Qatar World Cup Performance: Betting Review

Qatar was the worst host nation in terms of football performance. But until the first game of the tournament, the betting markets still gave them some credit for the host advantage.

It certainly wasn’t a game changer, like it was for France in 1998, for example, but the World Cup history suggests that hosts tend to overperform compared with their ‘natural skills’.

It happened with South Korea reaching the semi-finals in 2002, France won their first World Cup in 1998 when they weren’t quite the favourite team in the eyes of many, and South Africa performed quite well even if they failed to get out of Group A in 2010.

Qatar 0 – 2 Ecuador: The change of the odds

There was some genuine expectation around Qatar, as many had claimed that they had made a big effort to improve local football. Unlike in the past, there weren’t many naturalized players, the team was genuinely Qatari.

The big ‘discussion’ in the markets around this game was this: Will the home factor prevail on behalf of Qatar or will the sports side be Ecuador’s strong point here?

The victory of Ecuador paid odds of 2.20 on average, which means the markets saw an advantage in terms of the capabilities of the visitors.

However, that advantage in terms of odds would have been much bigger if the game was to be played on a neutral field. After Ecuador’s victory, Qatar’s odds ‘grew’ a bit and they ended up losing all games.

But the first game was an important point marking the change of the market expectation of a potential host nation that could surprise the world. The big surprises of the group ended up being a rather slow start of The Netherlands, and Ecuador playing much better than most analysts had expected.

Second and Third game

Qatar lost 1-3 and 0-2 against Senegal and The Netherlands, respectively. 

But the expectations in the markets changed a lot since the first game, as we can see in the betting summary below.

Betting Summary 

The odds for the victory of Qatar Ecuador were 3.70 on average, while against Senegal and the Netherlands it was significantly more, 5.50 and 14+ on average, which shows how the faith of the markets on them decreased as the host nation ‘effect’ proved not to be the case for the Qatari.

Some may consider that they underperformed if the host nation effect is taken into account, but it’s fair to say this was the World Cup that was ‘awarded’ to a nation for the most economic and political reasons ever compared with the past. Even South Africa has a bigger football history than Qatar.

They only lost by 2 goals against The Netherlands which, if predicted before the tournament could be somewhat surprising. 

Moreover, they should be praised for using real Qatari players, unlike in the past when some nations used lots of naturalized Brazilians and players from other countries, an issue that was a target of former FIFA president Sepp Blatter. They didn’t do very well, but it was a brave Qatari attempt to do so.

The question now is whether there’s some kind of legacy for the upcoming Asian football regional competitions as well as the 2026 cycle of the World Cup. Time will tell!


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