Friday 9 December 2022
 
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MONTH-LONG EXTRAVAGANZA

FIFA World Cup Qatar begins today

DOHA, 18 days ago

History will be made in Qatar today as football fans celebrate the start of the first FIFA World Cup in the Arab world. 
 
A spectacular Opening Ceremony kicked off at the Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor in Qatar amid a loud cheer from the fans. It all began after a 30-second countdown with cultural show at the Al Bayt Stadium. Some superb light work and music were also in display at the venue.
 
BTS singer Jung Kook stole the show at the opening ceremony with his new track 'Dreamers' while Hollywood star Morgan Freeman was equally good with his message of hope, unity and tolerance. 
 
The duo gave the fans at the venue a great time with their stellar performances. Earlier, France legend Marcel Desailly presented the World Cup trophy in front of the fans.
 
Immediately after the ceremony, the Qatar National Team make their tournament debut, facing Ecuador in the opening match at 7pm Doha time.
 
Qatar has never before appeared in a World Cup and faces a major challenge just to emerge from Group A, which also includes Senegal and the Netherlands. South Africa in 2010 is the only host nation to fail to get beyond the group stage, so to avoid sharing that distinction would be success in itself.
 
Sunday may be Qatar’s best hope for a victory against an Ecuador team that is only five places above it at No. 44 in the FIFA rankings.
 
The Word Cup matches will be held in eight spectacular stadiums.  The opening ceremony at the first match will be at Al Bayt Stadium. 
 
Qatar, the smallest nation to host the football world cup, has spent billions of dollars in building new infrastructure like stadiums, roads, metro, hotels, etc. for the event.
 
The matches can also be watched live on mega-screens at the FIFA Fan Festival in Doha. Entry is exclusively for Hayya Card holders and on a first come, first served basis.
 
A total of 32 teams will be taking part in the World Cup. Four teams from the region have qualified with hosts Qatar joined by Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Morocco for the showpiece event. The final of the event will be held on December 18.
 
Defending champions France will play their first match against Australia at 10pm (local time) on November 23 while five-time champions Brazil will start against Serbia at 10pm on November 25. 
 
The semi-finals will be played on December 14 and 15, both at 10pm, while the final will take place at the Lusail Iconic Stadium on December 18.
 
The teams have been placed in eight different groups. These are
 
Group A: Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands
 
Group B: England, Iran, United States, Wales/Scotland/Ukraine
 
Group C: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland
 
Group D: France, Australia/UAE/Peru, Denmark, Tunisia
 
Group E: Spain, Costa Rica/New Zealand, Germany, Japan
 
Group F: Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia
 
Group G: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon
 
Group H: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea
 
“Many teams have a shot at this World Cup – with Brazil the leading favourites,” said Ahmad Khalil Khalil, who helped Qatar claim their first Arabian Gulf Cup in 1992.
 
“Argentina, Brazil, Germany and France are also strong teams. There are also some dark horses, like Serbia, who have a very talented squad, but I am certain a team from the region will surprise everyone.”



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