Bengaluru, July 15: Exactly two years after France won the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the match schedule for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup was announced with the hosts set to kick off the tournament at the newly-constructed Al Bayt Stadium on November 21.
Al Bayt Stadium, a 60,000-capacity arena that takes its name and shape from the traditional tents used by nomadic peoples in the Gulf region, will be the stage for hosts to kick off the proceedings at 1pm local time (3.30pm IST).
For the first time in World Cup history, four group matches will be held in a day with the draw of the tournament likely to be held sometime in March or April, 2022.
The local kick-off times for group matches have been set for 13:00, 16:00, 19:00 and 22:00, with the simultaneous kick-offs for the last round of group games and knockout-stage timings being 18:00 and 22:00.
The recently-renovated Khalifa International Stadium will be the setting for the play-off for third place on December 17.
The final will be held a day later at 18:00 at Lusail Stadium in front of an 80,000 crowd on December 18, which is the Qatar National Day.
With the aim of providing all teams with optimal rest between their matches, the group stage will last 12 days and, with four matches per day.
The tournament's compact nature - with no air travel needed to move between the venues - will allow organisers, for the first time, to optimise specific match demands.
Qatar is building only eight stadiums for the one-month tournament and are promising to deliver the completed venues two years before the kick off.
Three stadiums are already complete while two more are expected to be ready by the end of the year.
Work on Qatar's eight World Cup stadiums and mega-projects linked to the tournament has continued despite the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with the organisers assuring that the venues will be strictly complying with the post-COVID-19 protocols.
Prior to the 2022 World Cup, hosts Qatar will host a pan-Arab football tournament in 2021 as test event for the quadrennial extravaganza.
The 22-team invitational tournament to be held from December 1 to 18, 2021, will be contested by Arab nations from Africa and Asia and feature home-based players only, with the matches scehduled to take place at the same stadiums which host the Qatar 2022 World Cup.