexuality is illegal here. Women’s rights and freedom of expression are in the spotlight. Also, the decision six years ago to switch the World Cup from summer to winter.
“Against that backdrop, there is a tournament to be played, one that will be watched and enjoyed worldwide.
“Stick to football, say FIFA, well we will, for a couple of minutes, at least.”
South Africa turned on the second-half heat as they ran in a total of nine tries in a dominant 63-21 win over Italy in their Test at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. The Springboks scored seven tries after the break as they wore down their hosts with relentless forward play to post their first win on their end-of-year tour, after losing narrowly to Ireland and France over the last weeks. Kurt-Lee Arendse was a two-try hero as Bongi Mbonambi, Cheslin Kolbe, Kwagga Smith, Malcolm Marx, Damian Willemse, Cobus Reinach, and Steven Kitshoff all added tries in their names.
Heinrich Klaasen produced a sizzling career-best knock of 292 off just 240 deliveries for the Titans against a hapless Knights attack in Centurion on Saturday. Klaasen was celebrating being recalled to the Proteas squad for the tour to Australia. Klaasen was recalled to the Test squad in place of Ryan Rickelton (who had an ankle injury that made him ineligible for national selection). Klaasen has only played one Test for South Africa, on their 2019 tour to India, where he scored 11 runs, but has been part of their white-ball teams since.
In the history of the World Cup, no host nation has managed to lose in the opening match but Qatar broke that record by losing 2-0 to Ecuador on Sunday. The middle east nation was playing in the World Cup finals for the first time in their history. The hosts now face an uphill battle to win their next two matches against Holland and Senegal to put themselves into pole position to qualify for the knockout phases.
Wales suffered one of the most embarrassing losses going down 13-12 to Georgia on Saturday. Wayne Pivac’s side continued their bad patch this year as they have only won three of the last eleven matches. This piles the pressure on Pivac regarding his future with the World Cup less than 10 months away. Georgia joined Italy as one of the sides to claim famous victories in Cardiff. Before Romania, Canada and Samoa managed to humiliate Wales at home.
This weekend Wales will battle Australia in a match they would be desperate to win to get back to winning ways.