Qatar will kick off the 2022 World Cup at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, organisers announced on Wednesday, as they revealed the schedule for the finals.
In a joint statement, FIFA and Qatar’s Supreme Committee organisational body said that the gas-rich Gulf nation will start the World Cup at the 60,000-capacity ground on November 21.
The kick-off timings for the group matches of the World Cup, announced by FIFA on Wednesday, is likely to come across as good news for fans in India, with most of the games falling in the prime time window across the sub-continent.
The World Cup will witness as many as four matches during a day. during the group stages.
The final will be held at the 80,000-seat Lusail Stadium in Doha nearly a month later on December 18.
The opening match will begin a group stage that will feature four matches a day for 12 days, spread over eight stadiums around Qatar.
Group matches will kick off at three-hour intervals, beginning at 1.00pm local time (1000 GMT), with the late match kicking off at 10:00pm local time.
The first game will kick-off at 15:30 IST and the last game will kick off at 00:30 IST (the next day in India). However, the second and third matches will both be consumed by a prime time evening broadcast audience in India, given that they start at 18:30 IST and 21:30 IST respectively.
The simultaneous kick-offs for the last round of group games will be 20:30 IST and 00:30 IST (next day).
The knockout stage matches are also likely to kick-off at a similar time slot as the last round of group games.
Khalifa International Stadium will be the venue for the play-off for third place on 17 December 2022. The final will kick off on 18 December at 20:30 IST at Lusail Stadium.
The group stage will last just 12 days and, with four matches per day, and will help in giving teams enough rest before the knockout stages.
Qualification for the World Cup has begun in Asia and Africa but is yet to start in Europe, the Americas and Oceania. Organisers said on Wednesday that the draw for the finals would be made “after the March 2022 international match calendar qualifying window”.
Both the Al Bayt and Lusail stadiums are still under construction, although the Al Bayt ground — which takes its shape from the traditional tents used by nomadic peoples in the Gulf region — is nearing completion, according to World Cup organisers.
This will be the second World Cup to be held in Asia and the first one to be held in the Middle-East. Japan and South Korea had hosted the first World Cup in Asia back in 2002.