SA-born Torrao helps minnows Macau to a good start in 2022 WC qualifiers

07 June 2019 - 11:46 By Mark Gleeson
Johannesburg-born striker Nicolas Torrao.
Johannesburg-born striker Nicolas Torrao.
Image: YOUTUBE

The long and winding road to the next Fifa World Cup in Qatar in 2022 kicked off in Asia on Thursday and a South African-born striker was among the winners on the opening day of qualification.

The long and winding road to the next Fifa World Cup in Qatar in 2022 kicked off in Asia on Thursday and a South African-born striker was among the winners on the opening day of qualification.

Johannesburg-born Nicolas Torrao captained Macau as they won 1-0 in the home leg of their first round tie against Sri Lanka.

The 31-year-old from Johannesburg’s Portuguese community but moved to Macau with his family and has gone on to represent them in three World Cup qualifying campaigns.

He had several chances during Thursday’s game but his Benfica teammate Filipe Duarte’s 53rd minute goal ensured a narrow lead for the city state to take to Sri Lanka for the return match on Tuesday.

“It's my third qualifying campaign with Macau and it's still a great honor for me to wear this shirt‚” Torrao told the Spanish sports paper Marca on Thursday.

“Although we know that we have to play in this first qualifying round because we are one of the weaker Asian side‚ for us this is our great opportunity although we are under no illusions.” “We are breathing in the World Cup atmosphere and we want to make the people of Macau feel proud‚ we think we can advance to the next round.”

Despite the slender lead‚ Macau will have high hopes of progress as Sri Lanka are Asia’s lowest-ranked team at 202.

Macau were forced to play Thursday’s home game across the border in Zhuhai‚ China because Macau’s Taipa Stadium is being renovated.

The 90 minutes on Thursday were among the first in what will be 78‚480 minutes (excluding any potential extra time in any of the playoff matches) of football to be played in the next 32 months to determine the 31 team to qualify for Qatar.

It opened with 12 of Asia’s lowest-ranked teams facing each other home and away where six winners will progress to the second round in September to join the likes of Japan‚ Australia‚ South Korea and Iran.

The second round of qualification starts in September with 40 teams divided into eight groups of five.

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