Sports Desk: 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 9:00pm 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.
risingbd/Dhaka/June 13, 2018/A K Azad