By Tunde Eludini-Time Premuim
Barely 27 months to the 2022 edition of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the world football governing body has confirmed the schedule for the sporting spectacle.
According to the detailed schedule released Wednesday, the World Cup will officially kick off on November 21, 2022, at the 60,000-seat capacity Al Bayt Stadium, with its distinctive “tent” style covering.
The tournament will run through December 18, 2022, when the final will be played at the 80,000 Lusail Stadium, which, like Al Bayt, will also, host a semifinal.
According to a report on ESPN, the World Cup will enjoy a flexible time table that would afford fans an unprecedented chance to watch as much as four games a day on television, spread out over 11 hours, during the group stage of the Qatar 2022 tournament.
With the relatively short travel distances and connectivity between the venues in and around Doha, it could be possible for fans who travel to the 32-team tournament to attend multiple games each day.
The early games will kick off at 1 p.m. local time, with the fourth match starting at 10 p.m. local time and finishing just before midnight.
Nasser Al Khater, CEO of the Qatar World Cup organising company, said plans for the tournament were well on schedule with 85 per cent of the work finished on roads and infrastructure.
“When we talk about the stadiums, more than 85 per cent of the work has been completed and really now, the last two years, we’re focusing on our operational readiness and making sure we get the fan experience plans in place,” he said
“The World Cup is always a festival of football, a real celebration for the fans who come on-site and watch,” FIFA chief tournaments and events officer, Colin Smith, said. “In Qatar, with the compact nature, this is going to be amplified even more with 32 teams and 32 sets of supporters all in and around Doha.”
“FIFA will wait until the draw for the tournament is held in March or April of 2022 before assigning specific games to venues and time-slots. That will enable them to better align games with time zones for domestic television partners of the competing teams. The tournament was switched from it’s usual June-July slot due to the heat in the Gulf state and is the first that will be held in the middle of the European season.”
The tournament draw for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is to be pushed back by two months after FIFA rescheduled qualifying playoffs due to the coronavirus pandemic.
FIFA said in June its council agreed to delay an intercontinental four-team playoff- from March 2022 to June that year- because of fixture congestion.
The 32-team tournament draw was planned for April 2022, likely in Doha. The earliest option is now to hold it in June ahead of the November 21-December 18 tournament.
If Nigeria makes it to Qatar, it would be the country’s seventh World Cup appearance having previously featured in 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010, 2014 and 2018 editions of the Mundial.
The Super Eagles have never made it beyond the second round at the World Cup.