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Update : 2018-06-14 01:43:42
FIFA World Cup 2018 kicks off Thursday
Sun Online Desk

FIFA World Cup 2018 kicks off Thursday

The long-awaited 32-nation FIFA World Cup 2018 begins on Thursday with hosts Russia taking on Saudi Arabia in the opening match at the 80,000 capacity Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow amid huge enthusiasm among millions of soccer fans across the world.   The match will kick off at 9pm Bangladesh time.   World best 32 football playing nations, split into eight groups, will participate in the biggest show on earth missed by four-time champions Italy, 2010 finalist Netherlands, two-time Copa champions Chile and the USA while Saudi Arabia returned to the World Cup after 2002.     The 30-minute glittering opening ceremony will begin at 8:30 pm (BST) with 500 local performers, including dancers, gymnasts and trampolinists, rendering the show.   Brazil's two-time World Cup winner Ronaldo will show off the trophy to 80,000 fans inside the stadium.   World Cup organisers earlier announced that British singer Robbie Williams will perform at the World Cup opening ceremony on Thursday. In the 1990s, Williams was a part of the pop group “Take That.”   Robbie Williams will open the World Cup programme with Russia soprano Aida Garifullina joining the English singer for what FIFA has described as a "musical extravaganza".   A fireworks display is set to bring the ceremony to a close before the World Cup competition returns four years on from Mario Gotze's decisive contribution in Brazil.   Bangladesh U-12 boy Rafi is going to create a history in the opening ceremony of 21st FIFA World Cup as Ambassador of Bangladesh. He will carry the national flag of Bangladesh accompanied by Bangladeshi young journalist Shams alongside the budding footballers of some 211 countries across the world in the ceremony.   Bangladeshi budding footballer Rafi, now in Russia Under FIFA Football For Friendship programme, also played for Galapagos Sea Lions team alongside the players of six countries -- China, Cyprus, Liberia, Anguilla, Ivory Coast and Turks & Caicos Island at Spartak Stadium in Moscow and scored six goals in the three matches on Tuesday ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2018.   Meanwhile, World Cup fever grabbed capital Dhaka and all over the country as the flags of two favoruite teams -– Brazil and Argentina – have already hoisted atop roofs, shops, road islands and important points of the city and other areas.   Grouping and Fixture of FIFA World Cup Russia’2018   Grouping: Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay   Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran   Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark   Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria   Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia   Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea   Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England   Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan     Schedule: GROUP STAGE               Date:                                       Match                                     Venue             Kick-off Thursday         June 14     Russia v Saudi Arabia (A) Moscow (Luzhniki)     4pm GMT Friday              June 15     Egypt v Uruguay (A)         Ekaterinburg               1pm Friday              June 15     Morocco v Iran (B)            St Petersburg               4pm Friday              June 15     Portugal v Spain (B)          Sochi                           7pm Saturday          June 16     France v Australia (C)       Kazan                          11am Saturday          June 16     Argentina v Iceland (D)     Moscow (Spartak)     2pm Saturday          June 16     Peru v Denmark (C)           Saransk                        5pm Saturday          June 16     Croatia v Nigeria (D)         Kaliningrad                 8pm Sunday            June 17     Costa Rica v Serbia (E)     Samara                         1pm Sunday            June 17     Germany v Mexico (F)     Moscow (Luzhniki)     4pm Sunday            June 17     Brazil v Switzerland (E)     Rostov-on-Don          7pm Monday           June 18     Sweden v South Korea (F)     Nizhny Novgorod     1pm Monday           June 18     Belgium v Panama (G)     Sochi                           4pm Monday           June 18     Tunisia v England (G)       Volgograd                   7pm Tuesday           June 19     Poland v Senegal (H)         Moscow (Spartak)     1pm Tuesday           June 19     Colombia v Japan (H)        Saransk                        4pm Tuesday           June 19     Russia v Egypt (A)            St Petersburg               7pm Wednesday     June 20     Portugal v Morocco (B)     Moscow (Luzhniki)     1pm Wednesday     June 20     Uruguay v Saudi Arabia (A)     Rostov-on-Don     4pm Wednesday     June 20     Iran v Spain (B)                             Kazan              7pm Thursday         June 21     France v Peru (C)               Ekaterinburg               1pm Thursday         June 21     Denmark v Australia (C)   Samara                         4pm Thursday         June 21     Argentina v Croatia (D)     Nizhny Novgorod     7pm Friday              June 22     Brazil v Costa Rica (E)     St Petersburg               1pm Friday              June 22     Nigeria v Iceland (D)         Volgograd                   4pm Friday              June 22     Serbia v Switzerland (E)     Kaliningrad                7pm Saturday          June 23     Belgium v Tunisia (G)       Moscow (Spartak)       1pm Saturday          June 23     Germany v Sweden (F)                 Sochi               4pm Saturday          June 23     South Korea v Mexico (F)     Rostov-on-Don       7pm Sunday            June 24     England v Panama (G)     Nizhny Novgorod       1pm Sunday            June 24     Japan v Senegal (H)           Ekaterinburg               4pm Sunday            June 24     Poland v Colombia (H)     Kazan                          7pm Monday           June 25     Uruguay v Russia (A)        Samara                        3pm Monday           June 25     Saudi Arabia v Egypt (A)   Volgograd                             3pm Monday           June 25     Spain v Morocco (B)         Kaliningrad                 7pm Monday           June 25     Iran v Portugal (B)             Saransk                        7pm Tuesday           June 26     Denmark v France (C)     Moscow (Luzhniki)       3pm Tuesday           June 26     Australia v Peru (C)           Sochi                           3pm Tuesday           June 26     Nigeria v Argentina (D)     St Petersburg              7pm Tuesday           June 26     Iceland v Croatia (D)         Rostov-on-Don           7pm Wednesday     June 27     South Korea v Germany (F)     Kazan                   3pm Wednesday     June 27     Mexico v Sweden (F)        Ekaterinburg               3pm Wednesday     June 27     Serbia v Brazil (E)             Moscow (Spartak)       7pm Wednesday     June 27     Switzerland v Costa Rica (E)     Nizhny Novgorod    7pm Thursday         June 28     Japan v Poland (H)                        Volgograd     3pm Thursday         June 28     Senegal v Colombia (H)     Samara                        3pm Thursday         June 28     England v Belgium (G)     Kaliningrad                             7pm Thursday         June 28     Panama v Tunisia (G)        Saransk                        7pm                 LAST 16               Saturday          June 30    1C v 2D (Match 50)    Kazan                                 3pm Saturday          June 30    1A v 2B (Match 49)    Sochi                                  7pm Sunday            July 1     1B v 2A (Match 51)    Moscow                               3pm Sunday            July 1     1D v 2C (Match 52)    Nizhny Novgorod                7pm Monday           July 2     1E v 2F (Match 53)    Samara                                  3pm Monday           July 2     1G v 2H (Match 54)    Rostov-on-Don                    7pm Tuesday           July 3     1F v 2E (Match 55)    St Petersburg                         3pm Tuesday           July 3     1H v 2G (Match 56)    Moscow (Spartak)               7pm                  QUARTER-FINALS               Friday              July 6               Winner 49 v winner 50 (57)     Nizhny Novgorod     3pm Friday              July 6               Winner 53 v winner 54 (58)     Kazan                         7pm Saturday          July 7               Winner 55 v winner 56 (60)     Samara                       3pm Saturday          July 7               Winner 51 v winner 52 (59)     Sochi                          7pm                 SEMI-FINALS               Tuesday           July 10             Winner 57 v winner 58     St Petersburg                     7pm Wednesday     July 11             Winner 59 v winner 60     Moscow (Luzhniki)           7pm                 THIRD-PLACE PLAY-OFF               Saturday          July 14    Losers of two semi-finals     St Petersburg                          3pm                 FINAL               Sunday            July 15    Winners of two-semi-finals     Moscow (Luzhniki)              4pm