DOHA: Qatar manager Felix Sanchez says it will be a “historic moment” for the hosts to play their first match at a World Cup on Sunday.

Spaniard Sanchez, 46, will be in charge when Qatar open the tournament in their group game against Ecuador.

Qatar, ranked 50th in the world, are in Group A with Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands.

“It’s a very important day for us. A historic moment, a moment of happiness for us,” Sanchez said.

“It’s an extraordinary day like no other. We have made such a huge effort in this country. We are all devoted for this World Cup and have invested so much.

“I hope it’s a great party where we can enjoy football and I hope everyone from all countries in the world, together, can enjoy this experience. I’m happy to be the ones kicking off this competition.”

Sanchez said playing at home in front of fans will make the occasion “even more special” and his team hope to be competitive against higher-ranked sides in their group.

“We are very motivated to take part. We have been waiting so long for this moment to arrive,” he added.

“We are very much aware of who we are, where we are coming from and who we are facing. We know it will be a great challenge but in many ways we are eager to play and are very happy to be here.”

Captain Hassan Al-Haydos, who plays as a forward for Doha-based Al Sadd, said Qatar are “very proud” and “full of enthusiasm” to kick off the tournament.

“There is no greater honour than to play in the World Cup,” the 31-year-old said. “It is a huge task but we are ready. It goes without saying I am very proud to lead the squad.

“It is the edition of the World Cup of all Arabs, we bear the responsibility of all Arabs to play well with our performance and the team spirit. We have to represent all Arabs well.

“Inshallah [God willing], me and my team will perform up to the expectations and show the results of our hard work.”