World Cup 2022 set to start a day early with Qatar vs. Ecuador
The official ball for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in Doha, Qatar, March 31, 2022. /CFP

The official ball for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in Doha, Qatar, March 31, 2022. /CFP

The World Cup's start will be brought forward by a day to allow hosts Qatar to play the opening game, multiple media reported on Wednesday.

Having previously been scheduled for November 21, the opening match between Qatar and Ecuador will now take place on November 20.

The change will see the tournament, which was switched to November-December to avoid the Gulf country's searing summer heat, keep to its tradition of the hosts playing the opening match.

Senegal and the Netherlands had been scheduled to play the first game on November 21, followed by England against Iran and then the official inauguration match, Qatar's World Cup debut, that evening.

"There were discussions and agreement between the two respective teams and there was a request from the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL)," one World Cup source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity as no official decision has been announced.

"We wanted to follow the tradition that either the reigning champions or the host country be involved in the opening match," the source added.

The opening match is scheduled to be held at the 60,000-capacity Al Bayt stadium, one of seven new venues purpose-built for the tournament since Qatar was awarded the World Cup in 2010.

The group phase will be played from November 21 to December 2. The knockout phase will begin with the round of 16 from December 3 to 6.

The quarterfinals will be played on December 9 and 10, with the semifinals on December 13 and 14. The play-off for the third place will unfold on December 17, one day before the final on December 18.

World Cup Qatar 2022 groups

Group A: Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands

Group B: England, Iran, U.S. and Wales

Group C: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland

Group D: France, Australia, Denmark and Tunisia

Group E: Spain, Costa Rica, Germany and Japan

Group F: Belgium, Canada, Morocco and Croatia

Group G: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon

Group H: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay and Republic of Korea

(With input from agencies)

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