THE 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup will begin in Qatar on Nov 20 with the host nation taking on Ecuador at the Al Bayt Stadium, the farthest venue from central Doha.

Defending champions France kick off their campaign against Australia two days later, while bookmakers’ favourites Brazil will begin their quest for a record-extending sixth title against Serbia on Nov 24.

The following are the eight groups in the tournament.

GROUP A: Qatar (hosts), Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands.

GROUP B: England, Iran, United States, Wales.

GROUP C: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland.

GROUP D: France, Australia, Denmark, Tunisia.

GROUP E: Spain, Costa Rica, Germany, Japan.

GROUP F: Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia.

GROUP G: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon.

GROUP H: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea.

The group stage will be a round-robin format with each of the 32 teams playing three matches.

Teams will get three points for a win and one for a draw. The top two teams in each group will advance to the last 16.

The first knockout round kicks off on Dec 3 and will be followed by the quarterfinals from Dec 9 and the semifinals from Dec 13.

The knockout rounds will feature one-off matches, which can go to extra time and then penalties to decide the winner.

The third-place playoff between the two losing semifinalists take places on Dec 17 at the Khalifa International Stadium.

WHEN IS THE WORLD CUP FINAL?

The World Cup final will be held on Sunday, Dec 18 which is Qatar National Day. The match will kick off at 1500 GMT (11pm Malaysian time).

WHICH STADIUM IS HOSTING THE FINAL?

The 80,000 capacity Lusail Iconic Stadium, which is 15km north of central Doha and the largest venue for the tournament, will host the World Cup title clash.

WHO ARE THE FAVOURITES?

Bookmakers have listed five-times champions Brazil as the favourites.

Reuters

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