Switzerland v Cameroon (11 CET)
Switzerland coach Murat Yakin believes his team is all set to create history as they prepare for their 2022 World Cup opener against Cameroon in Group G on Thursday.
The Swiss have not reached the quarter-finals since hosting the tournament in 1954, but after going undefeated through qualifying, Yakin has urged his side to consider an unprecedented opportunity.
Yakin said, “I think we are the best Switzerland national team has ever produced – we have fantastic players who play abroad and I am confident that we will put in our best World Cup performance.”
“I think we have a great squad with a great team spirit that has been built over the last few years. Football-wise we have improved a lot, and now we want to make history.”
Qatar is Switzerland’s fifth consecutive appearance at the World Cup, a record for the team.
Uruguay v South Korea (14 CET)
Uruguay head coach Diego Alonso insisted his players would not target South Korea’s star attacker Son Hyung-min’s physical condition when the two countries meet in their Group H World Cup opener on Thursday.
The fitness of Son, who is currently wearing a black eye mask following surgery on a fractured eye socket, is being assessed on a ‘day-by-day’ basis by head coach Paulo Bento.
“We have the utmost respect for Son but he has other footballers as well,” Alonso said.
Uruguay captain Diego Godin joined Alonso at the press conference as a sign that he could still play despite a knee injury sustained last year.
Portugal v Ghana (17 CET)
The Cristiano Ronaldo saga dominated the build-up to Portugal’s opening group match, but it proved to be no distraction for head coach Fernando Santos.
The Portugal boss said on Wednesday that the issue had never figured in talks with the team since landing in Qatar.
Ronaldo himself cut a relaxed figure on the eve of Portugal’s opening match at the 2022 World Cup.
Ronaldo was all smiles less than 24 hours after agreeing to terminate his contract with Manchester United following a controversial interview in which he criticized the club and owners.
Portugal will open their campaign against Ghana before further fixtures against Uruguay and South Korea.
Brazil v Serbia (20 CET)
Serbia is aiming to advance beyond the group stage for the first time in its fourth World Cup as an independent nation.
His first step: Brazil.
Head coach Dragan Stojkovic joked about reports that their first opponents at the World Cup, Brazil, would start with four forwards, Neymar, Rafinha, Vinicius Júnior and Richardson.
Several current Serbia players were in the team that beat Brazil to lift the Under-20 World Cup trophy in 2015; as well as the victory over France in the final of the Under-19 European Championship final two years earlier.
With the talent he has, he declared that “Brazil has a chance to win but Serbia has a chance to win too. Therefore, we are not afraid of anyone in the world!”